Infantry: June 8, 2001


China has just offered for export the W99 automatic 82mm mortar system, which is clearly a reverse-engineered copy of the Russian Vasilek system of the same caliber. The W99/Vasilek looks much like a small field piece when deployed, with split trails, two wheels, and a jack stand under the base plate which actually carries the weight when deployed for firing. In the indirect mode, the W99 has a minimum range of 800m and a maximum range of 4,270m. It can also be fired in a direct-fire mode (either for self-defense or as a bunker-buster to support infantry assaults). The W99/Vasilek is loaded with a four-round clip and can fire single shots or fire all four rounds in 1.5 seconds. While it is breach loaded, it can be muzzle loaded in the event the autoloader breaks down. The barrel can be traversed up to 30 degrees to either side; to swing farther the crew of five would have to pull up the trail spades, turn the weapon on the jack-screw, and re-set the spades. The barrel can be elevated as much as 85 degrees or depressed one degree.--Stephen V Cole


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