Lightweight Mortar M224 60mm

Lightweight Mortar M224 60mm

The M224 60 mm Lightweight Mortar is a smooth bore, muzzle-loading, high-angle-of-fire weapon used for close-in support of ground troops. It was deployed extensively in the War in Afghanistan by the United States.

Description

The M224 system is composed of the

  • M225 Cannon: 14.4 lb (6.5 kg)
  • M170 Bipod: 15.2 lb (6.9 kg)
  • M7A1 Baseplate for use in conventional mode: 9.6 lb (4.4 kg) or
    • M8 baseplate for use in handheld mode: 3.6 lb (1.6 kg)
  • M64A1 Sight Unit (The M67 Sight Unit is now widely used for the system): 2.5 lb (1.1 kg)

The mount consists of a bipod and a base plate, which is provided with screw type elevating and traversing mechanisms to elevate/traverse the mortar. The M64A1 sight unit is attached to the bipod mount. The mortar can be fired in the conventional mode or the handheld mode. This smooth-bore system can be gravity-fired or fired by using a manual spring-loaded trigger.

It is typically fielded at the infantry company level. A small mortar section with two mortars was organic to Army rifle companies (light, airborne, air assault) and Ranger companies. Marine rifle companies have a section with three 60mm mortars in the company weapons platoon.

History

The M224 LWCMS (Lightweight Company Mortar System) replaced the older (WWII-era) 60 mm M2 Mortar and M19 Mortar and began fielding in the mid-1970s. These weapons had an effective range of only 2,000 m (2,187 yd). While the M224 was designed to fire all types of the older ammunition, its primary rounds are of the newer, longer-range type that range out to 3,489 m (3,816 yd).

In 2011, an improved M224A1 version was brought into service. The M224A1 consists of the M225A1 tube, M170A1 bipod assembly, M7A1 baseplate, M8 auxiliary baseplate and the M64A1 sight unit. By reducing the number of components and using lighter materials the mortar system weighs 20% less with a reduction of 9.3 lb (4 kg). The US Army plans to replace all legacy M224s with the new M224A1. Concurrently, a lighter version of the 81mm M252 mortar was also developed.

Ammunition

The M224 Mortar can fire the following principal classifications of training and service ammunition:

  • High explosive (HE): Designations M888, M720, and M720A1. Used against personnel and light material targets.
    • M1061: Improved HE with insensitive munitions performance-enhancing fragmentation warhead.
  • Smoke Cartridge (WP): Designation M722. Used as a screening, signaling, or marking munition.
  • Illumination (ILLUM): Used in night missions requiring illumination for assistance in observation.
  • Training practice (TP): Designation M50A2/A3. Used for training in limited areas. These rounds are obsolete and no longer used.
  • Red Phosphorus: Can be seen with or without a Night Vision Optic.
  • Full Range Practice Cartridges (FRPC): Designation M769. This round is used for practice or clearing misfires.
  • M1061 MAPAM: SAAB Technologies produced Multi-Purpose Anti-Personnel Anti-Material round.

Fuzes

The M224 rounds have three fuze types: The Multioption Fuze (M734), the Point-Detonating Fuze (M525), and Timer fuze. The M734 is used for the M720 HE round and can be set to function as proximity burst, near-surface burst, impact burst, or delay burst.

Specifications

Mass 21.1 kilograms (47 lb)
Barrel length 1 meter (3.3 feet)
Crew 3

Caliber 60 mm (2.4 in)
Rate of fire up to 20 rpm sustained, 30 rpm in exceptional circumstances and for short periods
Effective firing range HE: 70–3,490 m
(76–3,816 yds)
Feed system manual

 

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