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Precision Mortar Tech Could Give Operators New Options

May. 16, 2013 - 10:38AM   |  
By PAUL McLEARY   |   Comments
Lockheed Martin showed off its submission to the Short Range Precision Strike System competition this week at the SOFIC conference in Tampa, Fla.
Lockheed Martin showed off its submission to the Short Range Precision Strike System competition this week at the SOFIC conference in Tampa, Fla. (Lockheed Martin)
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TAMPA, FLA. — Imagine if an individual infantryman could fire a GPS- or laser-guided mortar anywhere from 100 meters to 14 kilometers — and hit within a few meters of his target. How would that have affected close-in fights, such as the attempts to overrun small forward operating bases like Combat Outpost Keating and Wanat in Afghanistan?

That’s the kind of firepower that Special Operations Command wants to provide its operators in the near future as part of the Short Range Precision Strike System.

Lockheed Martin showed off its submission to the competition this week, boasting that it scored a perfect three for three hits in testing at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., in February, while reaching a range of 14 kilometers.

Dubbed the “Nemesis,” the 39-pound precision munition is based on a standard 81mm mortar, which has been fixed with wings that extend once the missile is launched from a ground launch tube.

The mortar with the launch tube weighs about 65 pounds said Tom Bargnesi, Nemesis program manager.

The missile is shot by a soldier using a small laptop who inputs a target area and lets it fly. It then relies on those GPS coordinates until “it gets into the target area, when we start looking for the laser designation and that’s what allows it to guide it to a laser-designated target,” Bargnesi said.

The three shots fired at White Sands in February hit targets at ranges of eight and 12 kilometers, which were a mix of GPS and laser designation. They also took a 100-meter shot and hit 1.8 meters away from the target guided only by GPS.

The laser-designation capability means that after a soldier fires the mortar, the round could be guided by a variety of platforms fixing a laser on the target, including a helicopter, an AC-130 aircraft, a drone or even a sniper, miles away from where the shot was taken.

Bargnesi estimated that since the program has come together relatively quickly, roughly 40 percent of it is composed of new technologies, with the remaining 60 percent coming from other systems such as the DAGR missile, whose seeker the Nemesis uses.

Doug Borger, Nemesis business development manager, said that while SOCOM hasn’t made a decision on the program yet, the company is talking to the other services. There is no cash in the fiscal 2014 budget for the program.

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