Patria and the U.S. Army have entered into an agreement for a feasibility study of incorporating a turreted, breech-loaded 120 mm mortar weapon system in U.S. mortar carriers. The evaluation will also assess the integration of carrier weapon platforms and fire control systems and the use of current U.S. 120 mm mortar ammunition in a breech-loaded system.

The Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) agreement between the Army’s Combat Capabilities Development Command Armaments Center and Finland’s company Patria, follows an Army study conducted by late 2018, seeking sources to develop and produce the 120 mm Mortar Future Indirect Fire Turret (FIFT). Patria answered the market survey based on its Nemo mortar system. The evaluation of Nemo turrets is part of a continued search in enhancing the capabilities of Armored and Stryker Brigade Combat Teams with rapid, precise indirect and direct fire capability. The turreted design provides more protection for the crew, and reduces the physical burden of loading bombs. The Russian military has been using turreted mortars in indirect and direct firing modes for decades but until now, the concept has not been successful in the Western military.

The U.S. Army currently employs the Cardom 120mm mortar system produced by Elbit Systems. Cardom systems are installed on Stryker and M-113 (or AMPV) armored vehicles and are manually loaded. The Marine Corps has recently decommissioned 120mm mortars and is looking for alternatives that will deliver the firepower expected from mortars, but with enhanced effects.

Nemo 120mm turreted mortar installed on a Patria AMV armored vehicle. Photo: Patria

The NEw-MOrtar (Nemo) is a turreted, remote-controlled 120 mm smoothbore mortar system with both direct and indirect fire capability. It is a lighter version of Patria’s Amos twin-barrel system in use by the Finish Army since 2013. Like Amos, Nemo is capable of rapid firing using electrically operated semi-automatic loading enables the system to fire in quick succession. Nominally, Nemo can deliver up to 10 rounds per minute at a maximum rate of fire, and six rounds in the sustained firing. It takes only 30 seconds to fire a first round, with two additional rounds in 15 seconds.

By trimming elevation to different trajectories Nemo can be programmed to hit a target simultaneously with up to six bombs fired from a single mortar on a “Multiple Rounds Simultaneous Impact” (MRSI) fire mission. Such a capability requires highly coordinated fire by a full battalion. In addition to being highly protected, the system employs a hydropneumatic recoiling system to soften firing loads, and with a total weight of about 1,900 kg, it is compact and light enough for installation on light, tracked chassis, wheeled armored vehicles, or navy boats.

Since 2012 Patria has supplied 60 Nemo mortar turrets to several customers, among them Slovenia (AMV), UAE (installed on naval boats), and Saudi Arabia (LAV-II). The later was acquired under a U.S. Foreign Military Sales contract.