Army's new guided mortar round strives to be accurate within a meter

U.S. Army Rangers assigned to 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, fire a 120 mm mortar during a tactical training exercise on Camp Roberts, Calif., Jan. 30, 2014. (Photo: Pfc. Nathaniel Newkirk/U.S. Army)

U.S. Army Rangers assigned to 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, fire a 120 mm mortar during a tactical training exercise on Camp Roberts, Calif., Jan. 30, 2014. (Photo: Pfc. Nathaniel Newkirk/U.S. Army)

The adage that close only counts in horseshoes and 120mm mortar rounds may be coming to an end as the Army is planning a new round that puts an emphasis on precision.

The Army’s new 120mm High Explosive Guided Mortar, or HEGM program, ended its solisication period in January and aims to replace the current Accelerated Precision Mortar Initiative– capable of landing a shell within a 10 meter circular area of probablity– with one able to go less than 1 meter.

While APMI, developed during the opening stages of the conflict in Afghanistan, was revolutionary for the time, especally for troops in isolated areas without organic artillery support, the Army thinks the new round can do better.

“We’re going to improve upon the existing technology and incorporate next-generation upgrades into HEGM, such as increased threat counter-measures and enhanced maneuverability,” Lt. Col. Anthony Gibbs, Product Manager Guided Precision Munitions and Mortar Systems, said in a release.

The improvement comes from a Semi-Active Laser seeker in the head of the HEGM mortar round that enables it to home in on a specific target that is illuminated by a laser designator– enabling it to correct in-flight if the target is moved. The current APMI shell uses GPS guideance and, once its fired, can’t be adjusted.

The new “smart” round can be used in all 120mm mortars currently in service and both enables less collatoral damage on the reciving end, and allows troops to displace if needed to avoid enemy artilery from firing back at their location, all while conserving logistical resources.

“With a precision mortar capability you’re able to quickly come in, establish, fire and with one round you’re able to get effects. If counter-fire is a threat, a precision mortar gives you the ability to get first round effects and then reposition,” said Gibbs.

The Army plans to conduct an open competiton in 2018 from among the developmental contract winners set to be announced late this year.

HEGM is still in the preliminary design stage but the program expects production to begin in fiscal year 2021 and produce about 14,000 shells.

Meanwhile, the Army is also developing the new M777ER, or Extended Range, 155-millimeter howitzer which is expected to double its current effective range of about 15 miles when using regular artillery shells to over 43 miles.

To maintain overmatch, the Army is developing the M777ER, or Extended Range, which should be able to shoot beyond 70 kilometers. Tests conducted late last year at the U.S. Army's Picatinny Arsenal research and development facility have led officials to believe they're on the right track. Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC)

Posted by U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command on Thursday, March 2, 2017

Latest Reviews

  • A Look at the Sig P238, A Year Later

    The Sig Sauer P238 was the first .380 ACP BUG to grace my gun safe, a welcomed addition to the 9mm polymers, .38 SPL revolvers, and .45 ACP 1911s. After more than a year's worth of use, where do I stand on the P238? Let's find out.

    Read More
  • Tuck & Carry: CCW in a Skirt

    Aimed at those who want the comfort and convenience of a skirt but with the protection of a holstered gun, the Tuck & Carry occupies what I term apparel holsters -- that is clothing/holster duos.

    Read More
  • The Marlin Dark in .45-70 is Stealthy and Modern

    Flash forward the lever gun of Western lore to the 2020s, where Marlin has taken that classic design and given it a modern upgrade. Meet the Marlin Dark.

    Read More
  • Gear Review: Sig Sauer Tango 6T 1-6

    Sig Sauer has long been a big name in the firearms industry, so it came as no surprise several years ago when Sig filled out its repertoire with its own optics line. Today, we’re looking at the Tango 6T, a 1-6 low power variable optic.

    Read More