Artillery: Keshet Will Get You


September 30, 2011: Israel is delivering at least two dozen Keshet 120mm mortar systems a year to its reserve units over the next four years. Since 2007, 82 of these systems have been delivered to active duty infantry units. The U.S. also uses Keshet in its Stryker brigades. Keshet is usually carried in, and fired from, an armored personnel carrier. Keshet weighs 750 kg (1,650 pounds) and can fire up to 16 rounds a minute for up to 7,500 meters. The automated fire control system can coordinate the fire of several Keshet 120mm mortars.

The Keshet system is unique because it is tightly integrated with command and control systems, which enables commanders to quickly call in highly accurate fire. The computerized system uses GPS and digital maps to ensure precise fire. Even with unguided shells, Keshet can put shells on a target within minutes. Keshet can also use highly accurate laser guided shells, if the troops near the enemy, or a UAV, can put some laser light on the target.

A laser guided 120mm mortar shell weighs 17.2 kg (38 pound), and will land within a meter (three feet) of where the laser is pointed. GPS rounds land within 10 meters of the aiming point. Unguided mortar shells cannot put the first round that close, and requires firing several rounds, and adjusting aim, before you get one on the target. A guided mortar round is very useful in urban warfare, where a miss will often kill civilians. The 120mm mortar round has about 2.2 kg (five pounds) of explosives, compared to 6.6 kg (15 pounds) in a 155mm shell. The smaller explosive charge limits collateral damage to civilians.