The Dutch Army and Marines will receive new 81 mm mortars after a procurement contract between the Dutch Defence Procurement Agency (DMO) and Hirtenberger Defence Europe GmbH was signed on 25 February.
The Dutch Armed forces currently use British-made 81mm mortars as indirect fire support weapons at the company level. These are deployed in the infantry units of the Army’s 11th Luchtmobile, 43rd Mechanised and 13th Light Brigade, as well as the Corps Mariniers. The new mortars will replace the legacy systems and provide both range and precision advantages.
The ten-year framework agreement includes a total of 122 bipod mortars with 81 mm ammunition as well as the necessary logistical support to be delivered to the Dutch Armed Forces by the Austrian mortar specialist. Qualification measures for the weapon systems and ammunition are to be carried out in advance, which will apparently begin shortly and, according to the Ministry of Defence, last about two years.
The weapon system is the Hirtenberger M8 – 1365 bipod 81 mm mortar with a blast deflector in 81 mm calibre with a system weight of 40.2 kilograms. The 1.365 metre long barrel allows ranges of up to 6.7 kilometres (with Hirtenberger HE Mk4 ammunition).
|Technical data M8 – 1365 according to company brochure|
|Max. range with Hirtenberger HE Mk4 ammunition||6,669 m|
|Max. operating gas pressure||100 MPa|
|Total weight||40.2 kg|
|Weight of the barrel||14.9 kg|
|Weight of the bipod||12.8 kg|
|Weight of the base plate||12.5 kg|
|Barrel length, overall||1,482 mm|
|Barrel length, ballistic||1,365 mm|
|Diameter of base plate||547 mm|
The following ammunition types, which have fuses from South African manufacturer Fuchs Elektronics, have reportedly been selected:
- the Hirtenberg High Explosive (HE)
- the Illumination visible (ILL VIS)
- infrared (ILL IR)
- Smoke red phosphorus (SMK RP)
Carsten Barth, CEO of HDE, said, “We are very happy to deliver and serve the Dutch Armed Forces with the new 81mm System.”
“We will provide the Dutch Forces with the latest mortar technology and will provide support and ammunition delivery for the life-time of the weapon,” Barth added.
Modernisation of the Dutch fire support systems
The contract is a further step in the modernisation of the Dutch fire support systems. In a first step, the modernisation of the 60 mm commandomortar was already initiated in the middle of the last decade. This contract (for the ammunition and the weapon system) was also won by Hirtenberger.
In a further step, the 120 mm systems are also to be replaced by new and more powerful mortars. The corresponding procurement process was recently initiated with the Dutch MoD expecting the first systems to arrive in 2023.
Within the framework of the “Licht Indirect Vurend Systeem” (LIVS) project, a total of 20 new 120 mm mortars are to be procured for the mortar platoons of the 11th Luchtmobile Brigade and the Corps Mariniers, as well as a reserve firing unit. A minimum range of 8 km is required. In order to increase the precision as well as the range to some extent, the possibility and expediency of procuring precision-guided ammunition will be investigated. This is supposed to increase the range to about 12 km.