Rheinmetall AG of Düsseldorf has just been awarded a €54 million contract to equip the
German armed forces with a state-of-the-art mortar system. The system’s newly
developed 120mm mortar track and associated support vehicles make an important
contribution to the mission-oriented modernization of the Bundeswehr armoury. This
important order encompasses eight Wiesel 2 (“weasel”) vehicles, each of which is
armed with a 120mm mortar (lePzMrs). An option exists for an additional two vehicles
configured for a command and control role, and worth some €7.5 million. Delivery is
slated to take place in 2011.
Combining impressive firepower with advanced command and control technology,
Rheinmetall’s highly mobile Mortar Combat System significantly enhances the
Bundeswehr’s combat effectiveness, enabling it to respond to new threats in situations
where it has hitherto often lacked the necessary capabilities. On the international plane,
this state-of-the-art system places the Bundeswehr on the global cutting edge.
Based on Rheinmetall’s tried-and-tested Wiesel 2 lightweight tracked armoured vehicle,
various configurations of which have already been successfully fielded, the air-portable
Mortar Combat System is specially designed to support infantry and airmobile
operations in scenarios where protection is required. It supersedes obsolete, manually
operated Tampella-type mortars, which have long since ceased to meet today’s
operational needs. Furthermore, some existing stocks of mortar ammunition are now
over 25 years old, and thus no longer authorized for use.
The vehicles just ordered constitute a mortar platoon which will be used to support
ongoing operations in Afghanistan. In particular, the system is expected to play an
important role in countering asymmetric threats to Bundeswehr bases and convoys in
this challenging area of operation. Thanks to its enhanced range, heightened precision
and optimized lethality, the system also lends itself to operations in difficult terrain and
in urban areas.
The complete Mortar Combat System can be airlifted in a CH-53 cargo helicopter or
Transall C 160. Rugged yet flexible, it is designed to deliver maximum mobility even in
tough terrain, as well as substantially increasing the firepower, combat effectiveness
and accuracy of units deployed in harm’s way.
Force protection also features more prominently than in previous systems: the Wiesel 2
provides its 3-man crew with effective protection against ballistic threats and NBC
Fast and flexible, the Mortar Combat System is able to respond very quickly to
emerging threats even in a constantly shifting operating environment, aided by efficient
and effective use of newly developed, enhanced range, high-precision mortar
ammunition. The system is ready for action just 60 seconds after breaking cover, and
can fire up to three rounds in less than 20 seconds. Moreover, since the lePzMrs mortar
track can evacuate its fire position approximately 15 seconds after completing a fire
mission, it is able to take cover before the rounds it has fired have reached the enemy
position. This kind of “hide, hit, run, hide” tactic makes enemy reconnaissance much
harder, thus adding to the safety of the soldiers on board the Wiesel 2.
Although the mortar tracks can also be deployed autonomously, one of the most salient
characteristics of this “system of systems” is its outstanding networkability with all
relevant command echelons. Linking the individual vehicle systems into a unified
information network – with a constant exchange of operationally relevant data –
enhances the Mortar Combat System’s overall operational effectiveness and ability to
react quickly. It all comes down to teamwork: targets are detected and identified,
information analyzed and processed, options weighed and fire control data generated;
finally, the lePzMrs Wiesel 2 mortar track goes into action.
Rheinmetall’s new 120mm mortar ammunition can hit targets up to approx. 8,000
metres away, a substantial increase in range; it is also significantly more accurate and
effective. The use of terminal phase-guided munitions should lead to a further increase
in performance. New smoke/obscurant and infrared illumination rounds are also