Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM) is enhancing its mortar and 155 mm artillery lineup with extended range enhancements as well as improvements to fuses and fillings.
The company said it has responded to key requests from customers, which include the desire for longer ranges, improved lethality and reduced dispersion. RDM now has two new mortar product suites – the Mortar Bomb 120 mm series, and the Mortar Bomb 81 mm ELR (Extended Long Range). These are in the qualification stage, with qualification expected in the next 12 months.
A new IHE (Insensitive High Explosive) PFF (Pre-Formed Fragmented) version has been added to the 120 mm mortar family, and the whole family has also been upgraded by introducing a locally manufactured RDM extruded propellant. This will allow RDM to guarantee customers security of supply. The IHE PFF round incorporates 3 mm tungsten balls, which generate around 15 000 fragments in addition to the fragments created by the mortar’s cast iron body. The 60 and 81 mm IHE PFF is already qualified to STANAG requirements.
RDM said its new 81 mm suite of mortars have been developed to be used with long range weapons. These mortars can reach distances of greater than 7 100 metres at sea level when they are fired from the Denel manufactured M8 LR weapon. The extended range of these weapons means that a cargo or explosive payload can be launched to distances previously only reachable by bigger calibres at a higher cost.
A new STANAG qualified Point Detonating (PD) fuze has also been introduced to the complete family of 60, 81 and 120 mm mortar bombs. The introduction of local technology to these products has increased local content to more than 95%.
RDM is making efforts to expand its Assegai 155 mm artillery family to satisfy the growing need for longer ranges. The current Assegai V-LAP (Velocity-enhanced Long-range Artillery Projectile) has a range in excess of 54 km when fired from a 155 mm/52-calibre howitzer. RDM is looking at extending ranges to between 60 and 100 km.
Other improvements being made to the Assegai range cover a user selectable fuse intrusion and now clients can fit either standard fuses or deep intrusion course-correction fuses to the IHE (Insensitive High Explosive) projectile variants. Improvements also cover lethality (pre-formed fragments combined with natural fragments for improved fragment density and greater target area coverage).
RDM is currently negotiating an order for 50 to 60 000 rounds of artillery as well as charges. It has received several large artillery orders over the last couple of years, including two orders in 2018 worth €52 million and €28 million, necessitating the increase of production at its facilities.
In late 2017 RDM won a contract for 155 mm Assegai ammunition from the Australian Defence Force. RDM is supplying 155 mm Assegai projectiles to Australia’s largest privately owned defence company NIOA, under the LAND 17-1C2 Future Artillery Ammunition programme for the Australian Defence Force (ADF). The AU$100 million contract, in partnership with Rheinmetall Defence, Rheinmetall Nitrochemie and Junghans Microtec, was tendered on in 2017. RDM’s portion of the initial contract for the qualification ammunition and war stock was approximately AU$60 million. Deliveries have started and follow-up orders are expected.
The Australian order is the first time an M777A2 field howitzer user nation has opted for the Assegai family. The armed forces of Canada and the United States, among other nations, also deploy the M777A2.