D&S 2017: Thailand rains down rockets and artillery
The Thai Ministry of Defence (MoD) displayed its newest artillery project at the Defense & Security 2017 expo in Bangkok, this being an effort to create a 120mm truck-mounted mortar.
Aptly named the Autonomous Truck-Mounted Mortar, or ATMM, it is being developed by the MoD’s Weapon Production Centre in conjunction with Elbit Systems of Israel, with significant amounts of technology transfer occurring.
Soltam’s 120mm Spear recoil mortar system was seen at the exhibition mounted on a Tata LPTA 713 TC 4x4 truck from India. Its elevation range is listed as 800-1,511 mils with a traverse of 800 mils in either direction.
A spokesman said the purpose of the ATMM is to support infantry with a mounted mortar that can enter action within two minutes of coming to a stop. Served by a four-man crew, the mortar has a 6.5km range and ten rounds-per-minute rate of fire.
For now the Weapon Production Centre will produce enough ATMMs for a single mortar company. A mortar company would feature ten ATMMs, supported by a company fire direction centre (FDC), four platoon FDCs and nine forward observers.
The latter would be connected to the FDC with an Elbit Systems fire controller device to call in fire. Responding to data inputs from the forward observer, the Spear mortar can automatically lay and aim.
Initial work on this project occurred in Israel, though the centre of gravity is now in Thailand. The system on display was assembled in Thailand and it will be test-fired before the end of the year.
In other artillery news, a Weapon Production Centre spokesman said that phase two of the Autonomous Truck-Mounted Gun (ATMG) project is now getting started. This will eventually see a battalion of 18 ATMGs (three batteries) as well as a battalion fire control system and meteorological radar enter service.
Phase one saw six units of the 155mm ATMG produced and delivered to the army.
The ATMG features a 155mm/52 cal. howitzer mounted on a Tatra 10t 6x6 truck, with Elbit Systems providing the technical know-how and ATMOS artillery piece. The gun has a 40km firing range and two rounds can be fired per minute. Six crewmen serve the ATMG, which has a 400km road range.
The RTA previously bought six units of the Nexter CAESAR in 2009, but the country has been seeking cheaper options to equip artillery units with a road-mobile system.
Finally, the Defence Technology Institute, an MoD branch, displayed a scale model of its rocket system at Defense & Security 2017. DTI helped develop the DTI-1 multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) with 60-180km range, the DTI-1G MLRS that fires guided rockets 70-150km, and the DTI-2 high-performance rocket that has a 15-40km range.
China has provided assistance for these projects through technology transfer.
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