Infantry Weapons

Switzerland ready to buy Cobra 120 mm mortar systems

02 April 2019

The RUAG Defence Cobra 120 mm smoothbore mortar system integrated into the rear of a GDLS-MOWAG Piranha 3+ 8×8 platform. Source: RUAG Defence

Following extensive trials, the Swiss Army is expected to place a contract for a new 120 mm self-propelled (SP) mortar system in the next 6-12 months, according to Captain Lars Kristian Lehman of the Swiss Armed Forces.

Capt Lehman revealed the forthcoming contract in March at the Omega Conferences & Events' Mortar Systems Conference in Bristol, UK. A contract signing has been expected since the Swiss Army first began firing trials with the system in May 2016.

When fielded, the 120 mm SP mortar system will fill a gap in the army's indirect firepower capability, between its 81 mm mortar systems and its 155 mm/47-calibre upgraded M109L47 series self-propelled artillery systems.

The Swiss Army plans to order 32 RUAG Defence 120 mm Cobra turntable-mounted smoothbore mortar systems that are to be mounted in the rear of new General Dynamics European Land Systems (GDELS)-MOWAG 8×8 Piranha 3+ armoured vehicle (Piranha 4 in Swiss service).

RUAG Defence is to supply the 120 mm mortar systems to GDELS-MOWAG, who will integrate them into the newbuild Piranha 4 8×8s that have a slightly raised roofline to the rear to accommodate the mortar. That work will be undertaken at the main GDELS-MOWAG facility at Kreuzlingen, Switzerland, where the Piranha family of vehicles is manufactured.

The system is to have a crew of four (driver, commander, and two ammunition loaders), a maximum gross vehicle weight of up to 30 tonnes, and a maximum road speed of 90 km/h.

Standard equipment will consist of a remote weapon station armed with a .50 M2 HB machine gun and banks of electrically operated smoke grenade launchers.

In addition to the Cobra systems, the Swiss Army also plans to buy 16 Piranha II 8×8 armoured personnel carriers that will be rerolled into the command post role, 12 armoured ammunition resupply vehicles, and 36 flat rack ammunition containers.

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