Picatinny Fields First Precision-Guided Mortars To Troops In Afghanistan
By Dialogo April 04, 2011
In March, U.S. Soldiers in Afghanistan received 120mm GPS-guided mortar precision capability.
The Program Executive Office for Ammunition fielded Accelerated Precision Mortar Initiative cartridges, or APMI, to one Infantry Brigade Combat Team, or IBCT, earlier this month, and is scheduled to field cartridges to the seven other IBCTs in Afghanistan within six months.
“APMI is a 120mm GPS-guided mortar cartridge that provides the infantry commander precision-strike capability, which he has never had before,” said Peter Burke, PEO Ammunition’s deputy product manager, Guided Precision Munitions and Mortar Systems.
Mortars are an indirect firing capability used to defeat enemy troops, materiel, bunkers and other infantry-type targets.
“Typically mortars are fired in volleys against an area target because of their inherent inaccuracy, but with APMI, you have the potential to destroy a target with only one or two rounds,” Burke said.
The APMI cartridge has a requirement of 10 meters CEP, or Circular Error Probable, but Burke said the program is exceeding this requirement. Ten meters CEP means that if you drew a circle around a target at 10 meters radius, the rounds have to fall inside the circle 50 percent of the time.
Current CEP for 120 mm mortars at their maximum range is 136 meters. Mortars with the most advanced features, such as precision position and pointing systems, can achieve a 76 meter CEP, which still makes APMI seven times more accurate than any formerly fielded mortar.
While APMI will not replace standard 120mm mortars, its accuracy will allow a commander the ability to defeat a target with precision if there is danger of collateral damage, Burke explained.
Insurgents deliberately plan attacks in populated areas in the hope that opposing forces don’t want to retaliate and risk accidental harm to civilians or damage to non-military property.
“Sometimes, if the risk of collateral damage is too high, you might not be able to fire (a standard 120mm) at all,” Burke said of enemy engagements. “In that case, instead of firing a mortar from a protected position, you would have to send troops in to engage with direct-fire weapons, exposing them to more risk.”
But because of APMI’s GPS-technology, which provides an accurate, first-round fire-for-effect capability, troops will have opportunities to employ APMI’s precision where they previously would not, such as nearer to friendly forces or in urban areas.