This is intended for people interested in the subject of military guns and their ammunition, with emphasis on automatic weapons.
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"I suspect that what this tells you is that the test ground was fairly level and uncluttered. It would be interesting to see an analysis of the effective range and hit probability of the system in a variety of circumstances, including moving targets which in average terrain would be appearing and disappearing behind buildings, vegetation, or even sand dunes etc."
Yes, I'm sure that is the case, and that combat will be more challenging.
BAE claims a 93% hit rate from aircraft so far by US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Even a 50% reduction due to ground combat use would put it at 46.5% hit rate, which would be pretty fantastic. There really is no comparably accurate or effective weapon that can be mounted on small, helicopter delivered vehicles that I'm aware of.
autogun said...I suspect that what this tells you is that the test ground was fairly level and uncluttered.
This makes a lot of sense, as that describes the parts of the USA where there is sufficient space to test such things while minimizing any collateral damage. That being said, the National Training Center has lots of mountainous terrain and is very large. While I've never been there, colleagues of mine modeled it in 3D in a project for the US Army, populating it with various building and vehicle modules, so I've "flown" though it many times, though that was a couple of decades ago.
The mortars would certainly be preferred when available, though time of flight might favor the rockets, especially for moving targets. I suspect the use case for the rockets is for patrols out beyond heavy mortar range, but anything that can carry the rocket pod should be able to carry a light mortar and its ammo. A 60mm with guided munitions might do just as well, and would provide similar mobility advantages. Since the rounds are designated, you're not going to get a true MLRS effect, so the rate of fire isn't going to be an issue. I'm sure there are still some conditions where the rocket might be preferred, but I'll leave that as an exercise for the reader.
In terms of vehicle based mortars, the Marine's briefly fielded, then ditched, the 120mm M327 EFSS:
It was designed to fire the Raytheon PERM, GPS guided mortar:
-GPS Guided so can be fired non-line of sight targets
-$18,000 cost vs $30,000 for APKWS
-Substantial increase in power - 35lb shell vs 16lb for APKWS
-Requires known GPS cordinates to fire
-Requires working GPS (not useful in the presence of GPS jamming / Anti Sat)
-20M accuracy range for PERM vs 1m for APKWS
-Increased power increases collateral damage for Urban use
-Cannot hit moving targets
-Cannot target individual rooms of a building
-Requires substantially more manpower and vehicles then APKWS
This last issue is the most substantial. The M327 requires 2x vehicles to employ. 1 vehicle tows the 1,283lb Mortar. Another vehicle is needed to tow the 30 round ammo carriage, which is another ~1300lbs. And these vehicles + mortar cannot be transported by helicopter, only by a V22 Osprey.
To fire, the mortar requires a crew of 4 gunners.
By comparison, the APKWS MLRS weighs ~750lbs loaded with 23rds, and can be transported by 1x small vehicle that fits on a helicopter. And to fire, it requires only a gunner and a laser pointer man.
APKWS II still costs 30k$ a pop, even when it was defined for cost below 10k.
It is expensive, even for USA, if it is pretended to be used commonly. It is not very useful if the rocket is not guided (minikatiusha?)
An 81mm or 120mm mortar can be fielded by one or two UGV and it can shoot either guided or unguided ammo. I find it more flexible than APKWS for dismounted units. Indeed, in the 2030, airborne units with UGV armed with 30mm cannon and mortar could carry a very serious punch from the first minute
How is a small UGV going to operate a Mortar?
As far as cost, APKWS is really not that expensive in the scheme of military spending.
For the cost of one V22 Osprey, you can buy 2,400 APKWS.
For the cost of one Eurofighter Typhoon, 3900 APWS.
Keep in mind that doesn't even include the outrageous maintenance and fuel costs of flying these aircraft.
1-2x APKWS per flight hour is typical.
Whereas a few ground based APKWS obviates the need for a plane during close support in many instances.
Could you tell me what teen or euroteen have a 30k$ cost per hour of flight?
I agree with you about costs of using 4th gen multirrole for CAS in AA low risk environments such as Astan. Even American pockets aren't unlimited, and burning hours of the inherited Cold War fleet in that is absurd. IF we NATO need to intervene in some place, it would be needed to address the CAS resources properly and select more suited systems that those that we are using now. However, a reduced cost CAS resource offer an unvaluable asset: high ground
There would be several options for self-loading a 81mm mortar. From an evolution of the old Vasiliek system, to a robotized feed. Inside the box of a THeMIS there is plenty of space for installing such a device, providing that the mortar base is on the ground
poliorcetes said...I agree with you about costs of using 4th gen multirrole for CAS in AA low risk environments such as Astan. Even American pockets aren't unlimited, and burning hours of the inherited Cold War fleet in that is absurd. IF we NATO need to intervene in some place, it would be needed to address the CAS resources properly and select more suited systems that those that we are using now. However, a reduced cost CAS resource offer an unvaluable asset: high ground
Well a significant chunk of the US CAS in Afghanistan was done by B1Bs, so the idea of saving money doesn't really feature.
Rather than dreaming up even more obscure ways of letting troops patrolling on foot in the middle of nowhere get support. Stick with drones and Super Tucanos which will cover far more patrols more cheaply than a bunch of trucks which need crews and the fairly limited potential of these rockets.
I believe I posited before that an IFV with an interchangeable mount allowing the use of guided 70mm rockets and ATGMs in whatever mission configuration was deemed appropriate would be a great support platform for the troops.
Imagine Bradleys in Iraq being able to let of 23 rockets without reloading instead of just two missiles.
Heck, for real fun, make the mount interchangable with a MANPADS missile pack too, potentially every infantry platoon would have a missile for every occasion.
But burning the Cold war fleet is unsustainable, even for USA. It's going to be worse if CAS is finally conducted by F-35. Go figure...
And you are excluding options needlessly. Drones are cheap (although their guided munitions AREN'T cheap), and COIN birds could offer dozens of time over the terrain that teens are offering, both because costs per hour and persistence. It would be a very serious deterrence for direct engagement with our troops.
But there are a good number of possibilities in which UGVs can offer significant advantages. For the very beginning of airmobile patrols, to urban combat, perimeter defense, etc. Since troops are going to go on foot in the next war, upgrading their fire capability without the logistic footprint and limitations of helicopter-portable manned ground vehicles.
UAV are going to be critical in all future operations. But UGVs are going to gain importance because in an NH 90 you can carry 3-4 armed themis, land them among paratroopers and offer them flexible and powerful fire capabilities
Some times I think about UGV comparing them with a tripod-mounted weapon that can move on itself and fire behind corners, or even fire without human operators in some circumstances. An APKWS module could offer huge advantages in certain scenarios, and an UGV is the smallest vehicle that can make them mobile. Indeed, themis can be carried by a wheeled vehicle up to 60 kph if I recall it correctly. In certain patrol scenarios such UGVs could add decissive firepower