Israeli company Elbit Systems has developed the SPEAR, a fully autonomous vehicle-mounted 120mm soft-recoil mortar system that can be easily integrated onto 4×4 or 6×6 light armored or tactical vehicles.
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Self-contained 120mm Spear mortar system mounted on a US JLTV 4×4 MRAP armored vehicle. (Image source Elbit Systems)
In September 2017, the Israeli company Elbit Systems presented the SPEAR Mk 2, an improved version of the operationally proven Spear 120 mm autonomous mortar system. The latest version of the Spear has a high recoil reduction capability, without affecting the Cardom mortar system and the well-known Spear effectiveness. The mortar system is easily installed on a variety of light combat vehicles enabling agility and performance in tactical operations.
The SPEAR Mk 2 has a recoil reduction system which reduces mortar firing loads from 30+ tons to as little as 12-15 tons, the “soft recoil” allows the SPEAR to be mounted on a variety of tactical vehicles high mobility lightweights such as HMMWVs, jeeps and other high mobility rapid deployment wheeled platforms as well as larger wheeled or tracked platforms.
According to a video published by Elbit Systems on January 14, 2022, the SPEAR demonstrated its ability to be integrated into a 4×4 light armored vehicle with regard to the JLTV, Joint Light Tactical Vehicle currently in service with or ordered by the United States, Belgium, Brazil, Lithuania, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Slovenia.
The JLTV 4×4 armored vehicle-mounted SPEAR will offer a new lightweight artillery fire support vehicle that can be quickly deployed by military transport aircraft or used by airborne troops.
The vehicle-mounted SPEAR is operated by a crew of three and can be used in autonomous or manual mode. The crew can be reduced to two people thanks to the on-board sensors that can transmit targeting data to the fire control system (FCS). The FCS analyzes ballistic data and controls the electric drive system to point the mortar cannon at particular azimuth and elevation angles. The feedback is transmitted to the mortar fire control system via a GPS-based north finder system and an inclinometer.
The mortar is loaded through the use of an automatic loader. The vehicle-mounted SPEAR can fire the first shot in 60 seconds and it has a maximum rate of fire of 15 rounds per minute. The mortar can fire a wide range of 120 mm NATO mortar rounds with a maximum firing range of 10 km and a circular error probability (CEP) of 30 m.