Slovakia debuts rapid-fire mortar at local defense show

Slovakia debuts rapid-fire mortar at local defense show

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — Slovakia has unveiled a 120mm self-propelled mortar advertised as firing 20 rounds of ammunition per minute, a rate that would make it one of the fastest in Europe.

Minister of Defense Robert Kalinak presented the multi-company product during the country’s flagship defense fair here, IDEB, which runs May 14-16. The AM-120, which stands for automatic mortar, melds technology from two Slovak defense firms and a Czech military vehicle manufacturer.

The turret is provided by ZTS Special, a gun producer based in the northern part of Slovakia, and was designed for 6×6-type vehicles. The Tatra 815-7 6×6 chassis is supplied by the Czech firm Excalibur Army while the Lansys fire control system is a product of the private Slovak company, Kerametal.

A ZTS Special representative told Defense News at the show that the development of the mortar began two years ago and was most recently tested a month ago.

The weapon’s main selling point, according to the manufacturer, is that it can fire approximately 20 rounds per minute, reaching distances of over eight kilometers, or five miles. It is designed to work closely with infantry units near the front lines.

The AM-120 can carry 60 rounds, meaning one full load could be blasted out within minutes before the vehicle moves on to avoid triangulation by enemy sensors. That “shoot-and-scoot” tactic has been on display in Ukraine’s defense against Russia, with both sides employing counter-fire radars that can pick up a projectile’s origin within minutes.

An analysis published earlier this year by the European Council on Foreign Relations highlighted that the Russian counter-battery fire response time is around three minutes.

Slovakia’s AM-120 will rival the Finnish NEMO 120mm self-propelled mortar, produced by Patria Group. It is the only other European system in this category advertised as reaching a maximum rate of fire of 20 shots per minute, but has a longer range than the Slovak-made mortar, capable of hitting targets located more than 10 kilometers away.

Meanwhile, neighbor Poland also produces a mortar system that can be mounted on tracked and wheeled vehicles, the M120 RAK. Designed by Polish defense company Huta Stalowa Wola, it is in service with the Ukrainian Army.

The Ministry of Defense of Slovakia has not yet announced any order for the new mortar.

Elisabeth Gosselin-Malo is a Europe correspondent for Defense News. She covers a wide range of topics related to military procurement and international security, and specializes in reporting on the aviation sector. She is based in Milan, Italy.

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