Precision mortar development forges ahead
Raytheon has been contracted to design, develop and demonstrate a new production representative 120mm long-range guided-mortar system munition for the US Marine Corps’ Expeditionary Fire Support System (EFSS).
In an announcement on 22 January, Raytheon said that in partnership with Israel Military Industries, it will 'design, develop, test and deliver mature, production-representative mortars for a live-fire demonstration by the Marines in 18 months'.
The mortars will be known as the Precision Extended Range Munition (PERM) and this effort is part of the PERM engineering, manufacturing and demonstration (EMD) phase that will lead to a production contract.
A Raytheon spokesperson told LWI: 'The Marines have specified quantities for the live fire demonstration, LRIP [low rate initial production] and production.'
'IMI is a key partner with Raytheon. We are leveraging the design of the IMI mortar. Basically, IMI will provide the back end of the mortar. However, we leverage our Excalibur experiences with which the Marines are comfortable with.'
Raytheon has referred to PERM as the ‘little brother of Excalibur', which is a 155mm precision-guided extended-range projectile first fielded in 2007 that utilizes GPS.
PERM will be fired from the TDA RT 120mm M327 rifled towed mortar – the main weapon system of the EFSS, which also includes two 4x4 prime mover vehicles weighing 3,900lbs each and an ammunition trailer for 30 rounds.
PERM is expected to improve the capabilities of the EFSS with precision, highly lethal indirect fire support during combat missions with an accuracy within 20 m and an increased range in excess of 17km. EFSS is designed to provide the USMC with tactically mobile fire support that is air transportable in a MV-22 Osprey, CH-53 helicopter, C-130 and C-5 transport aircraft.
Manufactured by General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems (GD-OTS) the EFSS achieved initial operating capability in March 2009 and currently has a range of 8.2km. The USMC initially contracted GD-OTS for $9.6 million in June 2010 to complete the PERM Technology Demonstration Phase (TDP).
The PERM EMD phase is expected to last for 24 months in total and is headed by prime contractor ATK. GD-OTS partnered with ATK in October 2011 to also develop a PERM precision mortar round for EFSS.
ATK was then awarded a $14.3 million contract in December 2012 to demonstrate a precision round that can be quickly brought into production. ATK is providing its fuse technologies with GD-OTS providing the extended-range rifled mortar energetic subsystems developed during the PERM TDP.
The Raytheon and ATK/OTS variants will compete for the final PERM production award.
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