Defense industry develops GPS mortar shell

IMI develops GPS mortar shell, plans to complete protection system for tanks, APCs by 2010.

GPS-guided mortar 224 88 (photo credit: Israel Military Industries)
GPS-guided mortar 224 88
(photo credit: Israel Military Industries)
Implementing the lessons of the Second Lebanon War, Israel Military Industries has designed a mortar shell that uses a satellite guidance system to accurately hit its target. The 120mm mortar shell is in the final stages of development by IMI and the American Raytheon defense company. The shell has a range of 10 kilometers and with the GPS system hits targets within a three-meter radius. The built-in guidance system also allow operators to direct the mortar shell to its target with a laser-honing device. Officials said the "smart mortar" would improve infantry units' ability to neutralize enemy forces that were positioned out of sight. Since the shell is especially accurate, IMI CEO Avi Felder said military units would be able to carry fewer mortar shells into battle while achieving the same level of lethality as in the past. The new mortar shell was unveiled on Tuesday at a press conference held at IMI headquarters in Ramat Hasaharon ahead of the government-owned defense industry's 75th anniversary next week. In 2007, IMI had $575 million in sales, and forecasts for 2008 are that the company will take in $676m., Felder said. It is currently investing $85m. in research and development per year. One of the company's key products that is currently undergoing final testing is the Iron Fist active protection system for tanks and armored personnel carriers. IMI says it can neutralize all anti-tank threats, including kinetic (those without explosive charges) shells fired by enemy tanks. Iron Fist is in its final stages of testing, according to Felder, and will be installed on the IDF's new Namer APCs by the end of the year. It will likely become fully operational by the end of the decade. The IDF plans to install Rafael Defense Systems' Trophy active protection system on Merkava tanks in 2009. The Iron Fist consists of a radar and passive optical system that detects incoming threats and destroys them within a fraction of a second using a combustible blast interceptor. Unlike the Trophy, which fires off a large number of projectiles, the Iron Fist intercepts incoming threats by using a rocket the shape of a mortar shell that destroys the threat with a blast that crushes its soft components or deflects the missile or kinetic projectile in flight. Felder said several countries had expressed interest in the Iron Fist and that IMI planned to hold a series of simulations for foreign military officers in the coming months.