At the end of 2021, the head of the Planning Group of the Hungarian Armed Forces Command, General László Sticz, announced a procurement effort for 120 mm mortar systems. Reportedly, these weapon systems will be supplied by Hirtenberger Defence and will include not only the mortars but also other system components.
The decision comes as no surprise for industry insiders. After all, the Hungarian Armed Forces have not had this key infantry fire support capability since the M1943 mortar was decommissioned some time ago. However, internal publications of the Hungarian armed forces and studies have been calling for the reestablishment of the capability by means of modern systems for more than a decade.
According to well-informed sources, a low double-digit number of 120 mm M12 mortars will be delivered to the armed forces by 2023. The intention is the integration of the weapon systems as an element of the armed forces and to increase the number of specialised personnel through training. In a further step, additional systems could be procured which, according to some sources, have already been budgeted for.
The incoming mortar systems will be fitted on a trailer to enable towed deployment. Besides, the Hungarian mortar forces are to receive modern fire control solutions and a corresponding ammunition package from the Hirtenberger.
Hirtenberger Involvement in Hungary
Hirtenberger’s M12 mortar is produced in two versions, which differ mainly in the barrel length and the resulting total weight, as well as in the range. According to the manufacturer, both versions have a rate of fire of up to 15 rounds per minute. It has not been disclosed whether Hungary will receive the version with a ballistic barrel length of 1385 mm or 1535 mm.
The decision in favour of a Hirtenberger product does not come as a surprise for observers. Since 29 October 2019, the Hungarian state-owned company “HDT Védelmi Ipari Kft” has had a share of 100 per cent in the Austrian Hirtenberger Defence Group, which also includes companies in the UK and New Zealand. Before this acquisition, Hirtenberger Holding GmbH had decided to divest the its defence division and to look for a buyer for the mortar business.
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