81mm Precision Mortars

Jed produced a fantastic post a week or two ago on the range of mortar options available and how they might be used.

Click here to read it.

This bit of news popped into the newsreader this afternoon

81mm precision
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General Dynamics and BAE Systems have demonstrated a precision guided 81mm mortar round, or should that be bomb!

The question I think of when I see this (followed by the inevitable clamour to buy some) is this…

Does adding cost and complexity disrupt the fundamental characteristics of mortars,namely; simplicity, low cost, ease of use and immediacy?

Anyone care to answer?



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Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
February 21, 2012 7:07 pm

Mr fred beat you to it on the mortars thread:

“I’ll just put this here. Seems relevant.

Upgrading the ammo rather than replacing the gun (or tube in this case) would appear to be a wiser, and cheaper, option generally. The tube can then fire “Dumb” or “Smart” rounds depending on the target, situation, etc.

February 21, 2012 8:23 pm

About a decade ago I saw a list of smart mortar bomb projects, with info on country of origin, guidance principle etc etc. Those were about two dozen projects, mostly about 120mm and few about 81 mm IIRC. The few much-publicized U.S. and Swedish projects were not representative of the sector at all.
Very few of those projects appear to have made it into service.

February 21, 2012 8:25 pm


Get an ammo mix and match on the go. Dumb rounds to start, smart rounds for pinned down targets.

February 22, 2012 1:48 am

Bloody typical eh – i suggest 120mm, one reason being more precision guidance options, and BAe announce this…….. :-)

I agree with comments that just like gun / howitzer artillery, the mortar can have the best of both worlds – cheap rounds for area targets and times when collatoral damage doesn’t matter, and precision rounds with varied price points and CEP’s for when they are needed.

Still have a bias for 60mm at the light end and 120mm at the heavy!

February 22, 2012 5:57 am

RE “simplicity, low cost, ease of use and immediacy?”
– just about every comment has found that mixing the use of rounds is ideal (the alternative would be several different kinds of weapons, in a unit at a low level, which is hardly practical)

Just to comment on Sven’s: STRIX made it into mass use both in Sweden and in Switzerland
– but it was dedicated for one purpose: countering massed armour (both countries maintained a big fleet of the best anti-armour weapons – tanks – but they can’t be everywhere, all the time)
– interestingly, now that Swedish threat scenarios don’t emphasize massed armour threats so much anymore, the number of heavy mortar tubes per formation has been halved

February 22, 2012 7:37 am

@ Jed

You’ve still got the “larger warhead” argument in your favour mate. Don’t give up now.

February 22, 2012 7:58 am

Two more factors:
– all the clever bits are expensive, and also eat into the payload (HE plus metal around it), so that goes with the “larger warhead” argument

The one against is that when NOT in PG mode, the fragmentation effect from, say, a tonne of 120mm rounds is less than half of the same weight of 81mm rounds landing onto the same grid

February 22, 2012 11:33 am

Bigger calibres come into their own if you use them for cargo rounds or if you need to demolish structures (/create craters).

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
February 22, 2012 11:47 am

Posting some links from end of Mortars thread. First one is Pete Arundel’s:



February 25, 2012 4:18 am

To answer the question posed – Yes.

Mors, particularly 81mm are short range, this means their dispersion is already small despite their lengthy time of flight (eg more time for wind to act on them). I’d take ‘average miss distance of 7 metres’ to mean a CEP of 7 metres, not notably brilliant accuracy wise for a guided weapon so its a bit difficult to work out what they are for. It’s not clear whether the guidance arrangements are entirely internal (ie GPS based) or rely on some form of target marking.

IIRC in the 80s BAe developed a 120mm anti-armour mortar projectile that relied on laser designation.