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Simplicity, ruggedness, maneuverability, and effectiveness are the principle characteristics of mortars. A mortar is a weapon that fires explosive projectiles onto a target. Mortars are the simplest form of artillery, used primarily for short range at high angles of elevation. This velocity-elevation combination offers the advantage of being able to reach nearby targets and to clear high barriers that stieltet- these targets from direct fire. The weapon consists of three primary components: the tube assembly (mortar), the mount, and the base plate.

Lightness is the fundamental design criterion which renders mortars portable, thereby providing the infantry with large caliber weapons. For the smaller calibers, the mount is usually of simple construction, consisting of a base to absorb the firing loads and a bipod to lend stability to the weapon and to provide limited elevation and traverse. Typical mortar teams consist of a gunner, assistant gunner, squad leader and an ammo man.

The primary role of mortars is to provide immediately available, responsive indirect fires that support the maneuver of the company or battalion, and that reinforce direct fires during close combat. Mortars allow the maneuver commander to quickly place killing indirect fires on the enemy, independent of whether he has been allocated supporting artillery. Heavy forces use carrier-mounted mortars to allow the mortar platoon to move cross-country at speeds compatible with the battalion task force. Light forces use wheeled vehicles or hand carry mortars into firing positions. Some companies have light mortars that can be manpacked across all terrain.

Mortar artillery ammunition is different from other types of artillery ammunition because it is loaded into the muzzle end of the weapon when fired. Mortar weapons are generally short-barreled weapons fired at a high trajectory. Mortars enable crews to fire at targets behind hills or in field fortifications such as foxholes and trenches. Mortar weapons systems are more portable than gun and howitzer weapons, which require large vehicles for transport.

High-explosive rounds are used to suppress or kill enemy dismounted infantry, mortars, and other supporting weapons, and to interdict the movement of men, vehicles and supplies in the enemy's forward area. Bursting WP rounds are often mixed with high-explosive rounds to enhance their suppressive and destructive effects.

Obscuration rounds are used to conceal friendly forces as forces maneuver or assault, and to blind enemy supporting weapons. Obscuration can be used to isolate a portion of the enemy force while it is destroyed piecemeal. Some mortar rounds use bursting WP to achieve this obscuration; others employ more efficient technology. Bursting WP is also used to mark targets for engagement by other weapons, usually aircraft, and for signaling.

Illumination rounds are used to reveal the location of enemy forces hidden by darkness. They allow the commander to confirm or deny the presence of the enemy without revealing the location of friendly direct-fire weapons. Illumination fires are often coordinated with HE fires to both expose the enemy and to kill or suppress him.

Propellant increments consist of thin sheet propellant bags of granular propellant or propellant grains in a combustible case (horseshoe-shaped). Sheet increments are designed to fit over the flash tube of the fin assembly. All types of mortar propellant increments are issued with a predetermined number of increment charges that can be adjusted (removed) prior to use. Mortars add depth to the battlefield, or they can isolate a small portion from enemy observation and movement. They not only out-range most direct fire weapons but also reach enemy forces sheltered in defilade and within field fortifications. The high angle of mortar fires make them effective against enemy forces hidden in wadis, ravines, reverse slopes, thick jungle, or narrow streets and alleyways.

Mortar sections and platoons exemplify the tenet of agility. The mortar's light weight and simplicity allow infantrymen to move them rapidly and to engage targets quickly with a high volume of fire. Dismounted forces can carry medium and light mortars over all terrain, and light vehicles and helicopters can move heavy mortars easily. Mortars can fire from almost any ground upon which a man can stand. Mortar platoons can shift quickly from engaging multiple targets to massing their fires on a single enemy location. Also, infantry battalions fighting on restrictive terrain use the inherent agility of mortars to add combat power to small, dispersed units. The mortar's high angle of fire, 360-degree traverse, and multioption fuze allows the commander to move forces quickly about the battlefield without losing responsive and effective fires, regardless of the terrain.

Despite the fact that currently the armies of many states have in their arsenals the most advanced artillery systems, such as guns and howitzers, mortars remain in demand, and sometimes simply irreplaceable weapons. This is due to the fact that mortars for the most part have high fire efficiency, especially in areas with difficult terrain, in urban areas, with the relatively low cost of the weapon itself and its ammunition.

Mortars are most often used for fire support of infantry and motorized rifles. In a motorized rifle battalion, a mortar battery is the main means of fire support for motorized rifle companies in battle, at the disposal of the battalion commander.

Mortar is indispensable when it is necessary to destroy or suppress enemy infantry or firepower with mounted fire, for example, on the reverse slopes of heights, behind urban buildings, behind artificial or natural shelters. Therefore, it is not surprising that for decades, most mortar designs have remained virtually without any significant changes. Basically, the changes relate to the design of ammunition for them, increasing the power of their action.

The most widespread in the world are 82 mm mortars (81.4 mm in foreign countries) and 120 mm. 82-mm mortars are relatively light, can be transported disassembled by calculation. However, they are significantly inferior to their 120-mm brothers in firing range and the power of ammunition. Due to the fact that the vast majority of modern infantry are motorized rifle or motorized infantry units with high tactical maneuverability, their regular or assigned mortar units must have no less mobility.

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Page last modified: 31-10-2019 16:50:53 ZULU