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Yolme I Issue l0l

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Artists: Jeremy Moore KCB OBE MG, Comman-
Ray Hutchins
Richard Hook der of British Land Forces during the
Falklands campaign.

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Modern infazttry units have more integral firepowerthan
ABritishArmy 81-mm (3.19-in) Ll6
mortar operates under fullNBC
conditions. Modern intantry may
ever before: since I 945 mortars have heen built in every size, well have to remain in action during
future chemical warfare attacks, and
from hand-held models to monsters weighing ovet a ton, Rifle have to learn how to use their
girenades are being developed into devastating close-combat weapons even when wearing a full
NBC suit andrespirator. Under such
weapons, and even anti-tank systems are being intrcduced to conditions comhat efficiency is
infantry firefights, alwaysimpaired.

The combat power of the modern infantry has now reached the point weapon as it is small, light and accurate, But this has not prevented the
where a single infantry company can go into battle with much of its own deveiopment of new types of weapon, including multipie grenade-
supporting firepower, which in its turn far outweighs the equivalent launchers such as the ltaiian AP/AV700, and such direct-fire weapons as
firepower ol a World War II infantry battalion. Today the company the Israeli 8-300 In age terms the Carl Gustav recoilless gnrn is noir-
usually has its own mortar fire support and at battalion level there is more considered to be rather elderly, but it is still a valued weapon in many
potential mortar support. Many iniantry divisions now use large-calibre armles, although in destructive effect is is now outclassed by such
mortars to lay down their own equivalent of artillery fire support, to the innovations as the RAW (Rifleman's Assault Weapon) with its combina-
extent that most infantry formations are now virtually self-su-fflcient ln this tion of light weight and large warhead. In many ways the RAW, which rs
respect. This support also works downward as well as up, for the modern still in its development infancy, could well indicate the future path of
foot soldier is a walking arsenai of personal fire support. The introduction infantry support weapons: relatively short-range, direct-fire weapons of
of the miniature grenade and its family of launchers means that the considerable power that can be carried and used by one man under
infantryman can cover the area extending outward from the range of the on-the-spot control. This will stili leave a role 1br the longer-range
hand-thrown grenade to the minrmum rangte of company or platoon mortar, for there are no signs that this will leave the tactical scene;
mortars. Wlthin this circle almost any target singled out for flre suppres- indeed, there are indications that it will assume an eveir more important
sion or demolition can be tackled directly by the individual infantryman tactical role as years go by.
without having to call upon heavier weapons held at higher command
A US mortar team is seen in action during the Vietnam War. Close-range
The mainstay oi these locally-controlled support weapons ls still the infantry battles in South East Asia proved the value of intantry support
mortar in all lts many forms, includlng the automatic weapons such as the weapons in providingquickresponsefire, and have led totheUS M224Light
little-known Soviet Vasrlek. The mortar ls still the ideal infantry support moilar programme and to development of the M203 grenade-launcher.

Austrian mortars
The Ar.rstrian company Sudsteirische
Metallindustrre GmbH (SMI) is a rela-
tive newcomer to the armaments busi-
ness, but has made a considerable im-
pact by its ability to design and de-
velop weapons of remarkable per-
formance using the resources of its
associated metal-producing facilities,
which are capable of supplying spe-
cial steels and other alloys. Mortars are
but one aspect of SMl s weapon activt-
ties, but the company currently pro-
duces some very advanced designs in
this category.
Smallest in calibre of these mofiars
is the 60-mm (2.36-in) SMI M6 range,
There are three modars tn the range:
the M6/2I4 Standard, the M6/314 Long
Range and the M6/530 Light. Of the
three the M6/214 is the most orthodox,
while the M6/314 is much longer in the
barrel, The M6/530 Liqht, also known
as the Commando, uses a lightvueiqht
barrel with no brpod and only a small
baseplate; rt is rntended for one-man
use and may be fltted with a trigger
mechanism, All three mofiars can flre
virtually any 60-mm mortar bomb, but
SMI produces its own bomb, the HE-
80, This weighs 1,6kq (3.527 ]b) and
when fired from the M6/314 Lonqr
Range can reach a respectable 4200 m
(4,593 yards). sewice with the Austrtan army, but in Once again a special bomb is pro- The crew of a Noricum I l -mm ( 3. I 9-
Next in line rn the calibre range is case that does not happen for a while duced This rs the HE-78, which weighs in) mortar prepare the weaPon for
the 81.4-mm (3,2-in) SMI M8, The de- SMI is marketrng the MB series for the 14,5 kq (31.97 ]b) including 2.2 kqr firing. Manufactwed hy the
sign of this mortar rs influenced by the export market, and an B2-mm (3.23-1n) (4 BS lb) of explosive payload. ThLs Vereinigte company, successors to
British Bl-mm mofiar, but much use variant is offered for use with Warsaw cast-iron bodied bomb can be fired to the 4O0-year-old tradition of the
has been made of aluminium alloys (for Pact ammunition, a range of 8500 m (9,295 yards). Bohler company, this piece was first
the base plate) and high-quality steels Largest of the mortars is the 120-mm introduced as the 81-mmTYPeMS/
for the barrel. Aqain there are two (4. 72-in) SMI M 12, which was designed Specification ll2WWmortar.
models, the M8/I22 Standard and the for the Austrian army but again is M6/314
M8/222 Long Range, the latter having a being offered for export, The design is Calibre: 60 mm (2.36 in)
longer barrel and also weighing more, based on that ofthe Soviet Model 1938, Length: 1.082 m (42.6 in) bomb 4, ]5 ks (9, 15 lb)
As with the smaller-calibre mortars it is as with so many similar mortars in this Weights:mortar 18,3 kg(40.34 1b): Maximum range: 6500 m (7, 108 yards)
intended that best results should come category, but much use has been bomb 1,6 ks (3,527 lb)
from the use of a special bomb, in this made of specral metals both to lighten Maximum range: 4200 m (4,593 yards) M12
case the HE-70 that can be flred to a the weight and to enable larger Calibre: 120 mm (4,72 in)
ranqe of 6500 m (7,108 yards) when charges to be fired for increased M8/222 Length: 2.0i5 m (79.33 in)
fired from lhe MB/222 Long Rangre, range, The M12 is relatively easy to Calibre: B].4 mm(3.2 in) Weigrhts: mortar 305 kg (672,4 lb);
These mortars have been developed use rn action as a result of a special Lenqth: 1.48 m (58.27 in) bomb 14.5 kq(31.97 lb)
to replace the British B l-mm mortars in bipod design with recorl absorbers, Weights: mortar 39.35 kq (86.75 1b); Maximum range: 8500 m (9,295 yards)

ffi Ut-** mortar

zle capr in use the SRI is inserted in the produce illumination for Mrlan antt-
The British Sl-mm mortar was de-
veloped to replace the venerable 2-tn base of the barrel and acts as a firing tank missile teams to attack night
mortar that origrnated before World pin extension while at the same time targets, The smoke bomb will provide
War IL Desiqn work on the. new allowinq propulsion gases to expand screening for all manner of infantry op-
weapon started well over a decade around the SRI to produce lower bar- erations, while the HE bombs will be
ago, and was undertaken matnly bY rel pressures and thus decrease muz- used in the time-honoured manner,
the Royai Armament Research and zle velocity and range, The normal The basic man-carried satchel con-
Development Establishment (RARDE) minimum ranqie Is 150m (164 Yards), tarns five bombs and one man can car-
at Foil Halstead in Kent. For much of its while the maximum rs 800 m (875 ry the mortar and a satchel wrthout
early development life the 5l-mm (2- yards). The mortar can be carrted by rmpeding his normal combat load-
in) monar had a monopod supporting one man using a webbrng s1ing, and in carrying ability to any marked extent.
leg, but this was eventually discarded action a webbing qaiter around the No doubt other members of the section
as being unnecessary. barrel is gripped to aim and steady the will carry extra ammunitron satchels
The 5l-mm mortar is now entering barrel. Ammunition rs carried in a can-
production for the Bdtish army, which vas satchel and a webbing satchel, and Specification
will use rt at platoon level, In its pro- a webbing wallet is used to carrY 5l-mmmortar
duction form the weapon outwardly re- cleaning rods and a few ancillaries. Calibre:51 mm(2 in)
sembles one of the many command- The ammunition for this mortar in- Lenqth: overall 0.75 m (29.53 in)
type mortars in use elsewhere, but it is cludes HE, illuminating and smoke, Weights: mortar 6, 28 kq (13.84 lb); HE
a bit more complex than that, It does The HE bomb contarns a wall liner of bomb 0,92 kg (2,03 1b); illuminatinq
consist marnly of a bafiel and base- pre-notched wtre for anti-personnel bomb 0,8 kg ( 1.76 1b); smoke bomb
plate but the design detail rs quite in- use, One detail design point is that the 0,9 ks (1,98 lb)
volved, The mortar uses a lanyard- bombs cannot be double-loaded in the Ranges:maximum 800 m (875 yards);
operated tdgger mechanism, and aim- heat of action: rf they are the second minimum 50 m (55 yards)
ing is assisted by a complex sight with bomb protrudes from the muzzle, The
a built-rn Trilux illuminating source for HE bomb is stated to be capable of
use at niqht. This mortar has been de- producing a lethal area five times the A soldier loads a bomb into a 5 I -mm
srgned for really close-range opera- size of that produced by the old Z-in (z-in) mortar, soon to enter service
tions at ranges as close as 50 m (55 mortar bombs, as a result mainly of the with the British Army. I t will be used
yards). This is achreved by the use of a pre-notched wire fragments. as asquadweapon tofireHE and
shorlrange insert (SRI) normally car- One of the primary uses of the 5l- illuminating bombs as well as
ried inside the barrel fitted to the muz- mm mortar rn the British armywlll be to smoke.

ffi ilvlortar Ll6
now possible, to fire some types of
Modern Infantry Support Weapons
the aluminium alloy used is blown into that there were reporG from Arje:-::-:
The Brltish Mortar Ll6 has been one of
the major success stortes of the post- bomb to ranges of over 6000 m (6,560 its forming mould by a controlled ex- that the Ll6 bombs were f,tted '';:i
war export scene, for it is used not only yards), This compares very well with plosion, The baseplate can also heat-seeking warheads that c3-
by the Brltish army but many other other mortars ln service, However, this accommodate the American M29 B1- gnride themselves onto human bcf:s
nations as well, It has even managed to performance has compensatory dis- mm mortar barrel, and allows 360" A special mountinq for use ::
break through the US Army sales bar- advantages, and one of these rs a level traverse wrthout the need to uproot the armoured personnel carrters s.l::. -
rier, and rs now in production for the ofmuzzle blast so high that it can cause base plate and replace it at the new the FV 432 orMll3 series has be::
US Army under the desigmation M252, acute crew discomfort, In time the pre- angle, .developed, but for normal ir-fanuy-'*a:
One of the main reasons for the suc- sent unadorned muzzle ofthe L16 may The ammunition used with the L16 the L16 rs broken doi.n'n into a nun:i::
cess of the Bl.4-mm (3,2-in) l,16 mortar be fitted with some form of cone de- can be quite varled, for the weapon of loads that can be manpacked r:-::
has been its abitity to fire bombs usingt vice to divert some of this blast up- can flre any B)-mm bomb in service action. Development, especially h -j::
powerful propellant charges that wards and away from the crew. with NATO. As always, best results ar'e ammuritton fleld. s still conlLnunq;.:
would normal]y make the barrel too Other features of the LI6 are no less obtained with matching ammunitton it seems certain that the L16 rmll ::-
hot for sustained use, The barrel of the advanced than the barrel. The mount- and the latest HE bomb is the L36A2 main in widespread servtce for na::,-
lng is of a type known as a 'K-mount' with a maximum range of 5650 m (6, 179 years to come,
l,16 is much thicker than normal and is
equipped wrth cooling fins around the from its shape: this is arranged to allow yards) and a flrrng weight of 4,2 kg
bottom sector. These factors com- rapid and easy levelling and elevation. (9,26 lb), This bomb forms a very large Specification
bined allow the L16 to fire reallv 'hot' The baseplate is a Canadian design number of fragments on detonation, IJI6
(as is the sight unit) and is manufac- Other bombs include a smoke bomb Calibre:81,4 m (3,2 in)
charges that can provide the weapon
wrth some remarkable ranges: it is tured by a special process wherebY and a short-range practice bomb. The Length: barrel L2B m (50,4 in)
illuminating bomb normally used is a Weights: mortar 37.85 kg (83.45 ]b)t IlE
Brandt desigrn, bomb 4.2 kg (9,26 1b); smoke bomb
The L16 has been well tried in ser- 4,5 ks (9,92 lb)
vrce and has seen combat during the Maximumranqe: HE 5650 m(6,179
Falklands war,where ttwas soeffective yards)

The Pacific Island camPaigns of ever since. This British L I 6 mortar A Britkh Army I I -mm (3. I 9 in) L I 6 carrier is used to stow the
World W ar I I prove d that mor tar s team formed part of the ANZUK force mortar team have their mortar ammunition, and the mortar rests on
mounted inaIT armoured a large and heavy mounting bracket
were most effective in jungle based in Singapore in the earlY 432
warfare, and they have remained so 1970s. personnelcarrier. The interior of the for firing through the roofhatch.


Brandt gun-mortars
With its gun-moilars Brandt Arme-
ments has produced a tyPe ofweaPon
that has no real counterpart anywhere,
for it has managed to combine the attri-
butes ofthe conventional gun and the
high-angle mortar, The idea is to pro-
vide a versatile close-support weapon
irr use by a variety of qrround forces,
and basically the idea is simPle: a
The Brandt 60-mm Model LR long-
breech{oaded mortar is so arrangled
that the mortar bombs can be fed into
rangegun-mortar is across betwen
the smooth-bored mortar and agvn'
the barrel from the breech for low It can be loaded and tired from the
trajectory firing and from the muzzle
for high angle use, This type of weapon
muzzle and can also be breech'
was developed initially for mounting loaded from within a vehicle turret.
This weapon can tire a sPecial
on light atmoured vehicles, but other
mortar bomb to a range of 5000 m
applications have been evolved lt (5468yards).
cannot be used from a biPod or other
Brandt gnrn-mortars (continued)

gnound mounting. recoil mechanism and is proportional-

There are two calibres in the Brandt ly much heavier than the 60-mm mod-
grun-mortar range, 60 mm (2,36 in) and els, But the larqer gnrn-mortar can fire
81.4 mm (3,2 in), Of the two the 60-mm the entire range of B1-mm projectiles,
version is the one more likelY to be and even has one that is unique to its
used for infantry support as the Bl-mm type. This is an armour-Pietcing
version ts deployed more as a mam 'arrow' projectile that is fired (usinq a
weapon on large armoured cars and special charge) only in the direct-fire
armoured personnel carriers, (The 60- role. It is capable of piercing up to
mm versions are also used as turret 50mm (1.97in) of armour at 1000m
weapons on light armoured vehicles, (1,094 yards), but this rs achieved by
and some have been mounted on llght using a special propelling chargte and
patrol craft, including inflatable the weapon is really outside the nor-
Zodiac-type boats,) These turret mal run of infantry support weapons,
mountings are designed for the close Development of both the 60-mm and
suppofi of infantry operations, The Bl-mm gmn-mortars is strll continuing,
smooth-bore barrel ts mounted in such and both types are in widespread ser-
a manner that a spring around the bar- vice. In South Africa the 60-mm qnrn-
rel absorbs most of the recoil forces, mortar mounted on the EIand
this reducinq the trunnion forces to a armoured car makes much use of the
great degree, Conventional mortar canister round as an anti-ambush Above : The combination of gun- Below : A Brandt 60-mm (2.36-in) gun-
projectrles can be fired, but for dtrect- weapon during bush warfare, mortar and light turretprovides any mortar is fitted in the turret of a
fire use special canister rounds (pack- light mounted vehicle with a SI BMAS armoured pe rsonnel
ed with small steel or lead spheres for Specification powerful armament that can be used carrier. This is the IR (long-range)
anti-personnel use at close ranges) or 60-mm (standardmodel) either for directfire or long-range model of the weapon, which has a
hollow-charge armour-piercing pro- Calibre:60 mm (2,36 in) plunging fire. Here the gun-mortar is longer barrel. Used on this tyPe of
jectiles can be fired. When fired in the Lengrth: 1.21 m (47.64 in) mounted in a SI BMAS carrier in place mounting the bombs are normallY
low trajectory, the standard 60-mm Weights: mortar 42 kg (92,6 1b); HE of the more normal 20-mm Q.7 87 -in) breechJoaded, and arefiredusing a
gnrn-mortar has a range ofabout 500 m bomb 1.72 kg (3.79 ]b) cannon. percussion trigger.
(547 yards), but when used as a con- Maximumranges: (directfire) 500 m
ventronal mortar the rangte is 2050 m (547 yards); (as mortar) 2050 m (2,242
(2.242yafis). When lhe weapon is em- yards)
ployed in the mortar role bombs are
rhtroduced into the muzzle ln the nor- Bl-mm (standardmodel)
mal way and fall to strike a fixed firing Calibre:81,4 mm (3.2 in)
pin; in the low trajectory role a normal Lenqth:2.3 m (90,55 in)
breech mechanism is used, Brandt Welghts:mortar 500 kq(1,102 1b); HE
also produced a special long-range bomb 4.45 kq (9,8 lb)
version of the 60-mm gun-mortar, but Maximumranges: (directflre) 1000 m
on this model the direct-fire range re- ( 1,094 yards); (as mortar) B0OO m (8,749

malrs 500 m (547 yards); onlY in the yards)

mortar role is there any range in-
crease, in this rrstance to 5000 m (5,468
yards) with a special long-ranqe bomb Below : A Brandt 60-mm (2.36-in) Wn'
and charge, mortar mounted on a Zodiac
On the B ]-mm gnrn-mortar thlngs are inflatable craft to demonstate the
more complex. This weapon is in- light trunnion loadings of this type of
tended as main weapon for armoured weapon. The gun-mortar maY be
vehlcles, and is thus equipped with a breech or muzzle loaded.

Once a most primitiveweapon, the mortar has developed
sinceWorldWar II into an increasingly sophisticated system,
now on the threshold of firing guided projectiles. Infaitry
firepower has been further increasedby theuse of grenade
launchers : rifle-mounted launchers are now being
supplemented by automatic weapons like the'F lime'.

\'lodern infantry weapons may appear to have reached a plateau of develop-

ection. I n th e f ield the modern infantry company or battalion can carry
'n e nt pe rf
nto action enough destructive or support fire potential to outfight its World War
l1 equivalent many times over, and the weapons are now not only more powerf ul
and longer-ranged but also far more portabie. For allthis, however, the mortar of
''Alorld War ll looks very similar to its modern descendant and so does the
ammunitlon. So where might the mortar go in the years ahead?
The short answer is that it will go a very long way. Already modern mortars
nave ranges that are nearly double those of World War ll. and chemists and
ballistic designers keep coming up with yet more formulations to create yet
nrqher muzzle velocities for the bombs alreadv in use. This increased muzzle
re-ioc.tycanbeconvertedd'ectlyinto-ange,butalsohasitscost. fheprepsl13nl
ciarges keep getting larger and heavier, and burn al ever.ncreasing tempera-
tures, This extra heat has to go somewhere, and much of rt ts transmitted to the
barrel, causing the metal to expand so much thatthe bomb cannotfall to reach
lhe firing pin or"else suffers propellant ignition before it can be conventionally
iired. Either course of events will cause more than problems for the crew
involved. The way ahead here s to use specral steels or other materials (perhaps
ceramics) forthe barrel, which could be expensive and difficult, or else modify
the charges to ensure lower burning limits. lt is along this latter course that
much promise is foreseen. One othel unwelcome side effect of these hot and
reavy propelling charges can be mentioned by any morrar ream. -he m.Lzzie
blast and flash resulting f rom a heavy charge can be dreadf ully damaging to the
ears and other senses: the American version of the British L 1 6 B 1-mm (3.1 f -in)
mortar has had to be fitted with a special cone over the muzzle to divert muzzle
blast upwards and away f rom the mortar team. This modification has been f itted
at the behest of the US Army medical authorities, who consider it an essential
frtment. Otherarmed forces make no such concessions to their personnel, but
-rg1t have to do so in 'utlre.
Another area for future improvement in mortar technoloey is aerodynamics.
Recent innovations in the artillery prolectile field have r"rritl*'d in some'stirtling
'-creases in porential range as a'result ma:nry o' special slreamt ning, and i
seems possible that similar improvements could be made to mortar bomb
oJtlines, some oI which have ihanged but litlle lo. years. Then there is the
recent us€ of obturating rings arou"nd the bomb boby periphery to prevent The American SMAW (Shoulder-launched Multi-purposeAssaull Weapon) is
propelling gases'leaking' between the bomb and the sldes o{ the barrel durng aderivative of the I sraeli B-3A0 anti-armour weapon developed for th; US'
the firing phase; this is known as windage. The leaking gas is simplywasted and Marine Corps. They use it as a bunker-busting weapon tha{can be aimed
cannot assist the bomb on its travel, and can also have a random effect on the using a spotter ritle under the launcher tube. The launcher is all-American, as
rajectory, thus reducing accuracy. The obtlrat'ng r ngs are L,sually o{ a nard are the sights.
p astic material, and allow the bomb to fall freely onto the firing pin but open
.nder gas pressure 10 seal the gap between tne bon'o a10 the barrel walls. armor Mortar Projectile). Although the rwo projects drffer in detailthey both rely
Despite the success of these rings on bombs used by modern mortars such as on a forward observer usinq a laser designator system to prolect a laser beam at
ine Br;tish L16. there ,s still roorn [or improvemenr in tne r lse and manV rnoflar the desired target: the dbscending frortar bbmb sensed the laser energy
systems slill do not use tnerr at all. reflected f rom the target and sprouts small wings to guide the bomb towardsli,
where an orthodox antt-armour warhead works in tlre usual manner. GAMP rs
Anti-tank mortars stillvery much in the project srage, but it is anticipated that a service version will
The mortar is a high-angle-f ire weapon, a iactor which makes it pretty useless emerge.
as an anti-tank weapon. The long f light time of the projectile make the chances Europe was an early entrant in this field, for experiments were conducted tn
of hitting a movrng target (such as a tank) fairly remote, even using mociern Swedeh and West Germany during the 1970s on'mortar-launch guided projec-
forward observer techniques, but there is a considerable school of thought that tiles. The Swedish prograrnme was terminated when the costs rose too high but
states that in the type of battle where massed armour is expected to be used the German project, known as Bussard (buzzard) worked quite well befoie the
every weapon type must play some part in atternpting to halt the onward 'noney was sw rcned ro otner tnings. One l''t ng all ol tnese weapons ha\e or
advance of the armour. This has led to a reassessment of the anti-tank role of thd had) in common was size. The Furopean projects were at least 1 20 mm (4.72 ln)
mortar, and to the introduction of what are vrrtually mortar-launched guided in calibre, and GAMP is intended for use in the existinq 107 mm i4.2-n1 rfled
missiles. Already some are in development or on thrj stocks. ln the USA there mortars. However a British project now in its early staggs and known as Mer in is
are currentlytwo projects bV two different manufacturers to produce a guided intended for use with the British L16 B1-mm mortar and relies upon mii metric
mortar projectile that rejoices under the project name of GAMP (Guided Anti- radar target detection for its terminal guidance. Meriin is a very lonc prolectile
and its range will no doubt be reduced from the usual, but ts shaped charge
Thisversionof theRAW, seen on the right, uses a Jaserbe am system to warhead could have lethal effects on the relativelv thin too armour of a tank.
determine the exact distance from a protected targetits hollow charge Apart from nnortars, the entries in this analvsis att indicaie that the ordinarv
warhead should be detonated for maximum effect. The laser bean and foot soldier is increasingly likely to be carrying his own fire support weapons a6
sensorwindows canbe seen. A more orthodox RAW projectile can beseen he moves lnto action in the Vears ahead. Two manifestations of this trend are
mounted on the rifle. already evident, one being the increasing application of small-calibre projected
grenades such as the Sovret 30-mm (1.18-in) and American 40-mm 11.575-in)
weapons; the UK may well be entering the contest with a 37-mm 11 457-inJ
grenade system. The other manifestation is the American RAW (RiJleman's
* -'* Assault Weapon). a deceptively simple concept that has stiil to be fully de-
veloped for its full potential to be realized. RAW has a considerable deslructive
potential when compared with the smaller grenades, but it is very much a
one-shot weapon at present and its ranqe is still relatively restricted. But it does
provide the ioot soidier with the firepower potentral of a small field gun, and
& what really matters to the soldier in action is that he has that potential literally at
e his finqertips, to use as and when he needs it most. Mortars and their llk mav be
.*e all very weli as far as the soldler is concerned, but such weapons neeci an
qr' rf established communrcation network in which to funcllon, along with the conr-
trd* mitmentof a large numberof menwho mightwell be needed elsewhere. Thus I
is with portability and ease of control that the f uture of inf antry su pport weapor s
might well lie, and it would appear that the infantry of tomorrow may be far r'.1'r
powerfully armed than thev are even now.
Brandt mortars
-:e name Brandt has been associated
','.:th the design, development and pro-
j'.lction of all types of mortars since
War i, when the mortar in its
present form first appeared, Much of
--ee detail development work that was
:arried out between the wars was car-
ned out by a concern known as Stokes-
tsrandt, and this concern is now part of
rhe Paris-headquartered Brandt
Armements, Today the range of mortar
types that the company produces is
prodigrous, but confined to three main
calibres: 60 mm (2,36 in), Bl mm
(actually 81.4 mrn/3.2 in) and 120 mm
(4.72in). in the largest calibre Brandt
produces two basic versions, smooth-
bored and rifled.
The Brandt 60-mm mortars varY
from quite complex and healry models
with extremely lonq barrels to very
simple and light 'commando' models
with no bipod and only a simple base-
plate. The lonq-range models can pro-
duce some quite startlinQl ranges for
such small calibre bombs, for even us-
ing standard bombs a 5000-m (5,468-
yard) range is possible. This range has
to be purchased at a price in size and
weight, but rt is a price some armed
forces are wrlling to pay, By contrast
the srmple Commando model weighs
only 7,7k9 (]6.975 lb) in its simplest
form (without a trigger mechanism)
and can flre a wide range of ammuni-
tion types to a range of 1050 m (1,148
In the Brandt 8l-mm mortars the
company agarn produces a wide array
of models from simple light versions to
special long-barrelled models to
obtain maximum ranqte. In desiqn
terms all of them are fairly orthodox,

Above right: A Brandt I 20-mm rifled

mortar in action. Note that this model
resfs on jtsbaseplate and travelling
wheels for firing, which not only
provides extra stability but also
enables the mortar to be emplaced
very rapidly. Despite its barrel
length this mortar is still muzzle-
loaded with an I 8.7 -kg (4 1.23-lb)

Left : The Brandt I 20-mm (4.7 2 -in) Above: Seen here in the capable
mortar has a rifled barrel. The hands of the 2ndREP (French
shownis anHE bomb F oreign Legion par achutis ts ), the
complete with a full array of Brandt I 20-mm (4.7 2 -in) MO- I 20-60
propelling charges forward of the combines the firepower of a heavy
tail; these can be added or taken mortar with the mobility of a much
away tovary the range. Some can lighter weapon. It fires a 13-kg (29-
also have rocket assistance motors to [b) bomb to amaximum range of
further increase the range. 6610 m(7,229yards).

Brandt mortars (continued) Modern Infantry Support Weapons
al] have been sold to a number of its trajectory. A typical range wrth this
.:ned forces around the world. To go rocket assistance is i3000 m (14,217
-"-;r them Brandt also produces a wide yards) for an HE bomb weighing
:aage of Bl-mm bombs and propelling 1B.7kg (41.23 1b), Despite their size
lrarges. The bomb types include and werght, the Brandt rifled mortars
HE bombs, HE bombs can thus have a very useful perform-
-,';rth specral high-fragmentation ance and many nations are now active-
effects, smoke bombs, illuminating ly investigating these weapons for
bombs and special target-marker possible use with light or rapid-
combs for indicating targets to aircraft, response airborne forces.
But it is with the Brandt l20-mm mor-
:ars that the company today has its big- Specification
grest impact, With this calibre the mor- MO-120-RT-6I
tar can be a highly versatile adjunct to Calibre: 120 mm (4.72 tn)
conventional artillery, and many Lengrth: barrel2,0B m (B 1,9 in)
armies use 120-mm mortars in place of Weights: mortar 5BZ kg (1,283 lb);
artillery, The smooth-bore models in bomb (HE) 18,7 kg (41,23 lb)
thrs range are conventional mortars Maximum range: (rocket assist)
that can be used in exactly the same 13000 m(14,217yards)
way as smaller-calibre models, but the
rifled mortars are much more complex A Brandt I 20-mm (4.7 2 - in) rifled
and in many ways resemble conven- mortar on tow behind aVAB 4x4
tional high-angle guns. The rifled armoured personnel carrier ofthe
weapons fire pre-rifled projectiles French army. The mortar is carried
whose range can be enhanced by the with the large baseplate still
use of an auxiliary rocket unit that cuts attached, ready for rapid
in only when the bomb is at the top of emplacement at the firing position.

The Lyran is a special form of infantry to set the barrel at an angle of 47". A
support weapon for it fires only an rllu- flare shell is then taken and a simple
minatrng round, The use of infantry nose firse is set to operate at a range of
support weapons to fire illuminating 400 or 800 m (437 or 875 yards). The
rounds is nothing new, but it is becom- shell is then allowed to fall to the base
lngTan increasingly important one with of the barrel and is flred in the normal
a host of applications, Mortars have for manner, rising to a height ofbehveen
long been used to fire special bornbs 200 and 300 m (656 and 984 ft) before
that eject a small parachute at the the parachute emerges to give the
apogee oftheir trajectory and then de- flare a burn time of about 25 seconds.
scend as Lugh-power flares, spreadrngr At a height ,of 160 m (525 ft) the flare
their light onto the qound below, This illuminates an area about 630 m (689
light can be used to illuminate an yards) in diameter, although this will
attacking enemy, or to reveal an vary accordrng to the wind and other
armoured target for missile teams to weather factors.
tackle, and these are only tuvo applica- Although it is not deflnitely stated
tions; the Lyran is a simple mortar sys- anywhere in the manuJacturer's lrtera-
tem that can be used for all of them, ture, the Iryran packs can be dis-
The Lyran has been desigrned, de- carded after use or retained for subse-
veloped and produced by AB Bofors, quent filling and reuse, The Lyran rs in
In its infantry version (there is also a service with the Swedish armed
variant designed for use on combat forces, has been sold to Switzerland
vehicles) there are hvo packs, both and Belgium, and has also been used
formed from polyethylene plastic, One for guard duties by United Nations
contains the barrel and two flare shells, forces rn the Middle East, It has proved
and the other contains four flare shells, to be q very rehable piece of equip-
For use the barrel is taken out of its ment and well worth the investment of
pack and screwed rnto a housing on a special projector reserved purely for
the pack itself, The flrer actually sits on the illuminating role, The combat vehi-
the pack and uses a simple spirrt level cle valiant can be mounted in single-

Above: A soldier carries a Lyran bom bs. T he Lyr an launcfi er 13 usec'

launching sys tem in to action. T he for target illumination only and cces
container in his right hand holds the not fire HE bombs. I t can also be'":-"*.
This Lyran is setup ready for firing the baseplate and as a seat tor the barrel and two illuminating bombs; mounted onvehicles.
with the barrel container doubling as firer. the other containerholds four
lyraa (continued)

que, its success will no doubt lead to srmple to use by virtually any soldier Cdibre:71 mm (2,795 in)
similar devices in the future. Target (and it must not be forgrotten that firing Weights: barrel pack 9 kq ( 19.84 lb);

illumination for anti-tank or other flares using a mofiar is no job for the ammunition pack B kg (U,64 1b); flare
weapon teams is now an entrenched untrained), and it can be taken by any shell 1.17 ks (2,58 lb)
operational requirement, and the soldier to any location, Operating ranges: 400 or 800 m (437 or
Lyran can produce much better illu- 875 yards)
minatron than an equivalent mortar Specification Flare burningtime: 25 to 30 seconds
bomb and at a much lower cost. It is Iryran (infantry series)

ittzzqlightweight Company Mortar

::::-a-r-v years the us Army
3--nm (3,2-in) M29 mortar as
has used
uses laser rangteflnders to determlne
target ranqes accurately and so allow
.-=:ard mortar, and although this the first bombs arriving on target to
-.'i.,ap.:r has been fairly successful it is have the maximum effect, Thus the lit-
-:r,- :egarded as lackinq rangie. It is Ile M224 lightweight company mortar
l-<: :ega-rded as rather healry, and is now at the stage where it is no longer
:'j:rrg the Vietnam conflict it proved a simple mortar but almost in the
--*-.f loc heavy for the conditlons en- bracket where it can be considered to
l:'niered. It was therefore decided to be a weapon system, It is also at the
:J back onto the old World War II stage where the costs of the whole
nl-nrn (2,36-in) mortars, but these too programme are such that the recent
::ad ror long been known to be lacking purchase of the British L 16 B i-mm mor-
:- range. What was needed was a tar may bring the whole subject to an
:,:npromrse weapon between the old end before it prices rtself through the
il-r.rm mortars and the Bl-mm M29. US Treasury roof.
-:.s led to a lenqthy and involved
::3grarnme of development that has No data available,
::'r resulted in the 60-mm M224 Light-
weight Company Mortar, Right: On exercise in South Korea a
Tne \t1224 has now been issued to US mortar crewman shoulders the
:-aatry auborne and airmobiie infan- weightof the tripodfor theM29 81-
umts. Although no data regarding mm mortar. Experience inVietnam
r;erqhts or dimensions relating to the led the Army to conclude that the
l,'224 have been released, it appears weapon was too heavY and
81 -mm
.: be a long-barrelled weapon that can cumber s ome; th is led to the
ce fi.tted with either a conventional development ot the M224 60-mm
i:ipod or a srmple baseplate for use in Iightweight mortar.
:e 'commando' conflgnrration, Much
';e has been made of aluminium alloys
:or components such as the large base-
plate, and it is knoum that the entire
Teapon can be broken down into two
i:ads for manpack transport, It is also
pcssrJcle to mount the weapon on some
Perhaps the most important destgm
::atwe of the M224 ts the ammunitlon it
1es, ald especially the multl-option
rse involved. The M224 flres HE illu-
:r-rnating, smoke and practice rounds,
a:rd the multi-option fuse is known as
:e M734. This is an electronic fuse,
a:id as it was among the first of its type
:c reach senrce it has been the subject
:: much attention. The M734 has four
detonatrng options; high airburst, 1ow
point detonatron and delay,
lhe fuse has inbuitt redundancy, in
rfthe chosen option does not oper-
=at the fuse automatically activates the
:-ext option. For instance if low airburst
:-as been selected and does not oper-
are the fuse will detonate on point con-
:act, i,e. when it strikes the Snound; if
:at farls it wrll switch itself to delay.
Power to operate the microcircuits is
;lenerated inside the fuse by air pas-
s-nq througth a miniature turbine in the

The ability to select high or 1ow air-

burst (with a reasonable certainty that
re fi:se wr}1 operate as selected) con-
s:derably enhances the destructive
efrect ofthe bomb: the number offraq-
rnents spread over a wide area comes
close to the destructive and anti-
personnel effects of the larger Bl-mm
bombs, However, the electronic fuses
are very expensive to Produce, and
have to be churned out in very large
numbers to enable the economics of
scale to bring the costs down to
reasonable levels, ThelJsArmy,sMZ24lightweightcompanymortarjsseenlere abouttobetfuedfromitssimplebaseplate.This
To go with the M224 and its electro- in either form the bomb can be fired using the 'drop firing'
iiriiiiZ-iLttoi" ""ia -i[i-" iore ionientiona] bipod;bomb
nic-fused bombs the US ArmY now mefnod or a trigger mechanism' A multi-function fused is em ployed'

The Night Belongs to Charlie
?fteessence of guerrillawarfareistohitandrun-advancewhentheenemyisweak,
and retreatwh6n he is strong. During the day many areas of SouthVietnamwere Below: The target - a Special Forces camp in the
Central Highlands. The establishment of the s e
deceptively peaceful: tlS ana AnVw troops patrolled the countryside encountering r'so/afedposfs en abled large areas of Vietnam to
nothing bitihe odd booby-trap. But after sundown, govgrl!ryg+t officials retired to be patrolled by US troops, government units or
their b,-unkers and militarypoJts sfepp ed up their guard. Shielded by the darkness, tribal mercenaries, but the camps themselves
the guerrillas silently moved to the attack' wer e vulner able to attac k.

Although the fact seems to have escaped many

modern military writers, the long campaign in
Vietnam was primarily a guerrilla war. From
time to trme North Vietnamese forces would
concentrate to carry out some large-scale op-
erations, but for most of the time the forces in
South Vietnam operated in classic gnrerrilla
-By using hit-and-run tactics,
the time US armed forces were estab-
Iished rn Vietnam the gnrerrillas had more than
perfected their tactics. Almost since the end of
World War II the guerrillas had been fighttng a
serles of protracted campaigns to rid them-
selves of various occupatton forces, starting
with the French, and by the late 1950s they
were already encountering increastng num-
bers of Amertcans, at first 'advisers' and later
genuine operational unlts, Wrth them the latter
brought virtually the full spectrum of American
service life from the universal PXs to front-line
combat aircraft. In between were the many
and various support and combat services, and
together these gradually occupied an increas-
inq amount of real estate in South Vietnam, The
Americans' flrst bases were easy to infiltrate
and became the subject oi a series of simple
guerrilla attacks that ranged from the con-
cealed bomb to the sudden gnrn attack, It was
not long before the Americans tightened up
their internal security, and the bases soon re-
sembled forts of a bygone military era. These
'forts' were complete with earthworks, watch
towers and security gates, and everywhere
barbed wire proliferated.
But try as the Americans might, the US bases
were always isolated islands in a sea of foretgn Below: lungle airstrips made ideal targets for sneakmortar attacks, so aircraft had to load and unload at
1i;i;";;;;;;;i. iiie a ae HavittandbHC-4Caribou approaches the SpecialForces campinll Corps'
The Night Belongs to Charlie

territory. Some of the larger air bases were gmerrilla activities, At times it became almost would usually find a position close to the base
close to large areas of population, but many impossible to operate some of the air bases as a perimeter where a mortar could be quickly set
more installations were simply bases of one result of the constant state of armed readiness up and fired, but what was also needed was
kind or another placed in splendid rural isola- of the ground staff and their guards. A small target information: what it was and exactly
tion, Typical of these were the many field artil- attack from a couple of snipers often meant that where it was located inside the base. it was not
Iery posts known as fire support bases. From the whole base had to be piaced on a level of aiways possible to flnd from any position out-
within a whole series of these bases dotted armed alert that brought vlrtually all activities side the base the exact location of, for example,
around the countryside the US Army field artil- to a halt, though mat6riel damage was usually an aircraft pen or a fuel dump insrde the wire,
lery could direct supporting fire against any negligible. What did cause damage was the so the gmerrillas had to get their information
Iocation under threat of attack. In their turn they night attack. from inside.
were wide open to counterattack, not by artil- Operating under darkness the guerrillas
lery fire but from a whole array of gnrerrilla could often bring up heavier weaponry for VietCongspies
methods. These ranged from rocket to mortar more harmful attacks. Despite the fact that Here they were usually considerably
fire, with the constant threat of sniper flre American patrols operated outside the base assisted by the fact that nearly every base had
thrown in, perimeters the guerrillas could often worm a proportion ol the local population working 1
Despite thelr best efforts the Americans their way past the main guarded points and somewhere around the base ltsell Local
could never entirely rid themselves of these approach the base wire ready for their attack. labour olten had to be used to build the deien-
enrerrilla attacks, A constant stream ofinfantry
patrols spread out from the bases at all times of
They had two main weapons with which to
reach inside the base area, be it an air base or
sive earthworks or carry out the usual mundane
laundry tasks, and these workers had to have I
the day or night by helicopter and on foot. They one of the many other types of base installatlon. their own sewices such as latrine dlggers, re-
made a gneat deal of noise and often sprayed One of these weapons was the single-shot freshment workers and so on. Within this rnter-
the locai terrain with streams of gmnfire of ev- rocket, and the other the mortar. The single- nal population there was always someone who
ery calibre, often dlrected at nothing more than shot rockets were ideal gmerrilla weapons: a could be persuaded, not always very gently, or
the local vegetation, These flrepower patrols single rocket and its launcher tube or rail could was genuinely wllling to discover exactly what
looked good on American television back be carried forward by a few men and fired the gmerrillas wanted to_ know. Thus the exact
home but did little to remove the guerrillas, before the crew decamped ln a matter of distance to a fuel instaliation could be deter-
who simply made themselves scarce whenev- seconds, and the same could be said for mor- mined by counting the number of paces from a
er a patrol was in the offing. AIl too often inno- tars, However, the mortar is a less indiscrimin-
cent civilians were victims, and in thelr resent- ate weapon than the rocket, which is simply an
area weapon, The mortar could thus be used TheVietCongmortar team opensfire onaUS base
ment frequently turned to the gnrerrlllas, offer- concealed by both the darkness and the jungle.
ing aid and concealment. agalnst point targets. The mortars shown are Type 63, a French design
Thus by the late i 960s the Americans were in By the late 1960s the gmerrillas had brought adopted by the US Army, copied by the Chinese
the position of having to send in more and more the use of the mortar against bases to a high Nationalists and Communists in turn and then
men and equipment to counter the constant point of perfection. Careful reconnaissance manufactured by the NorthVietnamese.
Modern Infantry Support Weapons
icown point, This information could be passed
:::. by word of mouth, or by leaving a number
scrawled on a post or under a stone, The gnrer-
r:-llas would then work out their ranges and all
c ier firing data well in advance and their mor-
?r attack could then be made when it suited
-,hem, usually at nlght.
The South Vietnamese gnrerrillas used a
,mde variety of mortars, but one of the most
commonly used was a weapon known as the
Type 63 This was a 60-mm (2,36-in) mortar with
a rather odd development history, It was origi-
nally a pre-World War II French design that
was adopted by the US Army as lts M2. Num-
bers of these M2s were issued to the Chinese
Nationalist flrrces during World War II, and the
Chinese in thelr turn declded to manufacture
tre design as their TYpe 3l In their turn the
Chinese Communists captured large numbers
cf these Type 3is, and they too decided to
produce their ornm copy, this time as the Type
03. A-fter the T\7pe 63 reached the South Viet-
nermese gn-lerrlllas they in their turn added their
own local modlfication in the form of a carrying
handle on the barrel. The Type 63 was a simpie
weapon (and stiil is, for it remains in wide-
spread use throughout South East Asia) that
NwnerousVietnamese were employed as cooks,
bundry staff andcleaners inUS bases, enabling
thegruerrillas to obtain accurate measurements of
the area and the locationofkey targets such as Above: Discovering the location o{ the hidden mortarc was no easy task; even in daylight the jungle
ammunition stores and command posts.TheVC canopy severely restricted visibility. The US Army soon introduced moftar locating radar which could
auld thus deliver accurate tire without alerting track the trajectory of incoming rounds and spot the source of the fire but in this jungle on theCambodian
the defences by firing ranging rounds. border the system failed to perform as well as had been hoped.

-drF+* .-,:.r::.;
- *i;#!. r:::,..::i'1lll.
The Night Belongs to Charlie
could easily be carrred by one man for it
weighed only 12.39 kq (27.3lb) ln actton and
the barrel, baseplate and bipod were so
arranged that they could all be carried con-
nected to one another. Once at the firing site it
took only a few seconds to emplace the mortar
and use the sights to aim the barrel so that firing
could commence, The Type 63 has a range of
1530 m (1,673 yards) and it can fire up to 20
bombs in a minute. Since a mortar bomb's time
of fligrht is qurte long, it was usually possible to
fire at least l0 bombs before the first had land-
ed on the target, Thus if lt was lucky the mortar
team could fire the last bomb and start to move
off even before the first bomb had landed.
The team had to be away quickly, for lts
members knew what would happen in retalia-
tion. Any patrol in their area would rapidly
move towards them and the full array of Amer-
ican weaponry would be directed against
them. This could be anything from rifle fire to a
vrsit lrom 'Puff the Magic Dragon', in the form of
a Douglas AC-47 with its massed battery of
rotary machine-quns, By the late 1960s the
gmerrillas' frring positions were often known
'Arithmetic on the frontier': several million dollars' barrage could do substantial damage in a few before the flrst bomb had ianded. Most of the
worth of Lockheed C- I 30 is blown up by a Viet minutes, and theVCwere adeptatmelting into the larger bases were gradually equipped with
Cong mortar bomb, costing less than a pair of jungle to avoid retribution.
boots, atDakTo airstrip, 1967. Awell-aimed
special counter-mortar AN/MPQ-4 radars.
These radars were originaily meant for use on
fi:ll-scale battlefields and kept up a constant
watch by scanning a sector of terrarn with a
fan-like beam, If a mortar bomb went through
this beam it automatically switched on a
second beam above the first, As the bomb
went through this second beam a computer
could determine the exact firing position from
which the bomb came, This informatlon was
originally meant to direct counter-mortar artil-
lery or mortar fire, but in Vietnam it was used to
direct patrols or gnrnships. In theory thrs should
have meant the eiimination of the enrerrilia mor-
tar teams, but this happened in only a very few
cases, By the time the patrols or gn-rnships got to
anywhere near the team's position it was gone;
the problem was where?
The answer often came many months later,
for the gnrerrillas llterally went underground.
The area around many American bases was
frequently riddled wrth a network of tunnels or
bunkers that were entered through disgnrised
'traps' that were drfficult to find, and once inside
the network the gmerrillas were safe. The sear-
ching patrols often waiked over thelr heads as
they hid, together with thelr weapons which
were cleaned ready for the next attack,

Above: An M I 1 3 APC races along the perimeter at

D ak To past the wrecked C' I 30. On this occasion
theVC didnotslip away after firing afewrounds,
but maintained a heavy barrage of mortar bombs
which eventually hit the camp's ammunition
dump, with spectacular results.

Right: DakTo's 105-mm howitzer battery pounds

the ridgeline where the VC mortars were thought
to be dugin, agunner ejecting thehotshellcasing.
llS forces often had enormous firepower to hand,
but locating the right targetwas rarely easy.

F arright: Although the I I -mm mortar proved a

beast to carry along jungle trails, it enioyed some
success rh ifsself-propelled form. Here the gunner
loads a smoke bomh Ior regristration fire on a site
chosen for an airmobile assault near the Dong N ai
river in III Corps.

E [b-** grenad.e-launchers Modern Infantry Support Weapons
Arnerican 40-mm (1.575-in) gre-
famrly was originally developed
: :-ll the gap between the maximum
:=ge of hand{hrown grenades and
:= minimum range of light mortars,
-:e family generally known as the
l,1136 gnenades (there are dozens of
:-jerent types) look like squat rifle
:--lds of large calibre and use a thln-
mJled cartridge case to fire them, The
system is such that the propellant
l:-es are allowed to flow though a
,-nes of vent holes into a chamber in
;";1ch they are allowed to expand at a Above : An M 20 3 is fitted to an M I 6A I
::latively low pressure, thus allowing rifle and is shownwith two typical
;-:rte light weapons to fire the qrre- more) with an M203 fitted to his rifle, types of 40-mm (1.575-in) grenade.
- -!^^ The gTrenades fired are usually the The M203 can be used againstpoint
The first M406 launcher was the M406 HE type, but also available are targets up to I 50 m ( I 64 yards) away,
M79, which was a very simple desrqn, smoke, marker smoke, flares, CS riot although larger targets can be
-: all intents and purposes it is a spe- control and so on, engaged at ranges up to 3 50 m ( 38 3
:-al singTle-round shotgnrn into which a The M203 can be used aqarnst point yards). The loaded launcher weighs
;:enade rs hand-loaded after the ac- targets at ranges up to about 150m onlyabout 1.63 kg(3.6 lb).
--:n has been 'broken' and which is (164 yards), although area targets can
-:en fired from the shoulder in the nor- be enqaged at almost maxmum range Left: The first weapon specifically
:.a1 way, The main drawback to the which varies between 350 and 400 m made to tire spin-stabilized
1,179, which ls still a widely-used (383 and 437 yards). At these ranqes grenades, the M79 has a maximum
rieapon (it was used by the Royal the performance of the grenades, effective range against area targets
l,{aines in the Falklands), is that its especially the HE ones, rs limrted by of 400 m (437 yards). A single-shot,
ize means that it requires a soldier to the amount of internal space required bre ak- open weapon, i ts size
:arry and use it, and when he is doing by the impact fuse, This has to be re- precludes the grenadier from
iiat he cannot use a rifle, This has 1ed latively large to be fully effective and carrying a rifle, which has led to the
:: lhe M203 launcher which Ls again a reliable, so the small payload has to be adoptionof theM203.
sngle-shot launcher but thrs time car- offset by the number of grenades fired
::ed under the foregrip of an Ml6Al or at a target, This means multiple fire, ful propellant has arrived on the scene. mount on a vehicle or light vessel. It
M16A2 rifle, This 'pump-action' laun- and the M79 and M203 are both srngle- To fire this an automatic launcher has a much longer range than the sing-
:her was selected for sewice dwingr shot weapons, so a great deal of de- known as the Mk 19 has been de- le-shot weapons.
,he late I 960s and has been in service velopment work was undertaken on signed and it is now in production, Its
ever since, It clips under the dfle so automatrc weapons to fire the 40-mm mechanism is loosely based on that of Specification
jrat it does not interfere in any way grenades, the 12,7-mm (0,S-in) machlne-qun, but Mk t9
-,'ith the normal operation and car- One early effort rn this fleld was the the barrel is very short, Grenades are Calibre: 40 mm (I.575 in)
rlrnq of the weapon, other than the XMI74 which came to nothinq, for in fed into the mechanism from a belt, tength: overall 1,028 m (40,47 in)
additional weight of 1,63k9 (3,59 lb) recent years a development of the and the rate of fire can be as high as Weights: gmn only 35 kg (77 2 lb)
icaded, Now almost every US Army M406 grenade known as the M3B4 with 375 rounds per minute The Mk 19 can Rate offire: 375 rpm
section has at least one man (often increased payload and a more power- be mounted on a tripod or a pedestal Maximum range: 1600 m ( 1,750 yards)

Left: The single- shot, pump-action

M203 is agreatimprovement over
the M79, allowing thegrenadier to
use a rifle.

Right: US Recondos in distinctive .

'Tiger Stripe' fatigues shoot M79s in

Vietnam, where the grenade
launcher was dubbed the'Blooper'
gun after a children's toy.

Below: The M k I I automatic grenade

Iauncher, seen here loaded with a
belt of armour-piercing grenades,
can shoot at a maximum rate of
375 rpm.
Below: AUS Army recruitreceives instructionon theuse of anM203 40-mm
(1.575-in) grenade-launcher fitted to an Ml6Al rifle. The launcher sights can
be seen, as can the method of titting the launcher to the ilfle forcstock. The
norm al use of the M 1 6A I r ifl e is not im peded when the M 2 0 3 is fi tted.

: M30 mortar
contains tactical CS that can be used indications that this is no lonqer posst- bomb 12,2 kg (26.9 lb); smoke bomb
--:-: imencan l06.7-mm (4.2-in) mor-
for a variety of purposes. ble, mainly as a result of sheer old age: I L32 kg (24.95 lb); sas bomb I 1, U ks
-:ls :ave been around for a long time, (24625tb)
For all its weight and general air of many ofthe bartels ate now so worn as
-:: rey were orrqtnally develoPed to
unhandiness the M30 is in use with to be vrrtually smooth-bored. The re- Maximumrange:HE M329A2 6800 m
-: srnoke bombs before World War
-' S:ce then they have been the sub- many armies, mainly as a result of milit- cent purchase ofthe British Ll6 mortar (7,436 yards)
-::: of mariy improvement Program- ary aid hand-outs. However there are took over seven years to get through
the various bloclcng moves, so for the Firing any modern mortar can give
:-- ard gteneral updating of weaPon now signs that a replacement is being
foreseeable future at least the M30 will rise to high-pressure muzzle blast
considered. High on the list is the So1-
--: ammunition, to the point where the
plesent-day version ts no longTer tam lightweight 120-mm (4,72-1n) mor- have to soldier on, tftat can causeserious ear damage,
*c-:-,r.'n as a 4,2-in mortar (except to the tar, but as usual in such foreign arms somortar crews,like this one firing a
purchases this is being either blocked Specification 4.Z-in(107-mm) mortar, keeP their
-i:.irers who use them) but instead is or delayed in favour of an American M30 hands over their ears as the bomb is
-<:r!vn as the 107-mm M30. Calibre: mm(4,2 in) fired. Ear protectors are now usually
The present M30 is still a rifled mor- product, Since there is no American 107,7
Lenqth: barrel 1,524 m (60 in) issued to prevent damage, but
:- *Jrai fires a spin-stabilized projec- equivalent the only recourse is to up-
Weights: in action 3OS kg (672,4 1b); HE soldiers still take precautions.
:le ildeed, many of the crews refer to date the M3O yet again, and there are
-:e( mortars as'cannon', In its present
::rm the M30 no ionqer uses the origin-
. rectangnrlar-shaped baseplate, but
:siead uses a heavy circular one wlth
--le barrel supported on a sinqle col-
'::u. The barrel can rotate on the
-caseplate and it is fitted with a recoil
,-i.steh to absorb what can be quite
:onsiderable firing forces, All this
aCds up to a constderable deQrree so
-rat the complete weapon weighs no
13ss than 305 kar GTZ.4Ib). This is qulte
a lot to get in and out of action in a
:urry, so the size of the mortar crew
and its carrying vehicle are cores-
pondrngly large, Many M30s are in hct
i:ot gEound-mounted at all but are car-
ned on special mountlngs inside Ml13
armoured personnel carriers to fire
lirrough roof hatches,
The ammunition used on the M30
more closely resembles an artrllery
rcund than a mortar bomb, It is of the
rlpe known as semi-fixed, for compo-
nents of the charge can be added or
removed as required, The range of
projectile types has gradually been in-
creased over the years, and there are
now no less than three types ofHE, two
smoke, one illuminalinq and two 'che-
mrcal' rounds, Of the last, one contains
chemrcal warfare agents and there are
about seven or eight possible qases
(although the round remains the
same); the other type is less lethal and

44.2-in(107-mm) mortar is seenln its duration, carefully prepared fire

A 4. 2in ( 1 07 -mm) M3A rifled mortar sinceWorldWar II, and there are
olans to extend its sewice life. Many action during theKoreanWar of the positions sucft as tft is sandbagged
is laid on the r anges at F ort Dix, New 'oI early 1 950 s. As the war was fought firing pit could be PrePared along
Iersev.This mortar has been inUS these mortars are carried in and
'Armi firedlromMl l3 APCs. along static trench lines for much of with shelters for the mortar crew.
service inone form or another

Modern Infantry Support Weapons
RAW stands for Rifleman's Assault
Weapon, and it is an example of the
jeqnee to which the modern soldier
tran carry his own direct-fire support
r,-eapon. Whereas the 40-mm (1.575-
-:) grenades are relatively ltqht
-reapons urth limited explosive ability,
ihe RAW is a much more powerful
weapon that flres a projectile powerful
enough to penetrate tank armow yet
can still be clipped under a normal
service nfle such as the M16Al,
The RAW is a rocket-propelled pro- T he B runswick Rifl em an's Ass au lt
jectile that is fired from under the muz- Weapon (RAW) is mounted under the
zle of a rifle, and is a sphere I40 mm yards), although maximum ranqe ts bination of lasers and electronics, The muzzle of a normal rifle, and is fired
(5.51 in) in diameter containing an ex- some l0 times more than that. The idea rs that as the projectile moves for- by using the rifle in the usualway.
plosive warhead that creates a 'squash RAW has considerable potential in ward it emits a low-power laser beam, The flash igmites the cylindrical
head' effect when striking a tarqet, street fighting, and ifnecessary could If it strikes a structure ahead of the rocket, which then has an effective
This effect is powerful enough to even be used to demolish or damage flightpath, some of the laser energry is range ofabout 200 m (2 19 yards) for
punch holes through walls, struchrres structures such as bridges, reflected back towards the RAW pro- the demolition of large targets.
or even tank armour, It is launched by However, the manufacturer of the jectile, where it rs picked up by a laser
firing a normal ball round foom the rifle RAW (Brunswrck Defense) has sensor. As the projectile moves for- his disposal far more destructive
rn the usual way: as the cartridge gas already taken the weapon one stage ward more energry will be reflected potential than a small field gn-m, ald a-i
leaves the muzzle some of it is diverted further along the development path by and detected until a point is reached mounted on the conventional service
to the RAW launcher under the muzzle makrng it into an even more powerful where the optimum stand-off distance nfle.
to ignite the RAW rocket motor via an antr-armour or anti-structure weapon, is reached, The hollow charge can
igmition cap. As the RAW projectile It is appreciated that the squash-head then ignite and send forward its des- Specification
leaves the short launcher tube it is warhead has its limitations, for the tructle flame jet for maxrmum effect, RAW
propelled by its motor, and flight stabi- stand-off hollow-charge warhead is Needless to say this RAW laser pro- Projectile diameter: 140 mm (5.5 I rn)
lization is achieved by using two side much more destructive werght-for- jectile is strll very much in the deveiop- Lengrth: overail 0,305 m (12 ln)
tube effluxes that spin the projectile in weight. The problem is how to achieve ment stage, as is the entue RAW pro- Weight: overall 2.72 kg (6 Ib):
flight, The projectile trajectory is quite thls stand-off detonation when using a ject. However, it does offer some intri- projectile 1.36 kg(3 lb)
flat to provide the weapon with an spherical projectile. Brunswick has qot guing prospects for future develop- Ranges:maxrmum 2000 m (2, 187
effective ranqe of about 200m (219 around this difficulty by using a com- ment whereby one soldier will have at yards); operational 200 m (2 l9 yards)


8-300 light support weapon

The Israeli 8-300 light support weapon An Israeli soldier takes aim with the
rs produced by Israel Military Indus- 8-300 light anti-armour weapon. This
tries and was originally designed as a weapon has a calibre of 82 mm
light anti-armour weapon, However (3.2 in) and fires a rocket projectile
the warhead has a maxrmum diameter that is attached to the rear of the
of only 82 mm (3.23 in), which is now Iauncher in a sealed container. The
regarded as too small to have much 8-300 is effective only against light
effect on the thick armour of main bat- armoured vehicles.
tle tanks. Thus the 8-300 is currently
used against [qht armoured vehicles
and as a strongpoint demolition three rounds.
weapon at ranges up to about 400 m The 8-300 has attracted a great deal
(437 yards) of interest outside Israel, especially in
The 8-300 breaks down into two the USA where the US Marine Corps
components: one is the launcher, has developed its own special version.
which may be fitted with a variety of This is known to them as the Shoulder-
sighting optrons and rs reusable; the launched Multipurpose Assault
oiher component is a sealed container Weapon (SMAW) The SMAW dlffers
for the missile. This is srmply clipped from the basic 8-300 in several ways,
onto the rear of the launcher and is not the least of which is the inclusion of
r.mmediately ready to fire. The laun- a spotting rifle combined wtth a new
cher unit is fitted u,'rth a shoulder rest telescopic sight, The spotting rifle is a
and a small bipod, and is carried in a version ofthat used on the British LAW
wooden box when not required for ac- B0 antr-tank weapon, and fires bullets
tion, The rocket has a HEAT warhead that provide a flash indicatron ofwhere
with good anti-armour effect, but it is they strike the target. Used in conlunc-
equally efficient when flred agarnst tion with the Amerrcan-developed
concrete or brick-built bunkers; it will telescopic sight this provides an accu-
also demolish earth and timber struc- rate indicatron of aim. The rocket fired
tures, Thus it can be considered as a by the SMAW is also an American de-
very usefu1 infantry support weapon velopment, still enclosed in a sealed
that can also supply protection against container but fitted with a multi-
armoured vehicles, rather than as an pupose warhead as the SMAW will
anti-tank weapon that can be used be used by the US Marines more as a
against structures, it is also relatively
light and handy, weighing B kg
117,64 Ib) ready for use, the rocket sea-
led in its container weighing 4,5k9
:9.92 1b), The sealed rockets are car-
red in a specral backpack holding

The I sraeli 8-300 light anti-armour

projectile is connected to the
Iauncher still inside its pre-packed
and sealed cbn tainer; only the
{orward section of the launcher in
kont of the support leg is re-usable.
The weight loaded js 8 l<g ( I 7.64 lb).
8-300 light support weapon (continued)

bunker-buster than as an anti-armour yet been accepted for servrce by the

weapon. The US Marines limit the Israeli Defence Forces,
operational range of the SMAW to
250 m (273 yards) although the rocket Specification
will travel farther than that, The SMAW B-300
is heavier than the basic 8-300, mainly Calibre:82 mm (3.23 in)
as a result of the spotting rifle and the Lengrths: loaded 1.35 m (53. 15 rn);
sightinq equlpment, and the multr- launcher only 0,755 m (29,7 in)
pwpose rocket ts much heavter than Weights: launcher unloaded 3.5 kg
the original. The SMAW ts now in pro- (7,71 ]b)andloadedB ks(17,64 lb);
duction for the US Marines at the rocket container 4, 5 kq (9,92 lb); Originally designedas aninfantry anti-tankweapon, the 8'300 has been
McDonnell Douglas facility in Titus- rocket 3 kg (6.6I lb) adapted by the uS Marines as a'bunker buster'. Certainly its 82-mm (3.2-in)
ville, Florida, whereas there is no posi- Range:400 m (437 yards) HEAT warhead, although too small to deal with MBTs, would have
trve evidence that the basic 8-300 has Armow penetration: 400 mm (15,75 in) disagreeable effects on the occapants of a pillbox.


Soltam heavy mortars
At its manufacturing facility near Hatfa
Soltam produces a fulI range of mor-
tars, but it is with its heavy mortars that
the company has made its name, Sol-
tam produces two 120-mm (4.72-in)
models and one of a massive 160-mm
(6.3-in), All these models are large
enough to wafiant their own wheeled
travelhng carriages, thouqh ofthe i20-
mm mortars one is described as 'llght'
and the other as'standard', The hqht
model is designed for infantry use, and
rs only carried into action on its
wheeled carrraqe, and can be towed
by manpower alone, The standard
model is much more substantial and is
rntended for towrng into action.
In range terms there is little to
choose betvveen the two Soltam I20- The 1 20-mm (4.7 2 -in) Soltam
mm models, although the standard standard (heavy) mortar k shown
model has a slight edge. They both f,re ready for towingwiththe towingeye
the same bombs and both can be secured to the muzzle. The carriage
mounted in armoured personnel car- also carries tools, spare Parts and
riers if required. The Israeli Defence other items for the mortar. The IMI
Forces use the MI13 'Zelda' for this illuminating round is shownwith six
purpose, although halftracks have also propelling charges.
been used. The main advantage of
both models is their considerable pro- abledestructivepotentral, andthe 120- Betow:TheSottamM-66 160-mm(6.3-in)mortarweighs 1700-kg_($l!8 lb)in
jectile weight: a 120-mm Soltam mortar mm is thus useci wrth increasing fre- thefiringposition,somanyof themhavebeenfittedtomoditiedM4Sherman
bomb weishs 12.9 kq (28.44 lb), of quency instead of artillery for close- chassis.-fheM-66firesa40-kg(9p]b)bombcontainingS kg(11 lb)of TNTtoa
which 2.3ks (5,07 Ib) is the TNT r'ange iire s.,pport of infantry, especial- maximum range-of 9600 m (10,500 yards).lts 50 per cent zone is given as 0.75
payload, These bombs have consider- 1y by light rapid-response forces, It rs to L5 percentoIrange.

Soltam heaw mortars (continued) Modern Infantry Support Weapons
:rr this reason that the US Marine cheap). Each M-66 has a crew of sx to flring and lifted out aqtarn after =::::-; :. ':a:-::- -=l <;
Oorps is now actively considering the eight men, and getlrng the weapon tn process that requlres at least fou] r.e:- c:rc <q:2. =i ,i.
hght model for potential service and out of action is hard work. To assrst The projectile frred is prodiqno'.:s Maximum rarge: lCli n
,although it remains to be seen if the matters the M-66 uses its wheeled weighing no less than 40 kg (BB. 185 lb).
model rs ever accepted by the US travelling carriage to support the With all this weiqht involved it com- 120-mm standard
T?easury and the Congness), weapon in action, and all the elevation es as no surprise to learn that self- Calibre: I?amm(4.72n)
With the Soltam l60-mm mortar one and depression is achieved usinq a propelled mountrnqs are often used. Lengrth: barrel2. 154 n (81 8 ;-,
s really gettrng into the healry bracket, single column, As the barrel is too long The Israeli Defence Forces use con- Weights: rn actron 245 kg (tr11 .c-
The usual model is known as the M-66, for muzzle loadrnq a breech-loading verted M4 tank chassis to carry these bomb 12,9 ks (28.44 lb)
and is so largte and healry that it really system has to be used, and this is so mortars, but many units still tow thelr Maximumrange:8500 m (9.23: -'---
comes into the artillery category, But arranqed that the barrel can be tilted M-66s in and out of actron in locations
many armed forces, including those of forward for loading before returntng to where the M4s could not go. M-66
the Warsaw Pact nations, use this the correct angle ofelevation for firing, Calibre: 160 mm (6.3 Ln)
calibre for infantry support in place of This involves a rather complicated Specification Length: barrel 3.066 m (120.7 L:-,
conventional artillery as it is. overall balancinq system that adds much to 120-mmlight Weights: in action 1700 kg (3 74E
much srmpler and lighter to produce the overall weight, The circular base Calibre: 120 mm(4.72 in) bomb 40 kq lb)
(BB. 185

and use (in a way, artrllery on the plate has to be manually placed before Length: barrel 1.758 m (69.2 in) Maximumrange: 9600 m (i0.438 -"--^.

Kl n'itmvz0O multiple grenade-launcher

The rifle grrenade launched from the TheltalianAP|AV 700 is anunusual
muzzle of a normal servrce rlfle is still weapon that can fire up to three rifle
used by many nations, but is not a grenades to ranges of up to 700 m
fashionable weapon for several (765 yards). It can fire anti-personnel .. .,t;iijlii
reasonsr hvo of these are that firinq a or anti-armcur grenades, and can be \.. :1:i
fitted tovehicles or light craft as well

rifle grenade can often cause con-

siderable recoil that damages the rifle, asbeing used on the ground
and that aiminq is not always verY mounting, shownhere from therear
accurate. In recent yeals the previous andside. u\,
use ofspecral propelling cartridges for .::j'
flring grenades has been partially re-
ptaced by bullet traps in the tails of
qrenades to absorb the forces of a
fired bullet and use them to propel the
Q'renade, Again, accurate aimingiis not
always possible.
In Italy this has led to the develop-
ment of a special infantry support
weapon known as the AP/4V700. De-
veloped by Luigi Franchi, thrs is tn
effect three rifle-grenade launchers
set side by side on a common base-
plate or launcher. The flnned rifle gre-
nades fit over spigots, and standard
ball cartridges (loaded into the breech
mechanisms at the base of each spiqlot)
are used to launch them. The bullets
are fired directly rnto the tails of the mm (0.3-in) or 5,56-in (0.219-in) ball sive grenade has a hollow-charqe war- blockhc':s:.
trons at outlying or gruard
grenades, and the flash of their ignition cartridges, but the spigot will accept will eventually
head, other types that can be foreseen, especially ;,:-+::
is used to light a delay unit that in tum only one or the other. If required they be available include illuminating, pre-plotted ranges have been icgqe:
rgnitesasmall rocketmolorto lncrease can be fired from conventional rrfle smoke and practice. for use when requred. The launc:::
the range of the weapon. Using this launchers. The grenades used with the The AP/AVZOO rs still under de- can be carried on a special back-oack
system it is possible to fire the grre- AP/AV700 have hollow-charge war- velopment but is now at the stage with another carryrng Lhe gnenaci:-.
nades to a ranere of 700 m (765 yards). It heads that can penetrate up to i20 mm where production is imminent, When it
rs possible to aim the them farrly accur- (4,72 in) ofarmour, but they also have a does reach sewice several appllca- Specification
ately and consistently, for in flight they considerable blast and anti-personnel tions are possrble, It could be used in AP/AV700
are stabilized by therr fins and also by effect. The three-spigot launchet can the place of orthodox hght mortars by Lengrth: spiqots 0,3 m (1 l,B1 Ln)
gases vented from the rocket to add be r.rsed to fire the grenades one at a infantry units, and could also be Weights:launcher 11 kq (24.25lb)
further spin ro the grenade. time or in one salvo for greater effect, It mounted on light armoured or soft-skin grenade0 93 kg(2.05 Ib); gnenaci:
It is possibte to fire the grenades is possible to fire srx or seven salvoes vehicles. It could also be used on light warhead 0,46 kg (1.01 lb)
using either the standard NATO 7,62- per minute, Although the main offen- patrol or landing craft and applica- Maximum range: 700 m (765 yarcis)

m nbs-Iz Plamya
The 3O-mm (1,18-in) AGS-I7 PlamYa hand side of the weapon, When firing, AGS-17 has been used widely for flre keep his head dov,n during the e'::.r
(flame) is an automatic grenade- the AGS-17 is mounted on a trlpod and suppression during anti-gmernlla op- attack phases, The main drawback .:
launcher that flrst appeared in 1975 can be aimed using a dial sight at the erations, Among the gmerrillas it has the AGS-17 appears to be us '.r'e.;::
and is now issued widely throughout rear of the weapon body. The operat- earned a reputation for nastrness, for the launcher and tripod toqe-.::
the Soviet armed forces down to com- ing system rs sLmple blowback, part of largely because the gnenades deton- weigh more than 53 kg t I 17 Ib, ;'':-----.
pany level, At that level it is usually the action operatrng a pawl mechan- ate with a fearful blast, But what has means it has to have a crew oi at :ea:.
ssued at the rate of two to each infantry ism to move the ammunition belt. Fir- impressed Western obsewers is the two men and probably more lc --:ir.'
Jompany, and s one of lhe main com- ins can be elther direct, or hiqh angle weapon's range, which can be as much extra ammunition,
pany support weapons for the assault to provrde more range, as 1750 m (I,9 14 yards), although oper-
phase of an operation, When it first The AGS-I7 has been used in action ationally it is not often used at ranges
appeared the AGS-17 caused quite a in Afghanistan, from where much of the greater than 1200 m (1,312 yards). This Specification
stu in Westernweapon design cucles, informatton regardrng the weapon has means that the weapon has a much AGS-t7
:cr at that time there was no Western emanated. It has been r.rsed not only on hrgher potential for fire response than Calibre:30 mm (1,18 in)
equivalent, although one has rts tripod mounting but on special heli- a mortar, and its automatic rate of fire Lensth:0,84 m (33 in)
appeared since, copter mounts, and there appears to can soon compensate for the small pro- Weights: launcher about 18 kqt
The AGS- 17 fires small HE grrenades be some evidence that the AGS-17 has lectile payload, In a conventional tripod about 35 ks (77.2 -.
(39,7 lb);
at a rate ofjust one a second, The grre- taken the place of lhe main gun on attack thls fire could be dlrected srenade 0,35 kq (0,77 lb)
:ades are fed into the weapon from a some Soviet armoured personnel car- rapidly at defending posts, and as the Maximum range: 1750 m ( 1,I 14 '.-- I '
Z3-round belt, usually using a belt riers and reconnaissance vehicles grrenade is an area weapon rather than
:nm that is prominent on the right- such as the BMD, In Afghanistan the a point weapon rt can make an enemy
'Flamdin Afghanisfan
The Soviet intervention in Afghanistan
has seen much in theway of innovation
in weaponry. One system which came to
prominence was the AGS- I 7 automatic
grenade launcher, which Proved
extremely potent. Yet far from being a
new weapon, the AGS- 17 was in
widespread Soviet service, and had
been since 1975.

The AGS-17 (Automaticheskiy Granatmyot

Stankoviy, or tripod-mounted automatic gre-
nade-launcher) is known to the Soviet soidiers
who use it as the Plamya (flame). The Afghan
gmerriilas have learned the name, and apply it
to what they beheve to be the most dangerous
weapon they face from the Soviet riflemen.
Since rts introduction rn 1975, the AGS-17 has
given Soviet motorized rifle companies a capa-
bilrty of effective long-range area flre.
The AGS-17 is a company-leve} weapon A AGS-17 sections are used as the base of fire While not a lightweight weapon, the AGS - I 7
as part of the company's mounted or drs- weighs considerably less than a heavy-calibre
section of two AGS-]7s was flrst added to BTR- madhine-gun, and widespread issue throughout
60Pb-equipped motorized rifle companies tn mounted advance, Because they can also be
the Sovie[ army has provided real firepower at
hrgh-readrness divislons By 1981 BMP- easily lifted ln a heiicopter, AGS-17s are often companylevel.
equipped motorized nfle companies also had used, according to Aighan reports, in the com-
AGS-I7 sections, Each section is made up of a mando-style heliborne attacks that have in
sergeant section-leader, armed with a Kalash- I984-5 become increasingly prevalent
mkov assault rifle, and the two glun teams, each throughout Afghanistan, The Soviets put round grenades can demolish the sangars (rock
of a pistol-armed gunner who carries the AGS- a village a cordon inserted by helicopter, de- breastworks) from behtnd which the Afghans
17 sight and tube, a Kalashnrkov-armed assis- ploy AGS-17s in cover, then move in. If they engage Soviet troops. Their high elevatton
tant gunner who carries the tripod and bnCounter resistance the AGS-l7s provide makes them useful against high ground. Its
ammunitton, and a Kalashnikov-armed supporting fire, Thus, while not a light weapon, fragmentation shells grve the AGS-17 an effec-
ammunition bearer, The ammunition bearers the AGS-17 rs frequently used as part of forces tive area fire-suppression capability, especial-
are not inteqrat parts of the AGS- I7 section, but undertaking heliborne assaults or extended ly deadly against fiqhting positions lacking
rather are provided from the rest ol the moto- dismounted operations, both required for overhead cover,
rized rifle company. effective counter-insurgency tactics in the The AGS-17 has become important in Afgha-
In action, an AGS-17 section tries to deploy Afghan mountains, nistan because ofthe long range ofmany ofthe
dismounted and under cover, To provide the In Afghanrstan, Soviet units have been up- firefights. The 5.45-mm (0.21S-ln) AKS-74
grenades with sufficient clearance, the teams gnrnned with additional AGS- 17s. In some cases assault rifle, with which most Soviet motorized
deploy a distance to the rear of the cover i1 appears that the sections have been doubled
greater than twice the cover's height. The tw9 ln siie They are also used ln conjunction wlth
launchers will normally be placed in a line, 10 battalion-leve] 82-mm (3 23-in) AM Vasilek
to 20 m (33 to 66 ft) apart. The ammunition bear- automatic mortars, which also provide mobile,
ers provide close-range security with their responsive, and decentralized HE flrepowgltg
Kalashnikovs, support Soviet riflemen, The AGS-I7s VOF-Z

Above: The fairly complex opticalstghl js

necessary onaweaponwith apotential range of
I 7 50 m d,9 1 4 yards), although firing beyond
1 200 m ( 1,3 I 2 yards) seldom occurred
Left : T he AGS- I 7 operates by blowback, the
propellant forcing the bolt back while shooting the
grenade through the barrel.

Modern Infantry Support Weapons
Twoviews of theAGS-17 show the 30-mm barrel
surrounded by cooling fins together with the 30'
rounddrun magazine, and the eyepiece of the
sight, the hand grips and the trigger (the grooved
plate betti/een thegrips), which is pressed
inwards to fire.

from a misfeed could lead to a premature cie-

tonation, although there have been no kro;,:-
reports of such detonations,
AGS-]7s have been used in a number ::
ways. The AGS-17 has a short barrel and large
rectangular receiver with a circular maqtazll:
feeding into its right side. There is a sna-
optical sight and an elevation quadrant on -::
left rear of the weapon, The AGS-17 is norma r-
mounted on a light, low tripod.
The standard VOF-Z 30-mm HE fragmer.:a-
tion grenade uses Soviet A-iX-l explostve a
compound of 94 per cent RDX and 6 per ce:-.
rrflemen are armed, has a maximum effective captured or destroyed the four AGS-17s. After wax, Also reported rs a beehive round, i;r:-
range of only 400 m (437 yards). The 7.62-mm Massoud's attack had penetrated the position, tioning as a massive shotgiun round loaded -,', --:-
(0.3-in) PKM general purpose machine-gnrn the Soviets realized that Rukha couid not be steel flechettes (small, arrow-like proiecues.
(each squad has one or two) would splatter its defended and withdrew their garrison, Other ammunition types include an incenita:--
fire on the sangars without harming the Several AGS- i7s have come out of Afghanis- round, a traininq round and possrbly a Hli--
Afghans behind them, Snipers (one per pla- tan and been delivered to Western intelli- round,
toon, armed with a 7,62-mm SVD Dragunov gence services, In Angola, South African forces The standard vehicle mount for the AGS- - - ' .
rifle) have proved of only limited effectiveness, have captured a number of AGS-17s in the external. The weapon is attached to the t'i-rr=:
and the Soviets had to mass them in dedicated hands of SWAPO and Angolan army forces. tops of BTR-60Pb and BTR-70 APCs and B\l:
anti-sniper squads. By default, the AGS-17 The A-fghans have also captured several AGS- aine:
infantry fighting vehicles, and can be
(able to elevate to hrt hilltops, able to demolish lZs, some of which have been used in action and fired from under armour, altho:;:-
sanErars, and able to be carried anywhere a asainst their former owners, Shafiuallah, the apparently it must be reioaded by a cre-,',-
rifleman can walk or be inserted by helicopter) well-known gnrerrilla commander in the Koh-i- member opening the hatch; a dangerors pt:-
has assumed additronal importance, Safi area near Bagram air base until he was cedure when opposing an enemy armed ',';-:-
The Soviets also use AGS-l7s well entren- killed in action in April 1985, had at least six 7.Z-mm (0.303-rn) Lee Enfields and capab-e :-
ched, to defend high-value objectives, They operational AGS-17s snrping Soviet soldiers 730 m (800 yards) a''-' a-.-
are deployed as part ofcompany strongpoints, There are limitations, however, to the use the Externally mounted AGS- 17s would be par.-::-
or in perimeter defences. In 1982, Ahmad Shah gmerrillas make of captured AGS- 17s. It was not Iarly useful on the 73-mm
(2 B7-in) car:-::--
Massoud's guerrilla forces in the Panjshir va1- used by the pre-war Afghan army, unlike other armed BMP, whose main armament s lrli-.::
ley were confronted by the defences of the Soviet-built weapons, and so the cadre of ex- in elevation, a drawback in mounta.n::s
town of Rukha, a Soviet strongpoint that in- soldiers on whom the gnrerrillas rely for much of Afghanistan.
cluded four AGS-1?s, Realizing that the AGS- their weapons expertise cannot provide help Some photographs from Afghanistan s:-:','.'
I7s were the key to Soviet defence of this most on their use and maintenance. The Afghans BMD airborne iniantry combat vehicles
important strongpoint, Massoud organized an also reported that the tripod is inadequate for what may be an AGS- 17 mounted in place :",--:-
- ---.
attack reminiscent of North Vietnamese tactics the recoil of the weapon, and moves around if 2A20 73-mm cannon, the sort of field mod:':=
(breaching the defensrve wire and minefields, not properly secured with sandbags, This tron that has ample precedents in US prac:-:=
then attacking at night into the perimeter) but would certalnly increase ballistic dispersion, in Vietnam, There are also unconfirmei t=-
which was alien to the usual Afghan style of atready high because of the nature of the ports of BTR-60Pb APCs with long-barre--ej
hit-and-run attacks, Casualties were heavy on weapon. It is also thought that the design of the versions of the AGS- l7 in their turret in pia:e : :
both sides, but as the Afghans withdrew beicre feed mechanism of the AGS- 17 is flawed in that the usual 14.5-mm (0.57-in) heavry mach-:=-
dawn and the helicopters arrived, they had it is possrble that a stubbed round resulting gmn.
A long-barrelled version ol the AGS - - '
mounted on Soviet Mtl Mi-8 'Hip-E'atiacx:=-
copters in Afghanistan. Its characier.s:-:.
would make itan excellentweaponlor heil::; -

ter use, simllar to the 40-mm gre:ai=-

launchlng system on many Amerlcan Bel- .:-: -- -
Cobra gunshrps. The baihstrc dispersal :: ,:-:
AGS- 17 makes it bastcaily an area fue ',r,
e a-c - :-
and wrth the ammunition supply that cc*l .3
carrled on a helicopter it could suppress s'-:-
able areas, probably to prepare lanCtng -::-:s
for hellborne assaults. This weapon i:e: :-:.
however appear lo be par:,cutat-'.' ,'. .:='
spread and.its use may be hmr:ec-: -= -='.
squadrons. Ar least one 'Hip-L ar:+t ','.-.-.-- =
30-mm grenadeJauncher has beea sl--:. i:-,',:-
in eastern Afqhanistan,

Ammunition is fed into the AGS - I 7 from th e rig : :

Amongst the types so far known to have been
used, HE and flechette are prominent, althougi .:-
incendiary roundis likely, and itwould be
surprising if thevercionmounted on the BMD
infantry combatvehicle were not capable of i:::.;
U Houi"t mortars
The Soviet army has used a large num- Right: Amongst the large amount
ber ofmortar types over the years, and Sovie lsuppft'e d e quip m en t
the surprlsing thing is that many of uncovered by American troops on
them dating from before World War il Grenada, crates of 82-mm Model 0-
are stiil rn widespread sewtce. These 832 rounds for the modernized
mortars range in calibre from 50 mm Model I mortarwere common.
(1.97 1n) to 160 mm (6,3 in) via 82 mm
(3,23 1n), 107 mm (4,21 in) and 120 mm
(4,72tn), All these cahbres are stan-
dard throughout the Warsaw Pact na-
tions, but the 120-mm calibre is now
the most vndely used, The Soviets pro-
duced one of the flnest of all World
War II mortars with their Model 1938
and the Model 1943 derived from it,
and both of these have been widely
copied over the years; many modern
120-mm moftars owe much to both
weapons, The large 160-mm weapons
are used by Soviet army divtsional sup-
port batteries instead of conventional
artillery: they are breech-loaded
weapons of gneat lengrth and weight,
and the latest model is known as the
There is an oddity among these Left: Although the Soviet 82-mm
(3.2 3-in) Vasilek automatic mortar
Soviet mortars, a weapon known as the
Avtomaticheskiy Minomet Vasilek has been in seruice with the Red
(Little Vasili automatrc mortar), This is Army since I 97 I, very little is known
still something of a mystery, for of it and this illustration is
although it was introduced into Soviet provisional.ltcan be mounted on the
army servrce as far back as l97l few artillery-type mounting seen herc, ot
illustrations and even less data have it can be used on armoured vehicles
been released concerning rt specifica- such as the light BMD carriers.
tion or tactical use, It is known that its
calibre is 82 mm, and that one version
uses a mountarn gnrn carriagte that can
be towed by a light vehicle, Once em-

placed it can be used either in the tery, lt does not seem that
direct-fire role as a conventional gnrn every battalion uses this weapon,
or in the high-angle-fire mortar role, In however, and only foont-line battalions
action the carriage wheels are raised are known to be equipped. A Vasilek
offthe gnound and the weapon rests on battery has six weapons.
a firing baseplate. It is not yet known The old World War II 50-mm mor-
exactly how the ammunition is fed into tars are now very little used by the
the weapon but some form of clip or Warsaw Pact nattons, but may be en-
belt feed can be surmised, It rs known countered in use by other armed
that HE fragmentation rounds and hol- forces, especially'freedom fighter'
low-charge rounds can be flred, the formations. The only B 1-mm mortar still
latter againsl armoured ta.rgets, in widespread use is an updated ver-
There are also several versions of sion of the Model 1937, while the 107-
the Vasilek that can be mounted on mm Model 1938 is now used by a few
light armoured vehicles, usually rn Soviet army mountain umts and some
some form of turret. Each Soviet army resewe units. However, the 120-mm
infantry battalion, mechanized or Model 1938 and Model 1943 are still in
otherwrse should have a Vasrlek bat- wrdespread use, and the Model 1943 is
still being produced rn China as the
Type 53,

Model 1943
Calibre: I20 mm(4,72 in)
Length: barrel 1.854 m (73 in)
Weights: in action 275 kq (606.3 1b); HE
fragrmentation bomb 16 kq (35,27 lb)
Maximum range: 5700 m (6,233 yards)

Left: The large Soviet I 60-mm (6.3-in)

Model I 943 mortar is a breech'
loaded weapon and is often used in
lieu ofartillery to supply tire support
toinfantry units at divisional level.
The bomb fired by this mortar
weighs 40.8 kg (89.95 lb), which
makes it a formidable weapon at the
short ranges at which it has to be

Armed Forces of the Worid

Sodet Strategi

ln wartime the Strategic Rocket Forces (SRF) oper-

ate independently of the Soviets' other armed ser-
vices, the SRF's commander-in-chief being sub-
ordinated directly to the Soviet supreme comman-
der, who reports to the Defence Council which
makes the final decision on the mass use of the
nuclear weapons. The SFF's commander is re-
sponsible not only for the operational control of the
force in war and peace, but also for lts improvement
and development and for ensuring that it is up to
strength and properly equipped at all times.
The SRF was established as an independent ser- The USSR currently deploys nearly I ,400 silo capability(throughtheuseof flyingcomn aic ::- =
vice in December "l 959. With an active manpower launchers, eachwithone missile and anunknown to direct the launching of missiles from re_c -:-:=
total of 41 5,000 and a further 520,000 in reserve, the number of reJoads. Here an S,S-9(CBM is loaded and divisions whose command facilities f a.,. :::-
SRF's commander has under his control three Rock-
into its silo during the late 1960s. TfieSS-9 bases destroyed. The area of deployment of a roc<e. :'-. ,
were hardeneC in the I970s to increase
et Armies with intercontinental ballistic missiles suwivability before SS-l8s were installed. isverylarge', and takes in thousands olsq;a-: -
(lCBMs), three independent Rocket Corps. 10 to 12 of usually poorly populated land.
Rocket Divisions, three Iarge missile test ranges. The 10 or 12 separate rocket divisions "=
and a substantial number of scientific research, mis- in some circumstances, monthly bases, an operational strategic reseTve of the SRF. S:-: :'
sile construction and trainlng establishments. emergency missile repair battery, and a guard com- these divisions are equipped with the hrgr:es: . : :
The basic rocket army consists of 10 Rotket Divi- pany which uses some 50 guard dogs, extensive missiles in the Soviet inventory, whilst otre:-. -:.:
sions, Each of these divislons comprises 7,000 to anti-personnel minefields and barbed-wire obsta- standard missile types and can be moved as ^:::::
8,000 men, and is subdivided into 10 Rocket Regim- cles. The commander and his staff are located in a to any part of the Soviet homeland in order to .::,,-
ents and a technical base, the latter consisting of hardened underground command post Jrom which their vulnerability. The three independel:'::.=.
some 3,000 to 4,000 men and designed to carry out the duty operations team maintains direct com- corps are used to strengthen the forces o::r: ---:=
thetransport, malntenance, replacement, repairand munications links by telephone, radio and satellile main military commands (the Western, So;:- .'.:..-
servicing of the regiment's missiles. The regiment with the divisional commander, the rocket army ern and Far Eastern Directions) and are ai :^: : s
itself can have between one and i0 launchers de- commander, the SRF commander and the Soviet posal of the relevant commanders-in-chie:. - ,'. -: -
pending upon the type of missile with which it is supreme command authority. If by accident the corps (or just some of its three to four a,: =: =
equipped. lts strength lies between 250 and 400 command post is put out of action in times of peace, rocket divisions), can be used in suppcr-: :' .--
men, and the regiment ls tasked with simple an alternative vehicle-mounted mobile command advancing units in any of the Directions' i.re3.-:- -'
maintenance of the missiles, defending them in post unit is activated; in time of war or in periods of operation. The corps are equipped wrth t': :::-
their silos and launching thern as and when re- extreme tension, both units are operational to en- ational/strategic type of missrle which ia s -:: -=
quired. For these duties the regimental commander sure that missrle launch control is avallable at all medium-range ballistic missile (MRB\t .'. '
has available a headquarters staff, about five duty times. The headquarters of the army is responsible termediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM ca::;:- ::
launch teams which are rotated on eitherweekly, or for the co-ordination of its divisions and has the in Western terminology. These weapons aa^ : -:'
be fired from a hardened srlo (or fixec s:'- .----
pad in the case of the former SS-4 'Sa^:: -' :=
launched f rom wheeled transpcri:' :-:::- -
launchers (TELs) in tne case o' t"e -:: = ::--.
The SS-20 force is grouped nto reg -:- -: -'- -=
TELs that are situated at a centra ..^'.'. .-:
maintenancebase. lntimesof imm ne-- ---' -..-=
individual launchers are intended :c : s:=-.: :
w'dely spaced and presrveyeo la--:- j .:; -: :--
sure survivability and the nin mrn
tialguidancedatafeo ntoeach -s: : --:: .--:-
wheeled veh cles would also be t:i::--. : -: -: -
rying a reload round ard lne orre-< . -'':' ' : '':
launch conlrol rnit, lest equipnc": l.':': '- .- '
comrrunicat ons sysrems. l^ the :-. .::- - - :. -
has been revealed that some o' ii-e SS 2: .=-:-
A third-generation missile, tfi e 5S-9 Scarp .

appeared infivevariants, one ofwhich. Lhe S5-3

Mod 4, was the first Soviet multiple re-entq,' ;'e::cJe
(MRV), carrying three 3.5 -megaton
warheads. Nearly 300 SS-9s were deployed ::
underg:round silos.
Armed Forces of the World Soviet Strategic Rocket Forces t
^:ve been converted to house the new mobile SS-
2- ICBM, which uses the same TEL vehicle lt is
<e!y that these missiles are assigned to the SRF's
:perational reserve as a replacement for more
.:lnerable systems.
There are at present nine fields of the hot
arnched SS-'1 '1 'Sego' lightweight ICBM with 520
r ssiles, one field of the SS-13 'Savage' hot-
:rnched lightweight ICBM with 60 rounds, two
'ields of the cold-launched SS-1 7 lightweight ICBM
with 150 rounds, six fields of the cold-launched
neavyweight SS-18 ICBM with 308 rounds, and four
rields of the hot-launched lightweight SS-19 ICBM.
The SRF continually practises its command and con-
:rol iaunch arrangements under all types of scenar-
os, and has a policy whereby a missile is periodically
taken on a random basis from any of the rocket
armies to be launched under 'operational' condi-
iions to check the forces' effectiveness.
For a protracted nuclear war the Soviets have
made certain that their SRF has sufficlent war re-
serves, protection for its personnel and key equip-
ment, and the f acility to reload most of its launchers.
They have stockpiled extra missiles, propellants and
warheads throughout the USSR, and can thus refur-
bish and reload most types of mrssile silo within a
matter of days. For the contingency that a silo has
been contaminated by radioactive material from a
nuclear burst. facilities have been built in each ICBM
f ield to allow decontaminatlon to be undertaken. All
communications systems throughout the SRF are
nardened against the electro-magnetic pulse effect
jrom nuclear blasts, and are duplicated (or even i
triplicated in some instances) to ensure that com-
mand and control capability remains intact.
lntelligence of any possible Western nuclear sur-
prise attack is provided not only by human agents
but also by a satellite-based ICBM/SLBM launch-
detection network coupled to a ring of missile
launch-detection over-the-horizon and phased-array
radar installations throughout the USSR. Any offen-
sive action undertaken by the SRF would be co-
ordinated with the Soviet navy's SSBN fleet and the 3. 150 SS-17s (20 Mod 2 with a range of 1000 km/
P recursor of the SS- i 6 and SS- 0 mobile I RB M s w as

strategic bombers of the USSR's air forces. lt is also 6,835 miles and a single 6-megaton warhead, and during the I ate / 960s
tft e SS-X- J 5, which was tes ted

possible that in a limited nuclear exchange. a num- 130 Mod 3 with a range of 10000 km/6,214 miles but not deployed for operational sewice. Mobile
ballistic missiles are easier to conceal from
ber of the ICBMs would very likely be used in and four 750-kiloton yield MIRV warheads);
surveillance: a grcat advantage to a power
theatre roles against reduced-range targets. lt is 4.308 SS-'l Bs (26 Mods 1 and 3 with a range of engaged in disarmament negotiations.
also probable that a number of the ICBM f ields may 12000kmlT,456 miles or 'l 6000 km/9,942 miles
be protected by a llmlted anti-ballistic misslle (ABM) and a single 2O-megaton or 27 megaton warhead year or so; the SS-20 is used in the version with
network comprising SA-5 'Gammon' and the later respectively and 282 Mod 4 with a range of 1 1000 5000-km (3,107-mile) range and three l50-kiloton
SA-1 2 'Gladiator' SAMs. km/6,835 miles and 10 500-kiloton MIRV war- MIRV warheads; and
The current force of ICBMs stands at 1,398 silo heads); and 2. Some 2242200-km (1,367-mile) range SS-4'San-
launchers with one misslle in each, plus an unknown 5. 360 SS-1 9s (40 Mod 2 with a range of 10000 km/ dal' MRBMs with single 950-kiloton warheads de-
number of reloads and mobile SS-25 TELs. The 6,214 miles and a single 1O-megaton warhead and ployed in two or three fields of hardened silos and
actual breakdown is believed to be: 320 Mod 3 with a range of 10000 km/6,214 miles soft launch pads in the western USSR; the 'Sandals'
1.520 SS-1 1 'Segos'(100 Mod 1 with a range of and six 550-kiloton MIRV warheads). are gradually being phased out.
BB00 km/5,468 miles and a single 950-kiloton war- The force of operational strategic missiles stands at
First seen on parade in 1968, the second-
head, and 420 Mod 3 with a range of 9600/5,965 over 600 rounds with a breakdown of :
genera tion SS- 8'S as in' w as a development of the
miles and three 200-kiloton MRV warheads); 1 . 387 SS-20 mobile launchers in six f ields located in 55-6 and was gru ided by radio command. Carrying
2.60 SS-13'Savages'(all Mod 2 with a range of the Soviet Far East, ln central Asla, and in the west a i-megatonwarhead, ithad two stagesanda
8000 km/4,970 mlles and a slngle 600-kiloton war- ern USSR on the European side of the Ural moun- range of 1 2000 km (7,400 miles) but was deployed
nead); tains; more are scheduled to be deployed rn the next only in small numbers.