Army Wants New Mortar Systems that Launch Missiles and Weaponized Drones, Too

A Striker-based M1129 firing a mortar at night. These and other vehicles will get ARC systems starting in 2021. (Photo: David Robinson/Wikimedia)

The U.S. Army is looking for new mortar systems to extend the range of troops’ firepower. They want launchers that not only fire mortars but also missiles and even weaponized drones, like the Lethal Miniature Aerial Missile System.

The Lethal Miniature Aerial Missile System is a “suicide” or “kamikazi” drone that patrols overhead until needed, then dives in and explodes.

On top of that, they want the mortar systems to work with turret mounts on vehicles and they want the launchers to offer both manned and unmanned fire control. They want the systems to be self-loading and have a 20-round capacity at a minimum between loads.

They’re calling the system the ARC for “Mortar, Automated Remote Capability.” The Army is looking for both 120mm and 81mm launchers to fire both conventional and unconventional payloads and turret systems with both indirect- and direct-fire capability.

It doesn’t stop there. The Army wants the ARC systems to be fast. They should be able to get rounds off no more than 60 seconds after receiving a fire mission if not deployed and 30 seconds if deployed.

The ARC also needs to have a rate of fire of at least one round per second and be able to fire at least 30 rounds per minute, accounting for reloading. In direct-fire mode, the ARC should have the ability to fire on the move and acquire targets in a complete 360-degree field of view.

The 120mm ARC should also have a solid range of at least 5 miles and hopefully closer to 12 with indirect fire. The 81mm system should be able to reach out 3.7 miles at a minimum, preferably something around 9 miles out. Both systems need to be able to engage targets as close as 55 yards away.

The mortar systems will replace mounted 120mm mortar launchers on existing Striker-based mortar carriers and still be able to fire explosive, illuminating, smoke and guided mortars as well as cluster bombs. The systems will also be used with the planned Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle and Next Generation Combat Vehicle.

The Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle is a program to switch to a next-generation personnel carrier. Similarly, the Next Generation Combat Vehicle is the Army’s program to replace the Bradley M1, M2 and M3 Fighting Vehicles with newer designs.

For now, this is a market survey, not a solicitation for bids. The Army isn’t buying systems yet. Potential vendors will need to get their designs into production by 2021 and have cost estimates ready to in order to receive formal solicitations.

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About the author: Max Slowik is a writer with over a dozen years of experience and is a lifelong shooter. He has unwavering support for the Second Amendment and the human right to self-defense. Like Thomas Paine, he’s a journalist by profession and a propagandist by inclination.

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  • Gerald Hall September 19, 2019, 6:55 am

    So the US Army wants something kind of like what the Russians and Chinese already have?

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