60mm Mortar

In 2013 Janes reported that the Hirtenberger 60mm mortar purchased under an Urgent Operational Requirement would only be retained for RM/PARA use and the rest would be withdrawn. (read the Hirtenberger datasheet here)

A picture last week from the MoD shows one in action during a training exercise

A paratrooper from A Company, 3rd Battalion Parachute Regiment (3 PARA) firing a 60mm mortar on Otterburn ranges in Northumberland. Paratroopers competed against each other to be the best, while celebrating one of The Parachute Regiment's heroes. The McKay VC Competition saw sections from 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment (3 PARA) put through paces around the arduous terrain of the Otterburn Ranges in Northumbria. The contest saw troops in full battle rig take part in a 15km night navigation exercise including stands testing their signalling, medical and parachute packing skills; an assault course; and live fire section attacks. The competition honours the memory of Sergeant Ian McKay, who was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross for his "outstanding selflessness, perseverance and courage" during the Falklands War in 1982. Sgt McKay VC was killed during the assault on Mount Longdon when he attacked an Argentine position alone and under heavy fire.
A paratrooper from A Company, 3rd Battalion Parachute Regiment (3 PARA) firing a 60mm mortar on Otterburn ranges in Northumberland.

They look quite large, and heavy.

Compare to the old 51mm (2″) mortar.

51mm Mortar
51mm Mortar

The French/German Fly-K system (Lance Grenade Individuel in French service) always looked a more natural replacement, now we are best friends with the French perhaps they will let us try some of their Fly-K’s as well as artillery and armoured vehicles?

Did we include the Fly-K in evaluation for the 60mm?

Would be interesting to see the trade off’s and a comparison between the 40mm UGL, Fly-K, the 60mm and even (whisper it) rifle grenades!

60mm is a standard calibre and in widespread use so there are plenty of natures available, the Fly-K on the other hand is only in use with France and the UAE. The protection module looks interesting and the visual and acoustic signature is very low.

Anyway, a few bits of media…

[tabs] [tab title=”LGI Video”]

[/tab] [tab title = “LGI 1”]

Fly_K

[/tab] [tab title = “Fly-K Protection Module”]

Fly-K Protection Module

[/tab] [tab title = “LGI 2”]

Fly-K_1_beschn_kl

[/tab] [tab title = “Fly-K 3”]

Horizontal

[/tab] [tab title = “Fly-K 5”]

LGI_entrainement

[/tab] [/tabs]

 

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Tenor
Tenor
December 16, 2014 11:07 pm

The 60mm replaces the 51mm because it’s the same role concept. The UGL fills below that for lighter things. The 60mm is way superior to the French one anyway. No point in adding something new when we already have the better of two worlds.

Besides, we’re giving away enough money to France as it is in this supposed “joint” thing. I’m more interested in when they intend to buy anything from us.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
December 16, 2014 11:40 pm

Is there an illum round for use in the 40mm underslung?

Randomer
Randomer
December 16, 2014 11:59 pm

They do exist in both visible and IR variants but I don’t know if we bothered buying any.

Obsvr
Obsvr
December 17, 2014 1:37 am

The problem is that a footborne inf platoon will need a couple more men to carry a 60mm and a couple of dozen bombs (which isn’t very much if there is a choice of ammo). Distributing lots of bombs around the platoon makes it difficult to recover them when you need them and the sections are already carrying anti-tank missiles.

XBradTC
XBradTC
December 17, 2014 2:11 am

The US has been pretty happy using 40mm grenade launchers at the platoon/squad level, and 60mm mortars at the company for its light infantry formations.

monkey
monkey
December 17, 2014 5:41 am

The 60mm has more than double the range and almost double the bang but I like the French unit for its quite,flashless,smokless operation. A hand held mortar operator trying to get their eye in on a specific target area is going to attract a lot of attention so advertising your location cannot be healthy.Could we adopt a 60mm version of this or is it as big as it will go?

BV Buster
BV Buster
December 17, 2014 10:05 am

I don’t think the 60mm will only just be for the Paras, I recently spent a week on ranges with this little badger after a few lads in the Sqn “done’t’course ” (In my best Yorkshire accent). On the other hand, I could have just wasted a week of my life.

40mm is filling the gap of 51mm, no need for illum as a 1000m schermuly (sp?) does the job nicely . Does anyone have any info on UGL firing high velocity 40mm a la GMG flavor?

BV

The Other Chris
December 17, 2014 10:15 am

The majority of the L85A2 post-Afghan refresh and refurb photo’s (the ones highlighting the purchase of standard issue suppressors) have the 40mm UGL’s fitted to the new Picatinny rail.

Also note the combined foregrip/bipod on the L86A2, which has also appeared on the odd L85A2 flikr snap as well.

Observer
Observer
December 17, 2014 12:48 pm

BV, think all MV rounds can be used on LV launchers. It’s the HV that is a no-no. On the other hand, MV is “close enough”. And “close enough” counts when it comes to explosives. :P

ACC 40mm LV illum rounds are usually called White Star Parachute.

mr.fred
mr.fred
December 17, 2014 5:29 pm

Inspired by those rather good and thought-provoking pieces from RUSI, I went looking for more and found…
This:
https://www.rusi.org/go.php?structureID=issues_defence&ref=A542D82033A115#.VJG7asa6dqg

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
December 17, 2014 6:08 pm

From the piece linked by mr. Fred

” A response to the ever-increasing weight of mandatory equipment carried on patrol during Operation Herrick, it is coupled with an understanding that unit logistics elements will shoulder an increased role in retaining and transporting equipment and supplies a tactical bound behind their combat units in the field, and the quick redistribution of those stores as required.”

Leaving A-stan specifics behind, the unit logistics first and foremost is the protected mobility vehicle of the squad, with enough volume built in?

Phil
December 17, 2014 6:19 pm

The whole making soldiers lighter is always going to juxtaposed with the “why wasn’t my dead son allow to wear Osprey?” headlines. That’s the drama.

The weight being carried in Afghan was mostly necessary – without it we’d have suffered far higher fatalities and injuries. But you didn’t always need everything all the time. But it takes courage from the chain of command to do that and drop PPE – it therefore helps to have those decisions supported by embedded doctrine and accepted, risk managed practice in order to give that commander some top-cover when he decides his blokes only need ECBA for this op.

S O
S O
December 17, 2014 8:41 pm

“The French/German Fly-K system”

I think the origin was in Belgium, then adopted and manufactured in France and now IIRC Rheinmetall merely offers it as well (omitting the info that the system is 3 or 4 decades old).

I intend(ed) to write a bit about the 82 mm equivalent from Russia that’s been unveiled two years ago.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
December 17, 2014 8:56 pm

S O, pls do… A most interesting topic!

Swimming Trunks
Swimming Trunks
December 17, 2014 10:24 pm
Swimming Trunks
Swimming Trunks
December 18, 2014 12:07 am

Talking about mortars…

End of 81mm?

http://www.angelfire.com/art/enchanter/98mm.html

Obsvr
Obsvr
December 18, 2014 1:02 am

81mm is of course the NATO standard. It is also an infantry weapon, which has certain implications. Eg a large casualty radius may be a hindrance because it may mean the fire cannot be as close to own troops as might be required, and there is little point in having range greater than a battalion area in higher intensity or a company area in lower intensity operations.

WW
WW
December 18, 2014 10:29 am

@SO

Indeed, the ENERGA anti-tank rifle grenade.
The original 1950’s design was from a company in Liechtenstein, but later manufactured and sold by Belgian company MECAR. The Fly-K systems look very similar.

Observer
Observer
December 18, 2014 3:48 pm

Phil, how effective IS body armour against rifle rounds? Will someone hit in the chest still be combat capable? Or is it a “he’s down for the count but we can piece him back together later”?

Phil
December 18, 2014 7:21 pm

The plates we had could take a round. I think it depends on how nails the bloke getting shot is when it comes to still being able to fight after taking a round. Most people will be very tender and bruised and you might be looking at a few broken ribs. On HERRICK 8 I treated a Warrior commander who took an RPG to his Osprey as he stood out of the hatch, it bounced off and exploded behind him. Other than now being full of metal he was fine and chatty!

I’ve got a video of a lad who took an AP round on a compound roof coming down the ladder under his own power. So he was able bodied but he definitely wasn’t feeling himself. But then he was sniped and not shot in the heat of battle. The round had actually tracked around the plate inside the lining and ended up embedded in the Osprey round his back. It left a nasty gouge around his chest under his axilla but didn’t penetrate his chest wall – it was VERY tender though and he was in a lot of pain. He got some fentanyl for that and swore blind it was shit and wasn’t working as he giggled and waved at the OC.

The main danger when the plates stop a round is blast lung where the force of the impact causes contusions in the lung and a few hours later you start to go down hill very rapidly and often die. But that’s rare.

BV Buster
BV Buster
December 18, 2014 8:29 pm

I Remember during a brief before H12 a chunky chappy from the skillies enthusiastically (as they all do) informing us that The Ospray plate can “Take multiple strikes EVEN at the edges”. A young trooper shouted out that if someone managed to get shot three times in the chest during one contact maybe he deserved a free flight to Bastion. Now, my point being (aimed at Phil) how many times have lads been shot multiple times in one plate?

Back on topic, was the Russian choice of caliber directly influenced by the German 81mm, or is that an old wives tale/wrong weapon/wrong time frame/BV was drunk at a dinner party once and butted in half way through a conversation about allen keys and assumed they were talking about mortars?

BV

Phil
December 18, 2014 8:40 pm

@BV Buster

No idea how many have! I think there’s been a few. Depends on the range doesn’t it – at the longer ranges you might just get the wind knocked out of you and the round is more likely to be deflected rather than taking the hit full on.

BV Buster
BV Buster
December 18, 2014 9:37 pm

@ Phil

Good point, what do you class as a “strike”, I wish I asked questions. Well girls and boys the moral of the story is: When asked “Is there any questions?” Don’t look the fellow in the eyes with an all informed and satisfied look on your face while slowly shaking your head when you are actually thinking what variety of jam you are going to have with your tea and toast. Ask those questions people.

BV

S O
S O
December 19, 2014 1:42 am
ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
December 19, 2014 7:40 am

S O, a fascinating read and could not agree more with the future potential, as in

“The “silent” 82 mm mortar (round) would defeat a multitude of means of detection as well:
(1) the hearing sense of hostile troops
(2) acoustic triangulation systems***
(3) flash-spotting by hostile troops
(4) flash-spotting by aerial or high vantage point sensors
All commando mortars have such a short range and low trajectory that detection by counter-mortar radars is most unlikely in warfare between armies.
___________

Medium and heavy mortars may be in a survivability crisis,”

Whereas heavy mortars may have been in a survival crisis (the suppression effect through splintering, per ton of bombs expended being much worse than with the mediums, leaving only the range advantage), the requirements of urban combat have changed that. The precision guided mortar bomb development getting the final touches and introduction to service is a much less appreciated story about urgency driving results than the story about AMRAPs. The latter was relevant for armies on both sides of the Atlantic, whereas serious urban combat and its requirements for precision and non-line of sight even over short distances only came to the fore for the US army.

Obsvr
Obsvr
December 19, 2014 12:07 pm

H’mmm

1. Flash spotting against mortars never seems to have been notably successfull (and in general FS was abandoned in the 1950s).
2. Sound ranging against mortars requires a fairly specialised system, not the general purpose arty SR one. Ie the introduction in 1944 of the UK short base to deal with the very serious GE mortar threat, did not survive the 1950s.
3. If the bomb goes high enough a WLR will locate the mortar – mortars have near parabolic trajectories and nice RF reflecting fins, which enable very simple and accurate processing.

S O
S O
December 19, 2014 12:26 pm

,
remember the context is commando/light mortars, very short range ones.

# 1; muzzle flash-based sniper detection systems and at night the naked eye as well as NVGs (able to spot the muzzle flash reflections from walls etc.) are the relevant flash spotting in this context
# 2; similar to point 1, low tech is relevant here. Remember, mortar bombs are subsonic and thus allow you to dive for cover or run away in time if you hear the muzzle bang. Silent mortar HE fire could even be mistaken for hand grenade attack, and actual hand grenade attacks could be mistaken for silent mortar harassing fires (after desensitizing fires).
# 3; the reflective fins are probably a myth, since they don’t have a 90° angle ever. Counter-mortar radars scan the horizon for detection, but even electronically phased antennas have a moderate probability of detecting a mortar bomb very close to the horizon and thus close to ground clutter. Radar tech in general rarely works as advertised.
The case of a counter mortar radar supporting troops in contact nearby is a special exception in occupation war outpost defence. The proximity of such a radar is a rare exception in most other cases. These radars are few, and employed to deal with indirect fire of much longer-ranged (higher apex) mortars.
Furthermore, commando mortars are mobile, never bunched up and a poor target for a typical counterstrike after 1-3 minutes. Artillery won’t be tasked with this in army-on-army conflict, and mortars – even if networked well – would be busy supporting in the ongoing fight with illum, smoke and HE already.

@ArmChairCivvy;
heavy mortars suffered as a category from the cluster munitions ban, since all their ICM/DPICM munitions are banned now in most countries. Medium mortars never really made use of such munitions and are often more efficient for Illum as well.
Mortar PGMs have been under development since the late 70’s, with a zenith around 2000 with more than 40 parallel mortar PGM developments (mostly 120 mm). They keep being rather irrelevant in numbers.

Observer
Observer
December 19, 2014 1:24 pm

Phil, BV, reason I’m asking about the armour is the potential for the “next step” of the defence/firepower race. If many (possibly opposing) armies are kitting up with armour, the individual infantryman’s weapon might have to be redesigned to cope against it. The old SS109 round was touted to be “armour piercing” but looks like armour designers added more to one up it.

Wonder if we would end up going back to the battle rifle.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
December 19, 2014 2:27 pm

@S O, agree with the rest, but you can’t do ” a Fallujah” every time with conventional rounds. It was a small place, after all, put tge case against Stalingrad and trying to dislodge a dug-in opponent?

There has been a learning curve; the numbers available to be fielded would be an interesting read. Other than that, and breach loading mortars on wheels for shoot-and-scoot, I would tend to agree with the trend.

S O
S O
December 19, 2014 3:50 pm

“trying to dislodge a dug-in opponent?”

Not with indirect fire.
There is plenty infantry can do to assault successfully in a settlement. Even fire support by tanks can be substituted for with crew-portable weapons.

Observer
Observer
December 19, 2014 4:04 pm

Yeah SO, but unfortunately crew portable weapons are not that common in an army. Yes they are there. But they can’t be everywhere unfortunately.

Besides, mortars are good for things like trenches and firing pits, but if something has overhead cover, like a building or bunker, it’s less useful. You’ll need Anti-Structure Munitions for things like that, direct fire into openings or doors. And IIRC, every 3rd man in a squad/section should be armed with a LAW or something similar. Much more common than crew served weapons.

Kent
Kent
December 19, 2014 4:17 pm

@Observer – This is video of a US Army medic being shot from the point of view of the “insurgent” sniper. The rifle used was a 7.62x54R SVD “Dragunov” (or Iraqi clone) at relatively close range. The van concealing the shooters was in a parking lot across the street!. Absolutely terrifying…from the insurgent point of view.

monkey
monkey
December 19, 2014 5:02 pm

@Kent
It needs a sound track ” I get knocked down but I get up again”

Observer
Observer
December 19, 2014 8:11 pm

Kent, interesting and highlights one of the problems I can see an army facing in the future. If any enemy you shoot can get up again, or worse, just stay down and return fire, life is going to get a bit more interesting. You don’t ever want to be in CQB and shoot someone and not put him down first or second shot, because in the next few seconds, it might be you on the receiving end, and you might not be so lucky. Not a scenario I find ideal.

We might need a two pronged approach to the trend, one: to get our men armoured up, and two: to get weapons and/or tactics that can counter a similar approach. But 7.62×54 resistance is very impressive. Going to be hard to bypass that.

Pretty chatty for a hit squad, not to mention there seems to be a lack of prior planning.

S O
S O
December 19, 2014 8:55 pm

American NIJ level IV and German SK IV were specified to resist 7.62 mm long AP cartridges. Multi-hit resistance is unpredictable due to brittleness (cracking) of the plates. The blunt trauma (including possibly broken ribs or broken spine) is allowed to have up to 20 mm depth IIRC.
7.62 long SLAP can penetrate such plates at least on vertical impacts.

The bulletproofing against 7.62 long has such a high area density that only a small area can be protected. It’s easier to carry enough 5.56 to exploit all the soft areas than to carry 7.62 long SLAP or something like .338 to penetrate the small hardened areas.
All non-EOD body armour is usually unsatisfactory against blast, only a handful non-EOD soft armour suits protect more than only the torso, skull and eyes against fragments. 80-90% anti-frag protection is too heavy for most purposes already.

Observer
Observer
December 20, 2014 2:29 pm

SO, yes, but the terrain we plan for is fairly closed, anything involving blast and fragmentation is really risky as the chance that your own people are close is fairly high. Case in point, one of my friends shot a 40mm LV TP round during training. It hit a tree branch and catapulted the round back at him. He only got an orange helmet out of the oopsie, he was already down in a firing trench. The instructor standing outside the trench wasn’t so lucky, he got an orange uniform.

Closed terrain, use of explosives is seriously conditional.

Obsvr
Obsvr
December 21, 2014 7:59 am

@SO

seeing a flash and being able to fix its position are two entirely different things. You can determine the bearing to a flash but you can’t determine the range without at least one bearing from another source. Accurately judging distance to a flash is not what I would call a common skill.

Adopting a protective posture on hearing a mortar fire could keep you busy. The problem is knowing whether or not you are the target.

Having run a mortar locating radar unit and conducted the occasional unofficial experiments on firing ranges that allowed a bit of flexibility, I’m reasonably confident that the fins do enhance the reflected signal, but would agree that fin configuration could be an issue. And as I previously said, whether or not a WLR will detect it is a matter of trajectory height, to which I would add ‘and terrain’.

S O
S O
December 22, 2014 4:51 pm

You’re still thinking about long ranges. Commando mortars are mostly used for direct fire, usually machinegun combat distances. There’s no need for a range guess. A machinegunner spotting the flash can simply point at that direction nod a bit with the gun during a burst.
Rangefinding is also quite easy on hilly or mountaineous terrain. It’s a triangulation job only on flat surfaces.

The mortar bombs may in theory have increased RCS due to the fin edges, but shrouded fin designs have fewer such edges.