A guest post from Jed

We have a lot of discussion of fire support for mobile (armoured, mechanised) infantry, and touched upon the same subject in the context of light infantry. A number of articles penned by TD, myself and others have generated comments that examined one aspect or another of various elements of direct and indirect fire support:

My constantly re-stated preference for turreted, breach loading, smooth bore 120mm mortars led one fellow commentator to suggest I may be a shill for a mortar company ! I am not, I assure you my dear readers, involved in the arms industry at all, just an ex-Matelot, ex-Squaddie, professional IT geek, who has an opinion on everything………

So, I thought I would write a little piece to provoke some more discussion (because you all require SOOO much provoking….) around the subject of Mortars, aka “lightweight tube, HE, for the dispensing of.


So, Mortars have been with us for a surprising long time, I am not going to do any of the history, you can all go and read Wikipedia for yourselves:

British Army 81mm Mortar
British Army 81mm Mortar A mortar team fires on insurgents outside Forward Operating Base Khar Nikar in Afghanistan. G (Tobruk) Company is a Ghurkha Reinforcement Company attached to 1st Battalion, The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) for two years. For the duration of the existence of the company, they are a Mercian Company in all respects

Modern British Army

The modern L16A1 81mm mortar (UK MoD equipment page), originally a product of Royal Ordnance (but now BAe) is one of those surprising little export successes. Incrementally improved, with advances including lighter weight tripods and baseplates, the wonders of modern IT applied to targeting, and lethal improvements to ammunition; such as notched steel wire wound around the inside of a thinner case for more shrapnel, and air-bursting proximity fuses, the good old 81mm remains a mainstay of infantry fire power at the battalion level, and nobody seems to have a bad thing at all to say about it !

You could perhaps be a little critical of our TOE and the way we have designed our structures for employing it. For example, we never got round to developing a mortar carrying variant of the Warrior family, instead relying on ancient FV432 series vehicles, utilizing the standard hand laid, and hand loaded 81mm firing through the open roof hatches. Also our employment of 6 mortars per battalion in “peace time” to be raised to a “war time” establishment of 9 tubes – by adding TA augmentees (or more likely stealing bodies from another battalion in the “less than all out war” scenarios of the last decade). Contrast this to the “standard establishment” of 10 tubes of a US Army Stryker Brigade – but more on that later.

At the platoon level, we used to issue the L9A1 51mm hand held mortar, a weapon of a type often referred to as “Commando” mortars. As you all probably know, apparently our involvement in the Global War on Terror used up our stocks of 51mm ammo rather faster than had ever been planned, and then we found out there was no economical way to acquire more. This, alongside a long held desire by some within the infantry establishment who were envious of the US M203 under barrel grenade launcher, to see such weapons deployed widely, eventually saw the official replacement of the 51mm platoon mortar with up to two 40mm UBGL per section. Of course the 51mm had greater reach than the 40mm, it made a bigger bang, its illumination rounds produced more light, and its smoke rounds burned for longer, making more smoke, etc etc I have no issue with this, different tools for different jobs. New model 40mm grenades (medium velocity) have increased range, and increased bang, but they are still really direct fire weapons, not suited to ballistic-ally lobbed, in-direct fire.

However as it ever does, the cyclical nature of wars and technology made sure that what went around came around, and the UK issued a UOR for lightweight 60mm mortars. My understanding of this, and I could be wrong here, is that we first went out for such kit for limited special forces use, and then broadened the procurement to what in effect was a direct replacement for the 51mm as a platoon level weapon for use by non-SF troops in Afghanistan.

So now we have 40mm UBGL’s, 40mm AGL/GMG, Hirtenberger M6-640 60mm mortars, and 81mm mortars – surely our infantry have enough “fire support tools” at their disposal (we are not even touching on “rockets”).

Well before we go there, let’s examine the start of the art; see what we don’t have, and what others are doing.

The modern state of the art

First a caveat, I am not going to examine, mention the often exotic world of Soviet / Russian mortars, with big calibres, automated systems etc. I am going to stick to the “western” worlds systems and developments.

I am also not going to put much emphasis on our humble, beloved 81mm – I will mention developments in the calibre where necessary, but would like to focus on the latest developments at the lower end (60mm) and with its big brother (120mm).

The modern 60mm families

There are many 60mm systems, and families of systems to choose from:

  • Israel’s Soltam – the design chosen to become the US Army M224
  • Denel – the South African manufacturer of various mortars
  • Hirtenberger – the previously unknown (to me) supplier of the UK’s 60mm systems.

The 60mm mortar has recently become an extremely versatile weapon system, building upon the simplicity of operation of predecessors such as the UK’s 51mm and it’s WWII predecessors; while at the same time taking great advantage of light weight materials, improvements in fire direction and targeting and the lethality of munitions. Different nations use many different bits of kit for fire direction and targeting, but at the lowest end of the scale, the Commando variant 60mm is hand held and aimed by eye for direct or indirect fire at what can be very short ranges:

Hirtenberger 60mm Mortar
Hirtenberger 60mm Mortar

At the other end of the scale Denel’s new long barrelled M6, firing special long range ammunition can reach out almost as far as its traditional 81mm bigger brothers, and thus benefits from all the modern battlefield C3 systems, from hand held laser rangefinders for the Mortar Fire Controller (MFC) to hand held ballistic computers.

Munitions range from the staple HE, IR screening smoke, White and Red Phosphorous smoke / incendiary, white light and IR illuminating rounds, with various companies claiming their modern 60mm rounds have the destructive potential of the 81mm rounds of ten years ago (or less).

The family of systems approach makes good use of such commonalities, while levering the technology. Denel for instance can provide the M4 short barrelled, hand held “Commando” or “Patrol” mortar, “standard” barrel lengths for tripod mounted “platoon” mortars, and even long barrelled variants (as mentioned above) that might replace 81mm tubes at the battalion level. All can fire the same basic ammunition, with the sub-set of special long range rounds required only to make the most out of the long barrelled variants. Add in the latest M10-BLLR breach loading variant based on the M6 long range, and you have a turreted weapon for direct or in-direct fire support from AFV’s !!!   TDS even have a new “aiming” platform for rocket launchers and mortars, called Scorpion, which means you could have an automatically laid long range 60mm mortar on the back of something like a Foxhound WMIK ……. just saying…….

As a doctrinal compare and contrast, the US Army puts it’s 60mm tubes in the battalion Mortar Company, alongside any other mortars of any other calibre, and detaches a two tube ‘section’ to each of the 3 Rifle Companies. British practice with the 51mm was that it was carried by the Platoon HQ, giving a minimum of 3 per Rifle Company (with a fourth with the Coy HQ ?). Anecdotal evidence suggests the 51mm was utilised more for smoke and illumination than it was to make big bangs, but I can’t find any info anywhere on what the generally ammo scales were. The US M224 can be used hand held or with its base plate and tripod.

As an interesting aside, all versions of the Israeli Merkava MBT have a 60mm mortar as ‘standard’ kit. MK1’s had this externally mounted, but all other versions have fitted to be loaded and fired from under armour. The Israeli’s picked up this habit from us – a 2 inch mortar was a standard fitting on the Centurion Mk3 we sold them!

Battalion Artillery – the 120mm Mortar

Although the British Army has never “gone big” many of our NATO allies have.

The 120mm mortar is perhaps seen as somewhat of a strange beast; too big to man pack (not that you really, really want to be man packing 81mm, but you can), not as long ranged as the 105mm Light Gun, but lighter and easier to manoeuvre on a wheeled carriage or under slung from a helo. Modern technology has once again started to change the game here, with precision guided rounds, cargo rounds, extended range rounds, and light weight materials being applied to tripods, carriages etc. However while it might be lighter and easier to lug around than a 105 for light infantry, it is really in the mechanised area where the 120mm has made large bounds in capability. There are so many variations on the theme, it is worth examining them in terms to off a categorization of technological capability:

First, good old fashioned – a manually laid and manually loaded 120mm tube in the back of your favourite vehicle, e.g. the old M113 based system of the US Army, and the original version of the Stryker Mortar Carrier Vehicle (MCV-A). 

Second, automatically directed – an automatically laid, but manually loaded system is now the standard for the US Army Stryker brigades (MCV-B) and Heavy Brigades (M113) uses the standard 120mm tube on the CARDOM platform provided by Israel’s Soltam. The platform is connected to the fire control system and automatically “lays” the mortar as required to achieve the firing solution as soon as the vehicle comes to a stop. 

Third, automatic loading – the Singapore Technologies SRAM (Super Rapid Automatic Mortar) system is a good example. Fitted to anything from the rear module of a Bronco (Warthog AATV) to a HUMVEE or even their own “Fast Attack” lightweight 4 x 4, the SRAM is a recoiling mortar with an automated arm loading the bomb into the tube.

Fourth, best of both worlds – Auto laid and auto loaded – this was the goal of the USMC Dragon Fire Expeditionary Fire Support System (EFSS) – which unfortunately did not quite come to pass – yet. The European TDA 120mm rifled mortar, on a platform like the CARDOM which automatically aims the weapon, while also having an auto-loader function like the SRAM. The EFSS would be fitted in armoured vehicles (LAV) and on a trailer for towing.

Instead the Marines have deployed a towed trailer based system, which with a “prime mover” Jeep type vehicle small enough to fit inside a V22 is manually laid and loaded

Fifth, turreted Breach Loading – ahhhhh’ soooo much flexible fire support goodness ! But again, so many options to choose from for your direct and indirect fire support requirements, depending upon the state of your bank balance:

Fifth and a bit. Manual turreted – the BAe Advanced Mortar System (AMS) and AMS II are good examples. Fitted in a manned turret and operated by a crew like any other breach loading tank gun. Tested on the Warrior and used in service on the GM LAV wheeled AFV by the Saudi National Guard

Finally,  automatic turreted – say “Ahhh, Patria” – it rhymes ! From the twin gun goodness of the AMOS to the much smaller and lighter weight fully automated death dealing goodness of the NEMO, the Finns’ have you covered ! I like that Sven Ortman when he stops by always worries about the rate at which the AMOS will fire all its rounds, so don’t forget to buy a second, identical armoured vehicle of your choice to use as an accompanying ammo re-supply vehicle if you pick this puppy ! To be honest, high rate of fire with simultaneous rounds impacting on target at the same time, might just bump such a system from being the infantry pocket artillery to be a “close support” element of the actual Artillery :-)

So, if you want to join the big boys and go up to 120mm there are options, from an infantry mortar in the back of an FV432 that used to carry an 81, to putting a manually operated turret on a refurbished Warrior, to buying a FRES SV variant with a NEMO turret – “you pays yer money and makes yer choice.”

Flexibility – guided and long range rounds

As I noted, the 120mm mortar might be lighter and easier to cart around than a 105mm Light Gun, but it has much shorter range. That differential is being eaten into a little by super-charge rounds, and even by rocket assisted rounds. However the advantage of the mortar in this respect is that it has a higher weight of HE than a 105 round (being closer apparently in effect to a 152 or 155mm rounds) but also in the amount of money being invested by many parties – both users and suppliers, on applying new technologies to the humble mortar round.

The STRIX infra-red guided, top attack, anti-armour round has been available for a long time. It beat the British Merlin MMW radar guided 81mm round by actually making it into service. However at the moment, developments appear to be moving down two well trodden tracks: GPS and Lasers. The main obstacle to adding any kind of guidance electronics to a mortar shell in the past has not really been miniaturization, as you might think, but the G-shock hardening of components. With all solid state micro-electronics, this appears to have been dealt with now. Another break through has been in the aerodynamics and the electro-mechanical actuators to fit movable fins to the front end (the fuze or guidance section) of a mortar round to do the actual guiding of the flight path.

A GPS guided round can much improve the CEP of even a well surveyed and laid in mortar – and despite the reputation of being an ‘area’ effect weapon, mortars can be quite accurate. The GPS also allows for range extension, in that the flight reaches the topic of its ballistic arc, and then takes a non-conventional “gliding” flight path to its eventual destination. As you may not need such accuracy for every mission, the additional cost of a GPS enabled round should not be a big factor in any way.

Next up is the semi-active laser guided developments underway. Based on the requirements of the COIN centric last decade of wars, with tough to meet Rules Of Engagement (ROE) the US and other nations have decided that a laser guided round is a good idea for pin-point accuracy while producing less colatoral damage than even an Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) dropped from your personal favourite fast air platform. Such rounds are in testing, so expect to see them in a back of a Mortar carrier vehicle near you soon !  Actually, the potential issue with laser guided rounds appears to be the paucity of laser designators avilable to illuminate potential targets. This might actually be less of a problem for armoured or mechanised formations, because again, with the miracles of modern miniaturization a laser designator able to “paint” a target out to 4km or more is no longer a “60lb Bergen” sized piece of kit, and should be added to recce vehicle turrets or RWS reasonably easily. Of course nothing is that simple, as then we have to set the beam to the right Pulse Repetition Frequency (PRF) for the seeker in the weapon to find it etc, but despite the devil being in the details, laser guidance is being talked about for 81mm and even 60mm rounds !

As I have mentioned in numerous comment threads, the turreted 120mm mortar could even take on the anti-tank over-watch role, at a pinch, with the Israeli LAHAT laser guided, top attack, dual warhead anti-tank missile, which was designed to be fired from smooth bore guns.

Mortar employment / deployment – Compare and Contrast

Just a quick compare and contrast exercise with our US allies. A Stryker Medium Brigade Combat Team (BCT) has 10 Stryker MCV-B, each equipped with the CARDOM 120mm mortar system. 6 are detached as two vehicle sections to the Rifle Companies, 4 are kept at ‘Battalion” level. Although the vehicles are identical and all carry the same 120mm system, which cannot be dismounted from its mounting, the American mortar company takes the ‘arms locker’ (or armoury, or “golf bag”) approach – the 4 battalion level vehicles carry an 81mm mortar for dismounted ops, and the 6 company level vehicles carry the M224 60mm mortar. I have no idea as to the amounts of rounds of any specific calibre that are carried per vehicle as standard, or what this means for their logistical support in general but it is an interesting approach.

In a similar manner I have recently read that Canadian Army artillery troops are going to be trained on the M777 155mm howitzer, the 105mm Light Gun and the 81mm mortar, and will deploy with the appropriate system as required (we do something similar with cross training on AS90 and 105mm LG).


Is the solid old 81mm being left behind as a soon to be ‘red haired step child’ ?

Could a “family” of 60mm mortars, with hand held Commando mortars in the Platoon HQ and long barrelled, long range 60mm versions being used at the battalion level replace the ‘81’ for light infantry formations ?

Could the heavier 120mm mortars in some form replace the 81mm for mechanised and armoured formations ?

A modest proposal, or two, or three……..

So to provoke the discussion I will make a few modest proposals, I don’t care about budgets really, this is heading into fantasy fleet land somewhat, as I said mainly to provoke discussion in the comments thread

  1. 120mm turreted mortar becomes standard for Mechanised / Armoured Infantry formations, and is added to Brigade Recce Regiments (ex-FRR). Let’s go with BAe AMS II turret on Warrior and FRES platforms.
  2. 60mm mortar becomes standard for non-mechanised infantry; with a hand held Commando mortar in the Platoon HQ, and the long barrelled, long range variety in the weapons / support coy.
  3. Marines get SRAM for Viking in the Armoured Support Group. 29 Cdo Rgt RA gets 120mm on wheeled carriages or on BAe trailer mount for close support fires.
  4. 16 AAB gets an Armoured Support Group with all the Warthogs, which also gets an SRAM variant. 7 RHA also gets 120mm in place of 105 LG.
  5. TA get all 81mm, and eventually make the slow transition to 60mm, same as regs.
  6. FRES SV “Protected Mobility” variant gets Israeli style “under armour” 60mm
  7. Scimitar MK2 gets accepted into core fleet as specialist light armoured fire support vehicle with Rarden replaced with Denel M10 (or just gets the Denel turret with it in).
  8. 1 x RA regiment re-roled to “Armoured Close Support” with 4 batteries of 8 x FRES SV with AMOS turret (paired with FRES SV Ammo tender), batteries on 1 in 4 roulement (training, high readiness, deployed, re-set).
  9. 105mm Light Gun retired (consider this in the light of more mortars, a wheeled 155mm, AS90 all to TA and LIMAWS(M) revived for “long range sniper” role with GMLRS).

I am sure there is enough contentious claptrap there to get you all talking !




As a close to this piece from Jed

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Pete Arundel
Pete Arundel
January 6, 2012 6:40 pm

I wonder if a turreted 81mm automatic mortar like the Russian Vasilek might be acceptable to the British Army. They have tended to avoid the 120mm mortar on the grounds that their excellent 81mm mortar has (had?) similar a range and put a similar weight of explosive on target due to a higher rate of fire.

January 6, 2012 6:44 pm

I have fired the exact mortar you see in the first picture on this topic. I just HAD to say that!

John Hartley
John Hartley
January 6, 2012 7:15 pm

Would quite like a few lightweight 155mm M777 for Uk.

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
January 6, 2012 7:28 pm

An excellent article Jed!

Two links from Phil West’s webpage which are relevent:

January 6, 2012 7:53 pm

For a silly idea, perhaps an AMOS-style system but with a 120mm tube and a 60mm tube to provide destructive power and lighter, higher rate suppressive effect in one package?

January 6, 2012 8:56 pm

Excellent stuff. Do you feel better now after getting all that out?

January 6, 2012 9:02 pm

Regarding the 51mm mortar being replaced by the 60mm mortar because of no more ammunition being available – I wonder why the Mod didn’t order 51mm ammunition from india as they still use the 51mm mortar (a copy of the british ww2 2inch mortar) unless the ammuntion is incompatible?

January 6, 2012 9:25 pm

I particularly liked that 914mm calibre weapon at the end inserted by TD, although I’m not sure the preparation time is an act of war. Well, I nearly liked it as much as the recent post on parachute training, which has set a new high standard. In my own fantasy fleet, I’m going to have several squadrons of those girls as a diversionary tactic. I will leave it to the rest of you to argue about what sort of AAR and air-basing arrangements the jet should have, while I supervise their training.

January 6, 2012 9:25 pm

Great post Jed, I like the suggestions (in the absence of a personal knowledge). :)

January 6, 2012 9:34 pm

Could the bigger tubes launch LM too?

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
January 6, 2012 9:39 pm

@ TD – “Little” David – :o

@ Jed – I like the suggestions, however 2 points about ruthless commonality; having a (related) family of 60mm mortars and shared ammo makes a lot of sense but are they up to replacing the 81mm? As you said they have a great reputation and are apparently very effective in action.

Also there appears to be a lot of different versions of 120mm mortars. Obviously they can share ammo but do we need that many versions, and are some getting way from the strength of mortars, their simplicity and cheapness?

January 7, 2012 7:52 am

re: 2nd M327 vid

The USMC rocket assist round has a range of ~17km.

btw, anyone speak French?

Brian Black
Brian Black
January 7, 2012 12:40 pm

I like the 120mm, and the automatic systems – and we will need new mortar carrier vehicles over the next ten years – but if the cash wasn’t there for an auto system, would it be worthwhile swapping 81 for 120 for another albeit bigger conventional tube in the back of a carrier?

paul g
January 7, 2012 5:35 pm

how about blagging some weisel 120mm mortar systems for 16AAB, fire under cover and can be ferried about by helo if required.

paul g
January 7, 2012 5:36 pm

damm forgot to say blag from germany whilst they are doing their downsize.

January 7, 2012 6:11 pm

@ Jed

The CARDOM mortar system, according to the promo video the tube can be removed and fitted with a normal bipod so can be used away from its carrier vehicle, also 120mm and 81mm tubes are interchangable using the same automated base.
so in ruthless commonality we have a heavy mortar platoon of 120mm and company platoons of 81mm with no extra training and with the ability to dismount the mortars.

January 7, 2012 11:20 pm

It’s interesting to point out that Israel still uses the Centurion in a number of different roles including combat engineering (as the PUMA) and these have been heavily modified to be used to deal with IEDs.

Singapore and South Africa also still have Centurion tanks. Singapore’s were updated by the Israeli’s to a more modern standard and are called ‘tempest’.

It makes you wonder whether getting rid of all those Challengers is really such a bright idea when we could save ourselves quite a bit of money by reusing the chassis’ for whatever vehicle we think we might need next.

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
January 8, 2012 2:34 pm

The Israelis used to have Sherman chassis with 160mm mortars – great for urban combat allegedly.

January 8, 2012 11:08 pm

Jed, as far as I know all of the Sherman chassis vehicles have been retired with the exception of a single type that is in storage, the Ro’em.

The ‘Makmat’ was the vehicle mounted with the 160 mm mortar.
It was explained to me at yad-la-shiryon that the thought behind them was that the Israeli’s found that as they live on a coastal plateau they are nearly always fighting uphill and providing indirect fire from distance was a problem that they had to overcome but that they didn’t actually have the money to solve with more artillery pieces.

Most of their funding at this time was being spent on their airforce, a good move as it turned out.

Once the Makmat was in service it was primarily pressed into an Anti-tank role as the soviet made tanks of the Arab armies had to stop to fire. In theory Makmat crews would park out of range and lob mortars at them whilst Israeli tanks moved in to engage.

In actuality I’m told that when they were needed in the Sinai many of them had been moved to intercept any potential Jordanian movements. Typical!

Dangerous Dave
Dangerous Dave
January 9, 2012 4:10 pm

: Very interesting article! Can’t really comment on the mortar side of things (except that if 81mm is so good, and has a lot of development in it, maybe we should mount that in our APC’s and not 60mm?). But Merlin is a different matter, did you know it was going to be used in an air-launched capacity under a BAe project called SABA (in it P.1239 form). Can’t imagine what it would be like sitting in the cockpit when all 72 rounds are fired, tho’ !

January 10, 2012 7:12 pm

My analogue text for the Bundeswehr:

I have observed that people easily fall in love with turreted 120 mm mortars (strangely, not so much with French turreted 81mm mortars). My attitude is different, since I got a shock years ago when I learned about the multi-million cost of such turrets. This reminded me of the original virtue of the mortar; simplicity.

In regard to mounted mortars I subsribe to Israeli 120/81 mm CARDOM until I learn anything bad about it, and to the French turreted MCB 81 81mm mortar (exclusively for airborne multi-purpose AFVs).
I’m not sure about the “commando” mortar variety in face of 40x46mm MV rounds’ competition, but I’m fascinated by the FLY-K from that category.

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
January 12, 2012 9:13 pm

@ SO – Why exclusively airborne AFV’s? Wouldn’t the 81mm/12.7mm turret as standard in light/medium armoured units greatly increase its flexibility and organic firepower?
What about a refit for Scimitar 2? Scout and light infantry (airborne/Marine) fire support?

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
January 12, 2012 9:42 pm

What about 155mm mortars?

Probably more likely artillery than infantry controlled…

January 12, 2012 11:51 pm

Airborne AFVs better be very versatile with all the disorder of an air assault. This is the only condition which justifies the expense of a turret-mounted (= more versatile than simple turntables in the hull) mortar.

Mortars cannot be available as 100% indirect fire systems if they’re also ought to be available as direct fire systems. The mix is somewhat enticing, but doesn’t convince me.
Armoured battlegroup direct fire vehicles need much more expensive equipment for their survival and for target detection/ID than a mere mortar carrier needs.

January 13, 2012 1:05 am

Surely the whole point of a mortar (in protective terms) is to be outside the direct fire zone? You can’t rule out a mortar vehicle being caught by surprise, but mostly you can be reasonably certain it will not be being directly shot at. In which case, why the expense of an AFV? Any flatbed type truck (perhaps with strengthened load bed) would do. Dismountable, as well.

You could get 4 Toyata Hi-Lux wagons into a C-130, 2 with mortars, 2 as ammunition carriers, and looking at the weight, a total of about 500 rounds of 120mm and 1300 rounds of 81mm for the same weight as a CVR)T)2 variant with 400 rounds of 81mm (and I’m not sure a CVR(T)2 variant could actually carry 400 rounds).

January 13, 2012 8:31 am

Hi James,
RE “will not be being directly shot at. In which case, why the expense of an AFV?”
– splinters and airbursting rounds?

Exactly the design criteria for SEP (splitterskyddad); anything better than that would be an additional kit, only added when needed (and can be transported separately; the C-130 airportability was another design criterion)

January 13, 2012 7:45 pm

Very good, Jed.

I like the idea of a 120 mm mortar that automatically lays and loads mounted on a FRES UV platform. It makes perfect sense.

I didn’t realise how good the 60 mm mortar is. The sheer speed of target engagement makes it a very tidy weapon at platoon and company level. I wouldn’t say it has made the 81 mm redundant, but it does as you argue make room for a larger tube at battalion level.

I’d like to Medium Armoured Infantry Battalions’ mortar platoons equipped with 8×8 vehicles fitted 120 mm mortar turrets.

I’d also like to see Medium Armoured Cavalry Regiments equipped with 8×8 vehicles fitted with 120 mm tank guns, but that’s another story.

If we had 40 mm CTA on standard IFVs, supported by 120 mm anti-tank guns on a tank destroyer variant and a 120 mm mortar vehicle variant, we would have a very potent mix of vehicles.

paul g
January 13, 2012 8:22 pm

who needs an AFV or even a flatbed toyota when you’ve got a perfectly good hip!!!

January 13, 2012 8:32 pm

If we have 120mm guns on an IFV chassis, what happens to the tanks?

IFVs, after all, are supposed to function in concert with the MBTs. Introducing a lighter vehicle with the same capacity in all aspects other than protection is simply going to supplant the heavier vehicle on ops. As a result, this “potent mix of vehicles” could well reduce the capability of our heavy units.

Now a way around this would be to have the “Medium” units of current weight-class IFVs and Medium-weight tanks. These are deliberately sub 40t.

To provide the real armoured power, you have “Heavy” units, 50-60+ tonnes tanks and supporting vehicles on a common chassis.

If you had a completely fresh sheet, then you could possibly entertain a chassis with a basic level of protection at 30-40t with the capacity to up-armour to 50-60t. This would be quite inefficient if deployed at the lower weight as the drivetrain and power would need to be scaled to the larger size but possibly cheaper than having two families of vehicles with very similar capacities.

January 13, 2012 9:29 pm

Hi paul g,

RE and one comment there,

When we were discussing the countermass weapon designs, one of them was a shoulder launched one, using normal 81mm mortar rounds (not a huge range, obviously).

The biggest problem was to use rifling for level flight accuracy, while not making the force of the propellent turn the launch tube (on the shoulder!) as well
– there is a comment there, on the thread, that points to this being revived (the problem was solved and the shoulder was still in the old place, after firing)

January 13, 2012 11:09 pm

Hi Jed,

Yes, I had that one on some earlier thread, But the beauty of it is:
– not just a good mortar with very low recoil pressure, but also the chosen vehicle can handle it, so no lowering of the plate (stopping and taking time)
– but better than that, just like in the French artillery (155mm wheeled units and 120mm mortars, also wheeled, working together)these Agrabs use the Denel fire control system for both together

UAE seems to be combining the best-of-breed in a clever way on many fronts:
– BMP-3s for mech infantry,and a more mobile scouting/ skirting force with AMVs (same turret/ gun/ logistics tail)
– funnily enough, also mortars on the AMVs, but the same turrets on patrol boats (as an anti-invasion force; land, and mortar rounds raining onto you from land and from sea); both of the latter are of the Patria type… not sure if the Singaporean SRAM uses the same rounds

January 13, 2012 11:16 pm

Commonality in the thinking of how a fire unit is put together, for maximum utility and minimum cost in ” just like in the French artillery (155mm wheeled units and 120mm mortars, also wheeled, working together)these Agrabs use the Denel fire control system for both together”
– I did not want to say that the French use Denel’s fire control system

January 14, 2012 4:38 pm

@Mr Fred,

Re: What happens to tanks if we have wheeled IFVs with 120 mm guns?

This is an important question and surely one that is occupying the minds of NATO land combat strategists. The whole point of 8x8s is that they provide strategic mobility, a capability that has become increasingly important, not only because we have moved the British Army of the Rhine back to the UK, but also because these types of vehicles lend themselves well to the kind of asymmetric and peace-keeping campaigns we seem to get involved in. They allow us to deploy rapidly hence the term ‘FRES’: Future Rapid Effects System.

In a general war scenario or a situation like Libya, we might need to rapidly deploy a brigade. Whether that was to Eastern Europe or to the Middle East, 8x8s are likely to arrive in theatre long before heavy tracked AFVs such as Challenger 2. Without tank support, an 8×8 battalion would be vulnerable, especially if they faced enemy tanks.

The Italian Army has got round the problem by developing a vehicle called the Centauro, which is an 8×8 tank destroyer that mounts a 105 mm gun (and soon a 120 mm gun) and weighs less than 30 tonnes. Firing HE as well as anti-tank ammunition, these vehicles have proved very effective in Afghanistan for convoy protection. Their off-road performance is astonishing. Most important, the Centauro has significant armour protection across the front and side of the vehicle. While neither armour nor mobility are on a par with MBTs, the Centauro ensures high levels of crew survivability. It can also neutralise any MBT currently in service.

We are not going to replace tanks and MICVs with 8x8s, but heavy armour is useless when it takes weeks to arrive in theatre by ship. So while we wait for heavy armour to be deployed, 8×8 tank destroyers can play a vital roll. The Italians are currently creating mixed brigades comprised of 8×8 Centauros (tank destroyers) and Freccias (IFVs). In exercises, the Italian Army has deployed and redeployed its 8×8 brigades two or three hundred miles in a day. This raises the question of how does artillery support keep pace with the 8×8 regiments? Jed has provided a compelling answer: 120 mm mortars.

To provide the Army with a broad range of capabilities, we need traditional heavy armour in the 60 tonne class, but we also need air transportable medium armour: 8x8s in the 30 tonne class. While we need to be careful about using 8x8s like conventional tanks, as I am sure you know, recent developments in appliqué armour have provided extra armoured protection that can substantially survivability.

The question this discussion leads to is what about FRES SV Scout? It is air transportable, but with a 40 mm CTA alone, it may not provide sufficient anti-armour firepower. Once you up-gun and and up-armour an ASCOD 2 to give it the same capabilities as a Centauro 8×8 tank destroyer, would likely increase its weight above 35 tonnes. As good as FRES SV may be, it cannot provide strategic mobility in the same class as a modern 8×8 vehicle.

What you have with heavy armour and medium armour is two complementary capabilities. i wonder whether a UK Centauro type vehicle or upgraded Warrior would be a better option?

Apologies for hijacking the thread and taking it in a different direction, but I think that the enduring need for the FRES UV class of 8×8 medium armour makes the case for an automatic loading and laying 120 mm mortars even stronger.

January 14, 2012 5:22 pm

Hi Monty,

A nice piece! while I agree with all of it, and also the concluding paragraph, this bit here:
” raises the question of how does artillery support keep pace with the 8×8 regiments? Jed has provided a compelling answer: 120 mm mortars.

To provide the Army with a broad range of capabilities, we need traditional heavy armour in the 60 tonne class, but we also need air transportable medium armour: 8x8s in the 30 tonne class.”

– while I am with Jed
– there will also need to be other fire support, as I have raised all along the way:
— wheeled 155, where is it?
— GMLRS in version light, did not get funded!

Not difficult, and not expensive. Just needing to keep an eye on [not] making the logistics tail too diverse & complicated (= a cost vs. the benefit of having the right effects, at the right time, reaching out to the ranges required)

January 14, 2012 5:32 pm

Well, it would be the first comment thread I’ve redirected.

I must confess that I got my wires slightly crossed earlier. I had thought that the IFV and ATk guns were tracked. Support vehicles for a mechanised formation are much less likely to conflict with the heavy tracked contingent.

I would question the idea that wheeled vehicles are substantially more strategically mobile than tracked, especially over extended distances.
Air mobility is a fallacy for any large formation, all the more so if you are operating 20-30t vehicles and with the size of the RAF’s transport fleet. At any great distance (really much more than 1000miles) then it’s got to be easier to take trains or ships, at which point wheeled versus tracks makes very little difference.
Wheeled scores at operational mobility – moves of several hundred miles over road networks with little to no opposition.

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
January 14, 2012 5:34 pm

@ Monty – I am not convinced of the strategic ; mobility of wheels vs. tracks; it’s an old debate, and each type has pro’s and con’s, but weight wise tracked vehicles tend to be better, particularly over 20 tons, and more compact, making them better at ait transportation:

“Army studies unanimously
conclude that a tracked configuration
is the optimal solution for tactical,
high-mobility roles (off-road usage
greater than 60 percent), gross vehicle
weights in excess of 20 tons, and missions
requiring unrestricted terrain
movement, continuous all-weather operations,
smaller silhouettes/dimensional
envelopes, and greater survivability.”

January 14, 2012 8:03 pm

Thanks for those comments. Gareth, let me clarify the term ‘strategic mobility’. It is generally considered to mean the business of travelling to the battlefield; whereas ‘tactical mobility’ is moving around the battlefield.

Bitter experience with a troop of reasonably new Scimitars in the early 1980s showed how hard it was to move long distances by tracked on road. Invariably the links would heat-up and cause expansion. We frequently threw tracks. We also suffered a lot of other mechanical breakdowns and then there was the question of fuel consumption. Moving an entire Battle Group with MBTs, APCs and supporting tracked vehicles was a hell of an undertaking. Advancing 100 kilometres in a day was feasible, but 500 was simply not possible.

The reality of modern warfare, certainly in Europe, is that we have an incredible network of roads and tracks.With 8x8s, you really can move an entire infantry battalion 500 kilometres in a day. That represents a massive leap in capability and makes all the difference.

i agree that 8x8s are not better than tracked AFVs for providing overall battlefield mobility; however, the latest generation of 8x8s have advanced to such a degree that they can certainly keep up with MBTs and other tracked vehicles as well as negotiating significant obstacles. Moreover, if a track is broken a tank or APC becomes immobile; but 8x8s can lose two or three wheels and still limp back to base.

And, yes, air mobility is a fallacy for large formations. But you can transport 20 8x8s to theatres by A400 much easier than you can 20 Warriors.You need a C17 to transport a single Challenger 2.

Finally, ArmChairCivvy. Yes. Amen. Where are the 8×8 wheeled 155 mm guns and MLRS systems? Once we get a viable 8×8 chassis into service, hopefully a ton of other user requirements will be submitted resulting in an entire family of 8×8 variants.

Brian Black
Brian Black
January 14, 2012 10:15 pm

Dangerous Dave mentioned a plan to air-launch 81mm Merlin rounds.

The USMC have begun to arm their RQ-7 Shadow UAV, previously considered too small to carry a useful weapons load. The weapon of choice is supposedly an 81mm RCFC (Roll Controlled Fixed Canard) GPS/INS guided mortar bomb.

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
January 14, 2012 11:46 pm

@ Monty – Sorry – crossed wires. You were talking about what I would call theatre/operational mobility, in which case you have a point:

“Operational mobility refers to the ability to swiftly allocate and relocate forces within a theater of crisis or war. The challenge it poses is more on a regional than a continental scale. One factor relevant to operational mobility is the “rolling resistance” of a vehicle traveling on ordinary roads. On roads the rolling resistance of tracked vehicles equals four percent of their weight, on average, while that of their wheeled counterparts (fitted with cross-country tires) equals only 2 percent of their weight. Consequently, wheeled vehicles need less fuel and can cover longer distances by road before they need to be refueled.

This advantage of wheeled vehicles disappears, however, when they move off roads. Then their fuel consumption may be at least as high as that of tracked vehicles (of equal weight). Still, if patrolling and area control missions are emphasized, road travel predominates and, thus, the advantage of fuel economy accrues to the wheeled class. Even in the context of typical warfighting scenarios, off-the-road activities constitute less than 50 percent of overall travel. This is because, within a sizeable theater, many movements have to be devoted to marching the troops to the combat areas in a timely fashion, rather than to maneuvering in the thick of battle.

There are two reasons that forces equipped with wheeled armor are more likely to deploy operationally in a timely fashion:

– First, there are fewer and shorter refueling stops. (The average road range of wheeled vehicles exceeds that of their tracked counterparts by 50 – 100 percent.)

– Second, the average marching speed of wheeled vehicles is, on roads, also 50 – 100 percent higher than that of tracked vehicles.

The fact that wheeled armor can cover longer distances faster than tracked vehicles is complemented by yet another advantage: There is much less fatigue for their occupants because the wheeled platforms do not suffer the vibrations generated by tracks.”

This article might be of interest. Its conclusion is that an expeditionary force should consist of heavy (tracked) and light (4×4) armour; the only role it sees for medium 8×8 is fire support – artillery, MRLS, and/or fibre optic guided missiles.

January 15, 2012 10:36 am

As somebody who has good amount experience of off road driving, a good knowledge of agricultural and construction plant, and as a fan of things on tracks I can honestly say that something on wheels, especially a something with all wheel drive, locking differentials, a large torquey diesel engine, good clearances and approach and departure angles, will take you as far as you would want to take a vehicle the size of a small domestic garage. In serve Arctic, mountain, or jungle yes tracks would have an advantage. And on beaches and other areas where the ground is saturated. We mustn’t forget that even if most of Europe is countryside that fields are man made environments designed somewhat to allow vehicles and machinery easy operation. And we musn’t forget either that there were very good reasons why the South Africans, whose sphere of operations covered a good proportion of Sub-Saharan African (and whose terrain mirrored those areas that it did not operate in) designed, preferred, and used wheel vehicles over tracked ones.

(Has everybody seen that odd photo I posted over in the Open-LAS thread of a BTR climbing form the sea onboard an LST? )

January 15, 2012 11:55 am

It is constantly quoted that 30t is the likely weight for use in evaluation of armour airportability, and its feasibility on a scale that would make any difference.

This one (from Jed) “Poland has gone from it’s ex Soviet BTR’s to the Patia AMV.” ties up nicely with a derivation that the Poles call AMS (artillery mobile system)
– 105mm, with direct and indirect fire and the Falarick for anti-tank over extended ranges
– but more importantly, drives straight into a C-130 and weighs 17.5 t (battle ready, whether the rounds are within that weight or not is not stated)

Posted the link in the last two days, I think

January 15, 2012 12:40 pm

Jed, it is important not to let the UK’s dysfunctional approach to procurement obscure the facts.

our ability to transport light / medium armour by air was governed by the payload capacity of the C130. When the need arose, however, we could quickly deploy a squadron of CVR(T) to a hotspot. Even a troop of three vehicles could provide worthwhile fire support to a battalion on foot.

A generation later, the rules have changed. IEDs and RPGs mean an armour requirement that has increased vehicle weight above 20 tonnes. The latest generation of 8x8s have set a new bar for capability in terms of mobility, firepower and protection. While C130 cannot carry them, A400 can.

I can see plenty of situations where we might deploy 20 8x8s by air. I accept that the UK’s strategic airlift capacity is pathetic compared to that of the US Army, Russia and China, but our inability to so far develop a coherent means of rapidly deploying our forces shouldn’t undermine the capacity of this genre of vehicle to allow that.

I realise that the UK cannot afford FRES UV, but the capabilities this family would offer to truly fulfil Cameron’s vision of genuinely multi-role combat brigades remain paramount.

Personally, I think tracked vehicles are history. The increasing adoption of 8x8s (not 4x4s or 6x6s which are not the same) by every army in Europe except our own tends to show this.

BTW, thank you for pointing me to Gabriele’s excellent article on Italy’s Centauro / Freccia brigades. They are the future.

January 15, 2012 12:53 pm

Why is it always weight with these vehicles and never discussions about volume? Spartan is 2/5 the weight of Warrior but the former is only a feet smaller in all major dimensions; the former’s dimensions are 2/5 of the latter. Crews, weapons, engines, and transmissions can only be of a certain scale.

paul g
January 15, 2012 1:10 pm

In the tracks/wheels debate I notice when looking at modern forestry vehicles are wheeled but also they have lightweight banding tracks for working in the really bad mire. With the introduction of band tracks for modern tracked vehicles is there a place for these on the decks of 8×8’s for banging on the back 2 axles in case of bogging in/getting through a bad section.

Also th pointed mooted about the M777 155mm isn’t ironic that most of it is built in the UK and we continue to ignore it. For a wheeled artillery unit, i would go for the RG35 mentioned above 6×6 for 155mm M777 and the 4×4 for 105mm light gun, the two versions have a 70% commonality, which would cut down on training and spares required.

not a brilliant photo of the forestry tracks but helps to try paint a picture of what i was thinking

January 15, 2012 2:17 pm

Anyone else have a bad “oops, we fucked up” feeling looking at the Italian 8x8s and medium brigade structure compared to FRES, SDSR, etc? And they went WiMAX for the radio network…

Brian Black
Brian Black
January 15, 2012 3:12 pm

Hi, Alex. A f’ked up, f’king up and not gonna get any better any time soon feeling.

January 15, 2012 4:24 pm

@ Paul G

And of course there are some pieces of forestry equipment that walks.

My favourite system though are discrete independent tracks found on some large tractors,


I think it would have a boon for Mastiff if its aft 4 wheels had had tracks.

January 15, 2012 4:26 pm

@ Alex

Imagine if the MoD made no mistakes what would we be doing with our internet time?

Think Defence
January 15, 2012 4:29 pm
Reply to  x

Its funny you should mention those articulated forestry vehicles, have a post in the pipeline about weird vehicle concepts that might find use in green.

January 15, 2012 5:22 pm

Hi Jed,funnily enough we might end up with something like “perhaps a way forwarded would have been wheeled medium armour for “Multi-role Brigades” with a brigade worth of Chally 2 and a brigade worth of Warrior in a properly funded TA ”
– spreading what we have as thin as one possibly can while still seen to be effective
– so very US like, two heavy brigades, matching tanks and AI bn’s 1:1 as a starting assumption, and bringing in more of either type of formation from TA call-up, depending on the foreseen nature of the conflict
– would leave only two brigades to kit out new (on wheels)
– maintains light infantry, maybe even independent bn’s, but
– leaves the already announced BRR plans on the limb, as the recce and screening formations would be less mobile within-theater than the main formation (on wheels)!

In your following post, the S. Africans suffered quite a bit of caliber-insufficiency shock with the T-62 “being the most powerful tank of the conflict. In combats after the victory in the Cuito Cuanavale battle in 1988, they contribute to stop and defeat the South African armor forces with Olifants Tanks, ”
– the quote is from a Cuban source, but at times there were 40 Olifants and 60 other AFVs engaged (the Elands with 90 mm turning out to be of very limited value when to other side also had tanks)

January 15, 2012 5:44 pm

For a long time I have thought there has been gap in the military history book market for a single volume on Cuba’s military adventures in Africa.

January 15, 2012 6:03 pm


Stryker is broadly based on the Piranha III. We selected the Piranha V for FRES UV before we realised we had run out of money. It would have been two generations ahead of Stryker. The original Stryker didn’t have a V-shaped hull or good anti-mine (anti-IED) protection, which is why it has done less well in Afghanistan. The US Army has now instituted an upgrade programme that will effectively turn all existing Stryker vehicles into something resembling the Piranha V in terms of protection.

In case that makes the Piranha V sound good, I heard an interesting snippet not so long ago about it. Pranha V is the 8×8 FRES UV we specified as a result of testing the Piranha IV during the FRES UV ‘trials of truth’. Apparently, we kept on saying to GD: ‘Can you add this?’, ‘Can you make it do that?’ and so on. In other words, we used the trial to flesh out the final requirement, rather than to test an actual vehicle that we would then buy and field. We signed-off the Piranha V spec and then, when it finally appeared, we were given something that was an order of magnitude bigger, higher and heavier than we anticipated – and, the killer, it was also much more expensive. Our only way out of it was to impose IP ownership requirements that GD was bound to refuse. I don’t know whether this is true, but 8×8 tech has advanced substantially since 2007. We were lucky not to be saddled with Pirnaha V.

Since 2007, much better 8x8s have emerged. You’re right that African vehicle producers have never faced much beyond T-62s and perhaps the odd T-72 or M-60, but the RG41 is an excellent vehicle by Patria, Piranha and Stryker standards. BAE Systems would like the MoD to think that it is what we would have liked FRES UV to be. But it too is massive.

Alex is right. When you look at what the Italians are doing, you feel a creeping sense of envy and wonder at how they can achieve so much when they spend so much less than we do on defence. Their medium brigade structure will, I believe, become a blueprint for all modern armies. In case it isn’t obvious, I like the Centauro and Freccia vehicles very much. I’d love to see a trial of truth between a Centauro with a 120 mm tank gun and FRES SV ASCOD 2 with its 40 mm CTA cannon.

Jed, I also like the idea of retaining heavy armoured brigades. I prefer focused assets because they better concentrate force. In my fantasy army, we would have two heavy armoured brigades. Each one would consist of three battle groups, each with a Challenger 2 regiment and three warrior battalions. To this I would add two medium armoured brigades each with one 8×8 Centauro B1 equivalent regiment and three 8×8 Freccia IFV equivalents. I would also have to further light brigades. One would be an airborne (helicopter assault) brigade; the other a marine brigade equipped with an amphibious 8×8. I would standardise five heavy weapons (120 mm tank gun, 40 mm CTA cannon, 81 mm mortar, 120 mm mortar, 155 mm artillery and 105 mm artillery) across these brigade types:

1. Heavy armoured brigade: Challenger 2 with 120 mm tank gun, Warrior with 40 mm CTA cannon, Warrior with 120 mm mortar, and AS90 155 mm artillery

2. Medium armoured brigade: as above, but wheeled not tracked with Centauro and Freccia equivalents and 120 mm mortar and 8×8 with 155 mm artillery.

3. I would give each airborne and marine battalion a tank regiment equipped with Centauro equivalents (120 mm tank gun mounted on an 8×8 chassis), 81 mm mortars plus towed 105 mm artillery. It might indeed make sense to use a lighter 6×6 vehicle like the RG35.

Finally, I agree that banded tracks are a step forward, but they still don’t confer the same level of strategic mobility that wheeled 8x8s provide. This is the reason why Europe’s armies have adopted the latter.

One more thing (as the late, great Steve Jobs would say): x, please stop comparing the CVR(T) volume and weight to a modern 8×8. CVR(T) in its original state is no more than an aluminium coffin when deployed to an IED-infested combat theatre. The RG41, Boxer and VCBI all carry the Scimitar’s weight in protection, i.e. 8 tonnes of armour. Great in its day, it really is time that CVR(T) was pensioned off.

January 15, 2012 6:06 pm

x, v true.

I didn’t know that they conducted full-scale tank battles in the Ogaden.

And for that decisive battle (that I quoted) in Angola they dispatched 15.000 fresh elite troops (as they were losing badly) bringing the deployment to 50.000. Sure, bank-rolled by a superpower, but still; compare the numbers with major UK ops

January 15, 2012 6:23 pm


I failed to thank you for your excellent post. Good points.

January 15, 2012 6:43 pm

As far as the Cubans go (and I would like that book as well), isn’t that a great example of what you can achieve if you have lots of big ugly Soviet airlifters?

January 15, 2012 6:53 pm

@ ACC re Cuba in Africa

Yes it is a different picture than that comes to mind when thinking of Cuba and military matters. That of guerillas and revolutionaries running around in jungles and mountains with just small arms.

There are these two books,

But they don’t quite cover it.

paul g
January 15, 2012 6:56 pm

@ x,
strangely enough my local RNLI station has taken delivery of a land rover delivery with the tracks conversion as previous bulldozer track type thing was too slow and heavy for the slog out over wet sand at low tide.
check out the bad boy!!!/photo.php?fbid=10150511380482566&set=a.10150511380037566.400348.111298287565&type=1&theater

January 15, 2012 7:05 pm

@ paulg

As a RNLI member I think that is smashing. :)

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
January 15, 2012 7:33 pm
Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
January 15, 2012 8:08 pm

I can see why European countries and South Africa like wheels, for the theatre/operational level they are cheaper, longer ranged and easier on the maintenance/logistics. Whever it’s driving across Europe on roads or the savannah of southern Africa, it’s the best option.

However, two points keep nagging me. The benefit of wheels over tracks quickly reduce and even disappear the heavier the vehicle; also combine that with making the vehicle more complicated with 8×8 drive, tyre pressure system etc, and perhaps like the mortar (trying to get back on thread!) you destroy the reason why wheeled vehicles are often successful, cost and simplicity?

Secondary, before we get to that road network/open savannah (assuming they are available) we have to transport our vehicles by sea or air. The medium 8×8 armoured vehicle is really too heavy for air and we can carry the same/similar numbers of heavy armour by sea.

Wouldn’t a heavy/light mix, which maximises the advantages of track and tyre (while mutually compensating for their weaknesses), be a better option for the UK?

January 15, 2012 8:43 pm

That Iveco 8×8 that Gabby mentions in article is only 15t (10t lighter than Warrior,) 1.5m longer than Warrior, but 30cm (1ft!) narrow than Warrior. Warrior carries 10 (crew+dismounts). 8×8 carries 1+12

The Iveco 8×8 is 2.4m longer than Stormer, 3t heavier than Stormer, Stormer carries 3+8 but Iveco carries 2 extra bods. (1+12)

The 8×8 seems to offer a good compromise.

January 15, 2012 9:21 pm

When we talk about wheels versus tracks, it is easy to lump all wheeled vehicles into the debate. However, 4×4 and 6×6 vehicles do not offer anything like the same level of cross-country mobility as an 8×8. This configuration is very close to a tracked vehicle in terms of off-road performance -still ultimately not as good – but 80%-90% of the ability. As much as I like Jed’s idea of adopting the 6×6 RG35 in various guises, its off-road ability is vastly inferior to that of the larger and heavier RG41.

One other thing to point out is that while the modern 8×8 chassis is highly sophisticated and possibly more complex than a typical torsion beam tracked vehicle, it is more reliable. You can also replace individual wheel assemblies in one go.

X, both the Centauro and freesia vehicles that Gabriele refers to weigh around 26-28 tonnes, not 15. Earlier prototypes may have weighed this amount, but adding the required protection has upped the total weight considerably. The armour of a German Boxer, for example, provides better protection than a Warrior. While an upgraded Warrior with large side plates and extra glacis-plate armour is well above the weight limits of the A400. A Warrior cannot be air lifted in an A400, but a Boxer can be.

Again, the level of protection offered by Boxer, VCBI, Centauro, and Piranha is in a different league to that offered by the Stormer. It may carry extra bodies, but they would be dead bodies. If you want light armour, then you need vehicles in the 8-10 tonne weight class such as the FP/ Rocardo Ocelot (Foxhound) or the front half of an SI Kinetics Bronco (Viking / Warthog). But these only carry 4-6 personnel. (Actually, Warthog has been a great success in Afghanistan and will replace Viking across the fleet afterwards.)

January 15, 2012 9:25 pm

Resulting from Iveco’s continuing developments for crew safety, the SUPERAV 8×8 Armoured Personnel Carrier is based on an innovative hull design, which grants the vehicle an outstanding and unique combination of performance, payload and protection. As mobile as the lightest and as protected as the heaviest comparable solutions, SUPERAV 8×8 offers today a true no-compromise 8×8 amphibious APC.


Dimensions (approx.)

Seats: 1 + 12
Length: 7.92 m
Height (hull): 2.22 m
Overall Width: 2.72 m
Ground clearance: 0.45 m
Wheelbase: 2.30 m
Approach angle: 49°
Departure angle: 45°


Maximum speed (paved road): > 105 km/h
Maximum speed (in navigation): 10 km/h
Gradient: > 60 %
Side slope: > 30 %
Range on road (70 km/h): 800 km
Step: ≥ 0.6 m
Trench: ≥ 2 m
Fording depth: 1.5 m
Turning circle radius: 9 – 11 m
Power to weight ratio: > 21.5 hp/t

Weight / Volume / Payload (approx.)

Empty weight: 15 t
Payload (amphibious operation): 8 t
Payload (land operation): 10 t
Maximum GVW (amphibious operation): 23 t
Maximum GVW (land operation): 25 t
Internal volume: 14 m³


Engine: IVECO Cursor 13 6L turbocharged inter cooler
Fuel: Multifuel
Power: 368 – 412 kW (500÷560HP)
Torque: 2200 Nm
Gearbox: ZF 7HP902
Number of gears: 7 + 1 r

Driveline / suspension

Single-differential twin-shaft design
Hydro-pneumatic and independent
suspension Mc Pherson
Steering on 1st and 2nd axles
Transversal differential lock
Disengageable front axle


14.00R20 XML/XZL
Run-flat VFI system
Central Tyre Inflation System (CTIS)

Electric System

Full digital dashboard
Built-in Diagnostic System
>500A User Available Power


High hardness monocoque steel hull
Direct fire ballistic armour (base level)
A/T mines protection (base level)
Anti-mine seats
Fire Extinguishing/Anti-explosion system
in engine compartment
Anti-explosion / self-sealing fuel tanks
8×80 mm smoke grenade launchers

Amphibious Operation

Sea state >2
Hydraulic-powered independent
Front break water
Bilge Pumps


Rear Ramp
4th axle steering
12.00R20 XML/ XZL wheels
Height Management System
Hydraulic Winch
Automatic air conditioning system
NBC protection (collective with
individual backup)
Auxiliary heaters
Fire Extinguishing/Anti-explosion system
in Crew cabin
Laser Warning system
Direct fire ballistic armour (advanced level)
A/T mines protection (advanced level)
Specific IED protection suite
Active Protection System
All-round video cameras

January 15, 2012 10:02 pm

I assume that as we are talking about vehicle as cargo there won’t be a full tank of fuel, ammunition, etc.

January 15, 2012 10:27 pm


Good point. Especially for transport vehicles, flight weight will be substantially less than combat weight. More than a tonne of combat weight will be the dismounts with the equipment they carry.

January 15, 2012 10:52 pm

Well a quick flick through a copy of Janes’ I see a lot of these vehicles have fuel tanks with a capacity of about 500ltrs. If it was water that would be about half a tonne. Doesn’t sound a lot for a ship but it when it comes to air cargo it seems every pound/kilo counts.

January 15, 2012 11:16 pm


The SUPERAV is fully amphibious, and that’s why it is only 15 tons. It is the base of the joint submission BAE-IVECO for the US Marines Corps LAV replacement, which could also “replace” the cancelled EFV. It’ll be much slower in the water and less ambitious by far, but also infinitely less expensive. A case of “good enough” winning the day.

The Freccia, the 8×8 of the Italian Army, is a good 26 tons and sits in the class of the VBCI. Boxer overcomes the 30 tons of weight.

Brian Black
Brian Black
January 16, 2012 1:57 am

Or, to put it another way, Jed: A tracked vehicle of given dimensions is heavier than a wheeled vehicle of equivalent size.

January 16, 2012 10:03 am


I am not convinced by the Superav. In order to float, it has considerably less armour. So once it gets ashore, it may be too vulnerable. It weighs 15 tonnes versus the Freccia’s 25 tones.

Jed, BAE is flogging the RG41 hard as a new and cheaper FRES UV candidate. It has great mobility and protection, but overall, I think you are right. It is less good than Patria, VCBI, Freccia and Terrex. Apologies for giving the impression that i think we should adopt it. It merely shows what a good 8×8 drivetrain is capable of.

According to the German Defence attaché in London, a standard Boxer IS better protected than a standard Warrior. Theatre Entry Standard Warriors with upgraded armour are equivalent to Boxer but much, much heavier.

Having completely hijacked your mortar thread, based on where the discussion has gone, have your views on a 120 mm autoload and autolay mortar been reinforced or diluted?

(BTW, don’t apologise for disagreeing. You always have good reasons for saying whatever. Hugely respect your insights.)

January 16, 2012 10:56 am

Brian said “Or, to put it another way, Jed: A tracked vehicle of given dimensions is heavier than a wheeled vehicle of equivalent size.”

No it is armour that drive weight. A tracked APC like a M113 or FV432 is basically a simple box with an engine and simple (if robust) transmission. I should imagine the differentials and unsprung mass of 1 set of wheels would equal the entire weight of a typical APC transmission. Even traditional tracks aren’t inherently that heavy. I think being a civilian my mind associates tracks with those found on plant. And by extension the speeds that plant moves at and the way it moves around the landscape. An earthmover needs to be planted to apply power to its load. There is no need for sophisticate suspension either. While an APC needs to move itself at fair pace over terrain. It couldn’t do that with heavy tracks; heavy tracks mean more load on the engine and transmission. Hence this move to band tracks.

January 16, 2012 11:02 am

@ Monty re “thin armour”

You would be perfectly safe. And if things get a bit hairy just jump on the net to me back in the command bunker, 2000miles away, 150ft down, underneath 75ft of reinforced steel and concrete,protected by a sound air defence system, and I will whistle up some support for you. Even it ifs just a fresh brew from the NAAFI….

Rupert Fiennes
Rupert Fiennes
January 16, 2012 3:19 pm

@Brian Black, : for equivalent internal volume and armour protection, tracks are actually *lighter* than wheels. All that transmission and gearing to the wheels and all that. A pure electric drivetrain will of course reduce this disadvantage.

paul g
January 16, 2012 7:26 pm

sneaky off thread bit again how about the denel G6 155mm SPH, BAe make the chassis seperate, so could be possible to put AS90 turret onto the chassis, it should handle it weight with their turret on is 45t! the 52 barrel version is lobbing shell 67+kms

Rupert Fiennes
Rupert Fiennes
January 16, 2012 8:01 pm

@Gareth Jones : I am aware of AHED :-) And SEP!

I particularly liked the tracked option, which would seem to offer the best combination of tracks for mobility plus wheels ability to take a hit and still motor away, if slowly!

January 16, 2012 11:12 pm

Hi Jed,

We seem to have hypnotised ourselves, as for money not being there:
– for a given effect, this “If we had the money I would put SRAM on Viking and Warthog” would be the cheapest way to achieve it
– then you just control the logistics tail-end; it is not that those specialist vehicles would be all over the army/ RM, and they also need a “special” subpipe to keep them going (with the units they are normally allocated to)

January 17, 2012 12:20 am

Hi Jed,

First of all, these fantasies “the 16 AAB as it exists now would be replaced by “16 Commando Brigade (Army)” consisting of all 3 Para Battalions, 1 Rifles and 1 Royal Tank Regt manning all the Warthogs, which would provide the Brigade Armoured Support Group (as the Vikings are allocated to the Marines)”

Now, the confusion comes from introducing a new caliber (sorry, did not spell that out):
– those Warthogs, those Vikings (with the RM only)
– they both have specialist logistics trails
– as for 120mm, I believe the RM would share with the Dutch; if Warthogs (were to be) a para/ airmobile armour support element, then there would be quite a few special features to factor into that kind of (early) deployment. without it being an army-wide concern (about always having enough ready ammo, in the right place at the right time for the new caliber addition)

January 17, 2012 12:24 am

Heh-heh, I still managed not to say whether I agree or disagree
– I do (the former, that is)

Brian Black
Brian Black
January 17, 2012 12:07 pm

Considering things like the illegality of cargo munitions (raised by SO), the possibility of using guided 81mm rounds (Merlin was a different tech era – what was unachievable then is a whole lot easier and cheaper now), the logistics of handling larger bombs, the growth of killer UAVs, and the different modern battlefield scenarios; I wonder whether we are allowing ourselves to be seduced by 120mm systems that may have been a better tool back in Cold War days. Perhaps we should K.I.S.S. and stick to 81, dumb and cheap.

January 17, 2012 12:49 pm

@ Jed – “By the way, in my “Fantasy army” the 16 AAB as it exists now would be replaced by “16 Commando Brigade (Army)” consisting of all 3 Para Battalions, 1 Rifles and 1 Royal Tank Regt manning all the Warthogs, which would provide the Brigade Armoured Support Group (as the Vikings are allocated to the Marines).”

As ever, would like to see this turned into a post, with reference to James observation about the need to keep AAC inside to preserve a centre-of-excellence.

Dangerous Dave
Dangerous Dave
January 17, 2012 2:31 pm

@Brian: Since laser guided 81mm rounds are being developed and MMW radar guided rounds are a reality, “dumb and cheap” may not come into it anymore. From what I’ve seen on this thread, what we really need are *more 81mm tubes* assigned at the correct organisational level (Bttn. level according to Jed. And who am I to disagree?). Also, they need to be more mobile (but not necessarily protected mobility), maybe by utilising Quads as tractors, or mounting on Supacats? After all “modern 81mm has almost the range os 120mm of a decade ago” as I think someone said in this thread. So stick to what we have?

January 17, 2012 4:15 pm

“@ Jed – “By the way, in my “Fantasy army” the 16 AAB as it exists now would be replaced by “16 Commando Brigade (Army)” consisting of all 3 Para Battalions, 1 Rifles and 1 Royal Tank Regt manning all the Warthogs, which would provide the Brigade Armoured Support Group (as the Vikings are allocated to the Marines).”

As ever, would like to see this turned into a post, with reference to James observation about the need to keep AAC inside to preserve a centre-of-excellence.”


January 17, 2012 4:46 pm

I thought TD had promised us a 3Cdo / 16AAB post in his “Future of the British Army (and associated land elements of the RN and the other bunch)” series?

January 17, 2012 5:19 pm

Why 1 RTR?

And not to seem chippy, but the AAC arguments were mine, unless James has similar ideas.

Brian Black
Brian Black
January 18, 2012 3:26 pm

Some of the 120mm systems are certainly impressive; but with longer tubes and better ammo, the smaller tubes have had some useful range growth. And with all the guided options available, including down to 81mm bombs -and UAVs- I find myself swayed by the end users relative ease of handling a quantity of smaller bombs.
I have come round to the idea of a 105mm MGS UV -Patria AMV style. Royal Artillery rather than cavalry, and fewer than many here would like -a single battery per MRB instead of L118.

January 18, 2012 3:32 pm


I don’t think it matters that ‘if it looks like a tank it’ll be used like a tank’ for a breech loaded 120 mm mortar. We need to use whatever system provides the maximum utility for the user in terms of firepower, flexibility of ammunition types, accuracy, speed of engagement and protection for the crew.

That’s why BAE Systems’ 120 mm breech loader gets my vote.

The only thing that makes ‘fantasy army’ posts annoying is when they’re posted by people who have no technical knowledge or no military experience. Your posts are very well informed.

Brian Black
Brian Black
January 18, 2012 3:41 pm

And you’re right (and wrong), Jed. It’s not cargo rounds (or sub-munitions) that are illegal, it’s bomblets and dispensers – but you get the idea. And there will always be opportunities to innovate around legislation.

Think Defence
January 18, 2012 3:43 pm
Reply to  Monty

The interesting point for me is whether a 60/120mm mortar combination, with the 120 being mobile by wheels/tracks, would be an effective replacement for 81mm. I wonder how that would effect logistics, arguably the major advantage of the 81mm. If we are using more propellant for 60mm to deliver x effect than will we not in proportion, be costing us weight and volume. A fascinating point that is probably worthy of some very serious study.

Is 81mm one of those evergreen concepts that refuses to go or has its time come, has 60mm advanced to a point where it can offer 2/3rds the capability for half the weight and therefore Ok for the majoruty of organic fire support, leaving the 120mm to slug it out with 105mm light guns.

Perhaps one way to look at this is for a given spread of missions does the 60/81/105/155 offer anything that is worse in effects, logistics and costs than a 60/120/155 combination, or other combinations like 60/81/105/120/155 or even 60/120/105/155 (the variations are endless aren’t they)

I am also not convinced by the ‘if it looks like a tank it will be used like a tank’ argument although do have nagging doubts, should that stop us from innovating though?

Maybe that’s why I suggested a 90 or 105mm rather than a low pressure 120mm. The CMI CT-CV and the new gucci 105 from Denel is also interesting because they put 105mm guns in a high elevation turret, thus giving them both direct and indirect roles

January 18, 2012 3:44 pm

“JBT / Monty – I thought people were fed up of “fantasy army” posts?”

It doesn’t seem to be a fantasy post at all, you make a cogent argument that 16AAB cannot ever function as intended by its given structure and role. Therefore it makes sense to change the role, and in consequence, reform the structure to fit (properly this time).

That said, James (i think – might have been Phil) has made a persuasive argument that having the AAC units roled and structured alongside the land units creates and preserves a centre-of-excellenece.

I just want to see it thrashed out, to see whether one or the other is significantly correct, or whether there is a sensible compromise to be made, and what the resulting brigade will look like.

Seems like a very worthwhile TD topic to me. :)

January 18, 2012 9:54 pm

@ Jed – “I we don’t need a whole “Brigade” to keep a centre of excellence for air mobile helicopter operations (IMHO and all that).”

Fine, I do accept that, but I also see an absolute requirement for a light role brigade to partner with 3Cdo in sharing the intervention duties.

Does that make sense to you, and if so, how would you reconcile it with a light commando function allied to the AAC?

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
January 18, 2012 10:19 pm

@ Jed – both post ideas sound interesting.

paul g
January 18, 2012 10:27 pm

I do remember a couple of things from time at 16AAB Whenever you did some work at Bde HQ someone would always bring up the fact that the AAC munched a lot of the bde budget, (i couldn’t say if this problem has been resolved) This backs up adds to the arguement for a separate rotary brigade with it’s own budget and role, ie to support whoever is playing soldiers at the time.

If this had happened then the AAC units could’ve been placed in abingdon, nice central location and near to main road network (A34)not watta-sham! back end of nowhere with approach road just big enough for L/R’s!
Anyhoo back to bangy things if you give the artillery 105mm then would you also give them the ATGW missile that goes with it, or does that risk them being classed as a light tank?
With the inf getting smacked perhaps (or should i say i would like) to see less 40mm warrior conversions and a small percentage turned into 120mm turreted mortars. More chance of platting snot mind!

January 18, 2012 10:48 pm

I’d say 16 Air Assault Brigade is full of problems. Not enough C130 available to validate the parachute part of training for the Airborne Task Force on High Alert in November, for example.
Not realistic chances of deploying the airborne task force with parachute either.
Dependency on a force of just 13 teams, supplied by the RAF, to direct Landing Zones ops.
Lack of helicopter-capable air refuelers and several other issues, all the way up to the recent, ultimate loss of their AD battery.

Ultimately, the end result is that PARA are expensive light infantry and the mighty brigade only does deploy 8/10 CHinook, 8 Apaches and a few Lynx at a time.

I’d gladly see it re-organized into Combined Regiments, each with LZ control parties, TSW team, REME squadron, Apache Sqn, Wildcat sqn and Chinook squadron, with a single Air Assault battalion per each regiment.
The regiments would be five, self-contained, and could be (in theory) deployed together to work at brigade level, or more realistically be attached to an MRB in the field to reinforce it with helicopters and a powerful maneuver element dedicated for vertical ops.

1RTR could still supply three squadrons worth of personnel to use for forming a support formation with Warthogs.
A sqn 1RTR is going to stay busy with training and demonstration, but the rest of the regiment could be saved from oblivion and given a new, relevant role this way.

paul g
January 18, 2012 11:08 pm

Still in the wrong place though!! If look at on the map helos in hampshire, suffolk inf in kent,essex, recce in berkshire and other minor units all over the place. Why they moved the paras out of aldershot is a mystery, they used farnbough for emplaning, about 1 mile away. Wattisham is miles away oh and they don’t use it, in 5 years i saw 2 hercs use the runway, oh and newcastle utd when they came to play ipswich!
I could go on but this the mortar thread so yeah 120mm, panzerfaust and chally with double GV and 165mm demo gun!!

paul g
January 18, 2012 11:12 pm

oh and ref RTR yes i’m repeating myself but if the US were prepared to give 100 AAV-7’s to greece have a word in their shell like remind how many times greece has deployed with them and then have a sqn or 3 based at bovington to be commando armour putting and covering the blokes ashore, so what if it means we go to 83,000 instead of 82,000. stop giving child benefit after the 2nd child should cover it.

January 19, 2012 8:36 am

Hi TD,

Is there a new one, as in ” The CMI CT-CV and the new gucci 105 from Denel”?
– if you refer to the low-pressure one that the Thais use on their Stingrays and Ascods, then isn’t the CT-CV both much newer and much more Gucci? Does pretty much all jobs like the cancelled American 105mm, but without extensive development of new rounds (no 155 substitute though as it doesn’t match the range)

January 19, 2012 8:47 am

Hi Jed,

Isn’t this ” My point is always that 16AAB is a European contintental schwerpunkt type formation, and has never been deployed with its full compliment of helos (basically the whole of Support Helicopter Command plus all the Apaches) to provide the full “mass”” sticking too much with how the formation evolved into what it is now.

If you deploy somewhere even more expansive and with even less roads than A-stan, being able to rotate airmobile bns as part of bde rotation (someone will now jump in with: no more COIN, ever!)will be invaluable. And we don’t have the extensive wheeled armour fleet like e.g.S Africa does, so flying tanks are a good substitute (and won’t be needed in huge numbers)
– the Dutch also have gone into an expeditionary posture with their forces, and ditched the tanks but kept the Apaches

January 19, 2012 3:09 pm

i like it, follows my own thinking very closely.

curious about this:

“both Cdo brigades as a whole provide the “Special Forces Support Group” – as in highly traine, dare I say it, “elite” light infantry who can support the SF as required.”

as i’m quite happy to keep the SFSG given the following statement:

“The SFSG was initially composed of personnel from the British Army’s Parachute Regiment, the Royal Marines and the RAF Regiment, but is now open to all personnel in the United Kingdom’s Armed Forces that have passed either P company run by the Parachute Regiment or the Royal Marines Commando Course”

given that SFSG does not appear to depend on 1 Para in quite the way it used to.

is that the reason you suggest:

“probably making some lucrative extended service contracts for RM and Para NCO’s about to leave the service”

to keep this as a separate formation using more retained personnel?

thank you Jed.

been bugging me for a long time, look forward to the main article.

January 19, 2012 3:11 pm

“You mention rotation of airmobile battalions – so I presume this is going to be a medium to long term “enduring” operation – so exactly how many out of the total of Chinook, Lynx 9A and Apache being made available at any one time ? Enough to cart about the “whole” battalion ? So why can’t we just use the “76th Blackpudding Infantry (Lancashires Own)” and ensure that their pre-deployment training includes learning the ropes of operating with helicopters”

this would rather fit with a four MRB setup post 2015 on a 3:1 roulement given the number of AAC regiments………..?

January 19, 2012 6:54 pm

How would that work with the chinooks jedi, seen as the aren’t in the aac?

January 19, 2012 10:42 pm

For once I agree with Jed. 16 AAB in its present form is dysfunctional. The air assets are not co-located with the brigade because they are needed for other general support and re-supply tasks for the other non-airborne brigades. To have truly effective air assault (FFS why can’t we call it an airborne brigade – because that’s what it is) we probably need to buy an additional 50-100 Blackhawk or equivalent helicopters. IMHO only this level of capability would be sufficient to rapidly deliver the required volume of men and supporting elements quickly enough to achieve a shock effect. Short of world war three, this ain’t gonna happen.

We debated elsewhere whether the UK would ever conduct another combat parachute drop. I think it is unlikely. We just don’t have the aircraft to perform a brigade-size op. Besides, helicopters, although vulnerable, are much more surgical than scattering paratroopers over a two kilometres drop zone which then requires them to re-group before they can execute their primary task. We might legitimately drop a battalion-size group to capture a bridge or seize some other key strategic target, but I would prefer to do it with helicopters or to boldly land a C-130 on a nearby stretch of road or runway as the israeli’s did at Entebbe.

(We definitely need to retain parachute trained soldiers for HALO and HAHO missions where small groups need to be inserted covertly, but this is a specialist requirement not mainstream capability.)

I would like to see 16 AAB become a truly helicopter-borne formation with four battalions of infantry (three heli-borne and one mounted in Foxhounds), supported by a regiment of wheeled tank destroyers, and a regiment of wheeled artillery / mortars.

3 Commando brigade could become an identical type of light brigade, with the same structure, but seaborne with Warthogs instead of Foxhounds.

(For reasons of historic rivalries, it probably makes sense to retain the titles Commando and Airborne rather than just adopting the former, Jed.)

I think these light brigades would prefer 120 mm mortars mounted in Warthogs to towed 105 mm guns.

I certainly believe that 120 mm can replace 81 mm, precisely because 60 mm has become so effective.

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
January 19, 2012 11:04 pm

@ Monty – “supported by a regiment of wheeled tank destroyers, and a regiment of wheeled artillery / mortars.” – are we talking about the 15 -35t vehicles we covered above? What helicopters do we have to move them?

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
January 19, 2012 11:17 pm

Does it make sense to assign battalions to specific roles? Wouldn’t a “pool” of multi-role light infantry battalions capable of being carried by helicopters, APC/IFV, Warthog, landingcraft, etc?

January 19, 2012 11:20 pm

Different roles need different organisations, manning increments and posts and training. We’d be back to the arms plot, a big step backwards.

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
January 20, 2012 12:40 am

@ Jed – I was thinking all the army’s infantry battalions would be in the “pool” – except possibly armoured infantry to support the Armoured battalions.

Possibly their “default setting” would be Foxhound, with the 8 man section broken down in to 6 passengers, driver and “shotgun” (would need to train at least one driver per section), but anle to leave the 4×4 behind to be “cargo” in Warthogs, helicopters, etc.

Think Defence
January 20, 2012 4:15 am
Reply to  Jed

Jed, what does ‘goofy’ mean

is it a Canadian thing :)

January 20, 2012 6:46 am

Hi Jed,

You asked me a question, but by the time I’m back at my PC you have answered it yourself:
“any sqauddie can be “air mobile” but not just any unit can be used for complex “air mobile” operations”
– hence my comment of attaching/rotating such battalions (while recognising that the sum total of helo assets, and the demands placed on them by other units, will make a brigade-level airmobile operation an unlikely occurrence)

January 20, 2012 9:58 am

@ Topman – “How would that work with the chinooks jedi, seen as the aren’t in the aac?”

Not sure i understand the question, as i’m not sure what it is referenced against……….

January 20, 2012 10:18 am

Sorry it was referenced against your look into force numbers for MRBs and their need for helicopters. You asked about the reference to 3/1 for deployment by aac regiments. However the main lift would come from chinnok which isn’t in the aac. I just wondered how the deployment of them would work since I thought you had ‘missed’ it. Sorry if I didn’t make myself clear earlier.

January 20, 2012 12:09 pm

Gareth Jones,

I don’t think it is realistic to expect to move wheeled tank destroyers and mortar/ artillery vehicles by helicopter. Vehicle units would travel on the ground to link up with airborne ones.

I think battalions would need some kind of integral heavy weapon. In this case, Warthogs or RG35s might fit the bill. That said, given that 30 tonnes is the new currency of medium armour, I expect that the USA will develop a heavy lift helicopter capable of transporting such a vehicle.


Your logic is persuasive and well-founded, but while I have personal objection to the term Commando, I think 1,500 hairy-ar**d paras would! It’s an emotional thing.

January 20, 2012 12:38 pm

@ Topman – “Sorry it was referenced against your look into force numbers for MRBs and their need for helicopters. You asked about the reference to 3/1 for deployment by aac regiments. However the main lift would come from chinnok which isn’t in the aac.”

Sorry, only referring to havigna similar number of similar AAC regiments as we do MRB’s, in order that persistent operations can have access to army air assets on a regular and rotating basis, just as they do with army ground units.

February 2, 2012 6:56 pm
Pete Arundel
Pete Arundel
February 21, 2012 5:50 pm

Just resurrecting this thread to see if anyone has seen the Bae M326 mortar thingy

Looks quite useful – imagine how much ammo you could carry on a supacat HMT equipped with one of these.

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
February 21, 2012 6:31 pm

@ Pete – looks very interesting. I think it can be put on a trailer as well:

June 21, 2012 4:00 pm

I would be tempted to go for the STK SRAMS 120mm mortar as the standard issue mortar for Battalion level. For the use in the air-portable role, I would put them on either the STK Spider Light Strike Vehicle, which is ready now, or alternatively on something like the Supacat ATMP. Each mortar team would use two vehicles, with the first one carrying just the mortar (and possibly an ammo trailer if its the ATMP), and the second carrying two pallets (one on board, one towed). The vehicles should still be Chinook portable as a pair, or under a Merlin one at a time.

The Royal Marines would put the SRAMS in a Viking, to give them high mobility. For the Mechanised and Armoured Infantry units, they would go in something like Mastiff (until/if something like Piranha V comes into service) and Warrior/ASCOD. This way, there would just be a single 120mm mortar type in service, with only the particular mounting differing.

As for the 60mm, I would aim to use them at Platoon level in Commando Mortar form, and at Company level in the form of the long range 60mm. This would be particularly useful at Company level, because, as discussed in the article, the newer rounds have good range and lethality, yet are very lightweight. This would make it entirely possible for foot-borne troops to carry a long range mortar, and plenty of ammunition.

Like the Stryker Battalion, ideally I would aim to have a pair of the heavy 120mm mortars attached to each Rifle Company, with the long range 60mm slung in the back just in case. There would then be a Platoon with about eight of them at Battalion level, backed up with matching ammunition carriers. These latter ones might want to have an 81mm mortar slung in the back, as with the Strykers, or you could just give them the same LR 60mm mortars.

September 4, 2013 6:40 pm

Firstly, I would like to say hi to everyone, since it’s my first comment here.
Secondly, I would like to point out the fact that while in article 60mm mortars are geting a lot of praising, it’s worth mentioning that they also have some disadvantages. One of them is low penetrating power. As Israelis (IDF) find out during Lebanon campaign, 60mm mortar shells were unable to penetrate typical roofs and had to employ larger mortars to do job. And if we consider using longer (or variable length) barrel 60mm mortars and buying 120mm to replace 81mm, then it might be a good idea (cost/effective) to leave alone L16 81mm mortars and purchase (or develop) longer barrel 81mm mortar as a supplement. It should have same range as 120mm. IIRC denel already offers long barrel 81mm mortar.

Sorry for my bad english gents, I’m still learning ;)

Swimming Trunks
Swimming Trunks
September 4, 2013 8:46 pm

P.S. your English is better than mine!