Slovakia Unveils 20 Rounds/Minute 'AM-120' Self-Propelled Mortar

Slovakia Debuts Rapid-Fire Mortar at Defense Show

Slovakia Debuts Rapid-Fire Mortar at Defense Show that can reportedly fire 20 rounds per minute, one of the highest rates of fire for a mortar system in Europe. The automatic mortar was presented by Defense Minister Robert Kalinak at the IDEB defense exhibition in Slovakia this week.

The AM-120 is a collaborative program combining technology from Slovak defense firms ZTS Special and Kerametal with a chassis from Czech company Excalibur Army. ZTS Special provides the 120mm mortar turret designed for 6×6 armored vehicles, while Kerametal contributes the Lansys fire control system. The Tatra 815-7 6×6 truck serves as the mortar carrier.

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Rapid ‘Shoot and Scoot’ Fires

According to ZTS Special, development of the AM-120 began two years ago with testing completed just last month. Its key capability is an extremely high rate of fire around 20 rounds per minute out to ranges over 8 km (5 miles).

This allows the mortar to rapidly unleash a full ammunition load of 60 rounds in just 3 minutes before quickly repositioning to avoid counter-battery fire, a vital “shoot and scoot” tactic employed in Ukraine. Analysis shows Russian forces can respond with counter fires in just 3 minutes.

The AM-120’s rapid salvo rate rivals the Finnish Patria NEMO 120mm self-propelled mortar, also capable of 20 rounds/minute but with a longer 10 km range. Meanwhile, Poland produces the tracked/wheeled M120 RAK 120mm mortar used by Ukrainian forces.

Valuable Mobile Firepower

Self-propelled mortars provide highly mobile, rapid-fire indirect fire support to frontline infantry units without the need for a stationary firing pit. The vehicles can keep up with advancing troops and reposition after unleashing salvos to avoid counter-battery fire.

“This new Slovak mortar system could be a very valuable new capability for artillery units,” said Pavel Protzko, an artillery specialist with the Slovak Security Policy Institute. “Its extremely high rate of fire allows saturating an area with accurate indirect fires from a mobile platform before quickly repositioning.”

While the Slovak Ministry of Defense has not yet placed orders, the AM-120 could provide mechanized units with a powerful new mobile Fire support capability enhancing combined arms operations. The three-firm industry team aims to market the system both domestically and for export.

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