Artillery: December 28, 2004

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The United States Army is introducing the German designed Bussard guided 120mm mortar projectile (the XM395 precision guided mortar munition). The 39 pound, 39 inch long shell homes in on reflected laser light from current laser designators used by American troops. The shell has a range of 15 kilometers, and the guidance system on the shell provides accuracy of several meters (from the point where the laser is pointed at.) Unguided shells only have a range of 7.2 kilometers and are much less accurate. The guidance system of the XM495 allows for accurate hits no matter what the range, while unguided shells get less accurate the longer the range. Thus the XM395 mortar shells can be fired effectively to their maximum range of 15 kilometers. The seeker electronics in the shell use thermal batteries, giving the shell a shelf life of ten years. Various types of warheads can be used, including penetrators for taking out bunkers. Targets like this are usually too small to be hit, much less taken out, but mortar fire. But the XM395 has been able to do it in tests. A high explosive shell would be a big help in city fighting, where you want to hit the house full of bad guys, and not the hospital next door. The U.S. Army has over a thousand 120mm self-propelled mortars. These were produced, or converted from older systems, in the late 1990s. U.S. infantry and tank battalions have 6-10 120mm mortars each. Light infantry units have 120mm mortars that are hauled around in hummers and set up for firing.

 


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