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Joes Soon to Get Precision 120 Mortar Round

Talk about a game changer...

Picatinny Arsenal announced yesterday it had begun fielding the Accelerated Precision Mortar Initiative 120mm GPS-guided mortar rounds to an infantry BCT in Afghanistan and is set to field mortars to all IBCTs in The Stan within six months.

"APMI is a 120 mm 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.

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 more than seven times more accurate than any formerly fielded mortar.

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 more than seven times more accurate than any formerly fielded mortar.

Anyone reading this blog with experience in The Stan knows how huge a deal this is (at least for Soldiers) since the 120 is the primary indirect fire support asset for the remotest of FOBs. We also know that with extremely restrictive ROEs nowadays -- with air assets relegated to "shows of force" for all but the most dire circumstances -- even employing the 120 is a tough sell.

But with the GPS guidance kit and a 10 meter CEP, the risk of friendly fire or collateral damage is greatly reduced, making the decision process for employment a little easier. Of all the things the Army has done lately to contribute to Soldier sruvivability in Afghanistan, Kit Up! believes this might be one of the service's best achievements so far.

Inside the APMI:

  • The APMI XM395, cartridge uses a standard M934 high-explosive 120mm projectile body. In the nose, a GPS receiver and computer controlled aerodynamic directional fins keep the round on its programmed trajectory. Folding fins in the tail provide stability.
  • APMI also has a multi-functional fuze, which allows the round to be programmed to explode in the air, once it hits a hard surface or after it penetrates inside a target.
  • In order for the autonomous flight and fuze control to function properly, operators must input mission and GPS data from a fire control computer into the round using a setting device.
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