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Army prepares for rollout of new handheld mortar computers

The Australian Army has readied for the rollout of the new A1 handheld mortar computer, which will replace the older M32 variant.

It won't be long before 81mm bombs will be sent downrange by new mortars guided by modern handheld computers set to rollout this year.

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Lieutenant Colonel Michael Chapman, Acting Program Director – Indirect Fire Support, said the current M32 was nearly obsolete.

“We didn’t have many spares left and they were in need of an overall replacement,” LTCOL Chapman said.

“M32A1 possess all of the same functions, but it also allows receipt of digital messages.

“A battalion can still conduct independent operations with its organic mortar support and mobile fire controllers, but in a brigade setting, the mortar platoon can be networked with the rest of the fire support.

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“[Controllers and observers] will be able to use whatever indirect weapons are within range of a target – whether the mortars or 155 howitzers – and the system will pick the right unit for the fire mission.”

The old F1 mortars are set to be replaced with new American-made M252A1 mortars featuring tubes that are 2.1 kilograms lighter, firing the same bombs.

“There was nothing wrong with the F1, they’re still working just fine, but there’s a focus on reducing the weight burden,” LTCOL Chapman said.

“Army was looking at all the options to reduce weight for dismounted combatants.

“The tube is very similar; the main difference is the design of the bipod, going from a K-frame to an A-frame, saving 2.6 kilograms.

“The base plate also looks similar, but it’s about 1.2 kilograms lighter, all up saving just under six kilograms.”

The new computers have arrived in Australia with rollout expected to begin this month.

The first batch of mortars have also arrived and expected to be delivered to designated units in the second half of 2019, enabling initial operational capability to be declared by the end of the year.

Final operational capability is expected by the end of 2020.

Army prepares for rollout of new handheld mortar computers
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