Special Operations: Silent Shells For Special Situations

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September 28, 2018: In 2018 Russian special operations troops began receiving the lightweight 2B25 silenced mortar. The mortar weighs 13 kg (29 pounds) and fires a 3.3 kg (7.2 pound) shell with a 1.9 kg (4.2 pound) high explosive warhead. Since this ammo is for special operations the warhead has more fragments than regular mortar shells. The 2B25 shell is designed to create no smoke or flash as it is fired from the mortar tube. Equally important is that the silenced mortar makes no more sound than a silenced assault rifle bullet would make when fired. This unique performance comes at a price. Max range of the silenced mortar shells is 1,200 meters. That means it is often fired at targets the gunner can see with the versatile optical sight on the mortar.

The 2B25 can be broken down into a package that will fit into a backpack and be set up in about two minutes. Other troops can each carry a four-pack of the shells that weights about as much as the mortar. A typical use would be on a night mission where the Spetsnaz (special operations) mortar team (of two or more men depending on how much ammo was carried) would set up within range (and, if possible, eyesight) of the target. The assault team would move closer and then the mortar shells would be fired (at the rate of about one every four seconds). The lack of flash or smoke from firing the mortars would mean maximum damage and surprise that would enable the assault team to overrun the position.

The 2B25 was announced (and prototypes were shown at a trade show) in 2011 but shipments did not occur until 2018 so that various technical problems could be solved. Getting all those lighter and quieter components to work reliably together was full of technical surprises. By way of comparison, the lightest regular 82mm mortar system is the 3B24, a 45 kg (99 pound) mortar that can be broken down into two loads so it can be carried by three paratroopers or infantry operating in mountainous terrain. The 3B24 fires the standard 6 kg (13 pound) 82mm shell with a max range of 6,000 meters. The 2B24 is considerably lighter than the original World War II 82-BM-3782mm mortar that weighed 56 kg (123 pounds). During the war, the Russians developed a lighter version (82-PM-41) that weighed 45 kg and had two metal wheels as part of the bipod that made it easier to drag the mortar short distances.

Modern medium (81/82mm) mortars tend to weigh about 45 kg but have better sights and like the 2B24 were designed to be to be efficiently broken down into two loads and backpacked by two soldiers. The World War II mortar fired shells with a max range of 3,100 meters. After World War II more accurate and longer range shells were developed and that is where most of the mortar research and development effort went.

 


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