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Artillery: USMC Adopt Airmobile 120mm Mortar System
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July 16, 2009: After six years of development and paper shuffling, the U.S. Marine Corps have finally ordered the first twenty production model EFSS ( Expeditionary Fire Support System). Earlier this year, six systems (each consisting of two vehicles, one 120mm mortar, an ammo trailer and other gear) were issued to a marine artillery battalion for testing.

The goal with EFSS was to create a new lightweight, self-propelled artillery system. Initially, marine developers combined an existing commercial vehicle, the Supacat HMT (High Mobility Transport) with an Israeli 120 mm mortar system. The HMT is a seven ton, four wheel cross country vehicle with a capacity of 3.2 tons. It has a 180 horsepower engine and a 4x4 drive optimized for cross country work. The cab was modified to hold the five man gun crew.

There were considerable delays when it came time to figure out how to get the HMT into the MV-22 or CH-53E. The MV-22 was simply too narrow for the HMT, or most over available vehicles. The marines had to get another vehicle, the ITV (Internally Transportable Jeep.) This is a modified version of the Growler, a jeep like vehicle that usually sells for about $8,000. After all the needed mods were done with, the marines were paying about $100,000 for each ITV. The Growler is basically a modification of the old (replaced by the Hummer in the 1980s) M-151 Jeep.

The Israeli mortar system weighs 1.6 tons and is mounted on a computer controlled turntable. The mortar can fire regular 120mm shells 8.2 kilometers, or rocket assisted ones 13 kilometers. This is not as far as a 155mm howitzer can reach, but the marines feel that air power and rockets can handle longer range targets. The breech loading mortar system allows for rapid fire and the turntable system takes data directly from forward observers and quickly positions the 120mm tube to put the shells on the target. The EFSS can put shells on the target within minutes of a request. The system can fire 20 rounds in two minutes and uses a GPS assisted fire control system to provide accuracy comparable to any other artillery system.The Israeli mortar was eventually replaced with a similar French model.

The 120mm shells are also about half the weight of 155mm ones. This is to be overcome with a higher rate of fire and the use of several types of cluster bomb shells. One of these, for example, will destroy most armored vehicles, and kill or wound most troops in a 100x100 meter area. Each of the 32 bomblets can penetrate four inches of armor, but will be hitting the thinner top armor on armored vehicles. 

The marines went after the 120mm mortar, instead of another 155mm howitzer, because the mortar is lighter, faster firing, more mobile and, with the right ammunition, just as destructive as the larger howitzer.

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Bob Cortez       7/16/2009 7:19:52 AM
You should talk about explosive payload: mortar shells can be less robust.
 
WWII proved that large mortars have much to be said for them: why so slow.  It is sort of like the Panzerfaust 44, M-42 etc.  The US is way to much on the NIH.
 
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trenchsol       7/16/2009 11:33:10 AM
Howitzer is not intended to engage the enemy at close range, and often has minimum range of fire. Mortar, on the other hand,  can engage enemy that is very close.

Once I was briefly involved in a project of developing software for directing mortar battery fire. Project was canceled, but I've learned that mortar is a cheap way to cover an area with fire. 


DG

 
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dba       7/16/2009 12:13:51 PM
Looks like Growler's got issues?

http://www . thepilot . com/stories/20080125/news//20080125GROWLERCHAPEL . html

The Growler, made in Robbins, costs $127,000 each and cannot safely pull its ammunition trailer, according to interviews and the report from the Government Accountability Office. The trailer has a tendency to bounce or tip over, which could crush a Marine riding in the back of the Growler. A Growler, not pulling a trailer, was reported to have tipped over last summer when it swerved to avoid a turtle in the road. 
 
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SAE       7/16/2009 1:06:39 PM

Looks like Growler's got issues?




http://www" target="_blank">link . thepilot . com/stories/20080125/news//20080125GROWLERCHAPEL . html




The Growler, made in Robbins, costs $127,000 each and cannot safely pull its ammunition trailer, according to interviews and the report from the Government Accountability Office. The trailer has a tendency to bounce or tip over, which could crush a Marine riding in the back of the Growler. A Growler, not pulling a trailer, was reported to have tipped over last summer when it swerved to avoid a turtle in the road. 

Would this kind of flaw be something that someone would have worry about, little kill a weapon development problem,  in WW II? I can see this is a NEW generation.
 
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drake88       7/16/2009 3:52:07 PM
So will their be a guided mortar shell for EFSS someday soon? Or is that unnecessary for it's mission?
 
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ArtyEngineer       7/16/2009 5:08:12 PM
Strategypage has outdone themselve with this article, I dont think I have ever read a more "Factually Wrong" piece of 'Journalism" in all my time visiting and participating in this site!!!!!  I dont even know where to start to correct this nonsense.
 
Well here goes:
 
SP Says - "The Israeli mortar system weighs 1.6 tons and is mounted on a computer controlled turntable."
 
The truth is -  It is the French TDA MO 120 RT 120 mm rifled towed mortar, and there is nothing even remotely resembling a computer controlled turntable. Pic Below:
 
http://www.ordnancemarine.com/2171/graphics/efss.png" width="300" height="269" />
 
SP Says - "The breech loading mortar system allows for rapid fire and the turntable system takes data directly from forward observers and quickly positions the 120mm tube to put the shells on the target". & "The system can fire 20 rounds in two minutes and uses a GPS assisted fire control system to provide accuracy comparable to any other artillery system"
 
The truth is - Its a Muzzle loader and has no onboard Digital FIre Control Equipment at all but relies on traditional "Glass and Iron" sights and external survey and aiming references to lay and aim the weapon.
 
SP Says - "The Growler is basically a modification of the old (replaced by the Hummer in the 1980s) M-151 Jeep."
 
The truth is - "The Light Strike Vehicle (As it is officially known) is an all knew design and contains NO M151 PARTS OR DESIGN ELEMENTS"  See Pic Below:
 
 
http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/xml/news/2008/10/marine_mortarsystem_100308w/100408mc_efss_800.JPG" width="300" height="186" />
 
So all I can say is "Well done SP you have excelled yourself with this one"
 
Regards
 
Arty
 
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doggtag    well, what did you expect?   7/17/2009 6:38:13 AM
Nicely done, AE.
 
I even wonder if this article was written to be more about what the USMC wished it could have in the EFSS, rather than what it is going to get.
 
Shucks, looking at that mediocre little buggy there (ITV), I'm wondering if they'd have been further off with an improved John Deere Gator or similar large ATV as the prime mover. Seems the US military as whole has been becoming enamored with all the versatility that large ATVs can offer on a battlefield.
 
Though I doubt we're going to see some extemporized AT variant like the Dodge 3/4 ton of old mounting a 37mm AT gun in the cargo bed, I think one of those bigger 6-wheel ATVs would perform better in this role than what's being seen in this ITV creation.
Over $100,000 for that thing?
 
Shucks, the German tracked Weisel Armored Weapons Carrier (well, if you can call that "armored") can fit into a CH-53, and the Weisel chassis can even mount and carry its own 120mm mortar without need of a trailer.
To make for more interesting armament, it would even be possible to install one of those RWS turrets on a Weisel with the LAV's 25mm Chain Gun, or even the infamous "50/40" turret mounted on AAVPs and Army ASVs, mounting a 50-cal HMG and a 40mm Mk19.
 
Though I'm not currently looking at the Weisel's dimensions to see how well it would fit (if at all) into an Osprey,
I'm starting to get the general idea that the final production design of the Osprey may have been too hastily rushed: I realize it was designed to stow (rotors and wings folded) in roughly the same below-decks volume as the Marines' cargo helicopters, but it still seems like they designed it with little intention of ever carrying anything inside it other than foot infantry, hence the terribly-designed EFSS we're seeing now that can shoe-horn into an MV-22.
 
Shucks, for the money involved in the EFSS program (and the obvious outcome), I wonder it would've been better off completely designing a new mortar altogether, something that could've bridged the gap between the lighter 81mm and the bigger 120mm, even supplement and possibly replace several types of 105mm howitzer.
This system could've easily been towed by the Gator-type ATVs, which shouldn't cost upwards of $100,000 each to make them Osprey-suitable like this ITV has done (can it even be up-armored to protect its occupants from anything greater than a .22 rimfire?).
 
Still, it's the USMC's cross to bear.
Hopefully they won't break its frail little appearance all too often enough that it actually does, at least once in its career, live up to its expectations (which wouldn't surprise me at all if that only happens under ideal, controlled conditions).
It's not going to do them much good if it spends most of its service life in a maintenance garage.
 
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Herald12345    Sling loads.   7/21/2009 6:11:06 AM
There are cures for everything.
 
Herald
 
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doggtag    Plus and minus of sling loads   7/21/2009 6:44:52 AM
Problem is, suggesting the V-22 try sling loading cargoes, that's effectively going to limit its transit speed to that of helicopters (too much aero drag of the cargo and strain on the cables, and god forbid what happens to the Osprey if one breaks at those loads and air velocities).
 
In this case, the USMC is further off using Super Stallions as the heavy lifters.
 Preferrably, the newer CH-53K will be bought in sufficient numbers.
(See it here if you like it straight from Sikorksy.)
 
At an impressive 7500-shp each, I'm hoping those new engines don't prove as troublesome a deal as Airbus had with the A400M's powerplants.
Should these new engines prove successful, that's what you want powering the next-generation of C-130 replacement,
if we're going to stick to tried-and-true airframe designs with the aft-mounted ramps.
(That amount of power in one engine reminds me of the old C-133s....)
 
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Herald12345       7/21/2009 6:59:54 AM

Problem is, suggesting the V-22 try sling loading cargoes, that's effectively going to limit its transit speed to that of helicopters (too much aero drag of the cargo and strain on the cables, and god forbid what happens to the Osprey if one breaks at those loads and air velocities).

One could argue the same for a Chinook, but yeah; your point is a very good one

In this case, the USMC is further off using Super Stallions as the heavy lifters.

 Preferably, the newer CH-53K will be bought in sufficient numbers.

(See it here if you like it straight from Sikorsky.)

At an impressive 7500-shp each, I'm hoping those new engines don't prove as troublesome a deal as Airbus had with the A400M's power plants.
 
A sadder case, I've never seen. The A400s should have been good aircraft. There was nothing wrong with them until  the 1%ers got hold of the program  in 2002. WRONG engine choice. (Pratt Canada should have won the contract)

Should these new engines prove successful, that's what you want powering the next-generation of C-130 replacement,

if we're going to stick to tried-and-true airframe designs with the aft-mounted ramps.

(That amount of power in one engine reminds me of the old C-133s....)

 
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