Wiesel 2 lePzMrs
|Manufacturer:||MAK SYSTEM GESELLSHAFT MBH|
|Product type:||Armoured Vehicles|
Like some other countries, the German Army is placing increased emphasis on its rapid reaction forces. This has led to the development and fielding of much lighter vehicles and weapon platforms that can more readily be transported by aircraft and helicopter. The latter includes the Sikorsky CH-53G that is used in large numbers by the German Army.
Some years ago, as a private venture, MaK System GmbH of Kiel (today known as Rheinmetall Landsysteme), started work as a private venture on an enhanced version of the Wiesel 1 light armoured vehicle.
This enhanced Wiesel finally emerged as the Wiesel 2 and has a significant increase in internal volume and load carrying capacity, enabling it to undertake a much wider range of battlefield missions.
The first customer for the Wiesel 2 is the German Army for its new low-level air defence system, for which the prime contractor is Rheinmetall Defence Electronics.
A total of 67 Wiesel 2 platforms have been supplied, 50 for the Ozelot weapon platform, 10 for the platoon command post and fitted with the HARD radar and seven battery command post vehicles.
The Wiesel 2 has since been developed by Rheinmetall Landsysteme as the baseline for a complete family of other vehicles including the 120 mm self-propelled mortar system.
Rheinmetall Landsysteme is responsible for the complete system including the vehicle, ammunition handing, fire-control concept, computer system and the electric system.
Rheinmetall Weapons & Munitions is responsible for the actual 120 mm mortar system and its associated family of 120 mm ammunition. Other members of the Wiesel 2 120 mm mortar team are Honeywell who are responsible for the navigation and laying system and rear support drive, ESG for the fire-control software and Wittenstein Motion Control for the actual gear drives.
The first prototype of the Wiesel 2 120 mm mortar system was completed in 1997 and based on a surplus Wiesel 1 chassis. This proved that the concept was viable and during company trials, over 200 rounds of 120 mm ammunition were fired.
Late in 2002, the German BWB awarded Rheinmetall Landsysteme a contract for the supply of two Wiesel 2 120 mm mortar systems, which were delivered for extensive trials in 2004.
The German Army designation for the vehicle is the Leichter Panzermorser 120 mm (Light Armoured Mortar 120 mm).
Following firepower and mobility trials in Germany, these two vehicles were put through extensive user trials in Yuma, Arizona for hot weather trials and in Sweden for cold weather trials. Almost 2,000 120 mm mortar bombs have been fired with various charges.
Under current plans it is expected that a total of 38 Wiesel 2 120 mm production systems will be supplied plus 60 command and support vehicles.
The latter will comprise 17 forward observer vehicles, 17 command and fire-control vehicles, 10 command post vehicles and 16 ammunition support vehicles although the latter role will now be undertaken by the Krauss-Maffei Wegmann MUNGO wheeled light armoured vehicle.
Typical units would consist of two mortar platoons each of four Wiesel 2 120 mm SP mortar systems plus a command post vehicle and fire-control centre.
These would also receive target information from a forward air controller and a forward observation officer. This would enable targets to be rapidly engaged with the most appropriate weapon system. This would be part of the Joint Fires Support Team (JFST).
The chassis is almost identical to that used for the Wiesel 2 vehicle. The driver is seated at the front right with the power pack, consisting of the diesel engine, transmission and cooling system, front left. The commander and ammunition loader are seated on the left and face inwards while the commander is also provided with a hatch and periscopes for all-round observation.
The actual 120 mm mortar is pivoted at the rear and when being loaded, is lowered into the horizontal position with the mortar bombs being fed into the muzzle manually.
The 120 mm mortar then returns to its designated firing position, fired and then returns to the loading position again. Loading the 120 mm mortar is carried out under complete NBC protection.
The 120 mm muzzle loaded smoothbore mortar has been fitted with a special recoil system and firing a standard 120 mm mortar bomb, a maximum range of 6,000 m is obtained.
Firing a recently developed Rheinmetall 120 mm HE bomb, which has yet to enter production, a maximum range of 8,000 m can be achieved. It can also fire smart 120 mm rounds, for example the Swedish terminally guided Strix up to a maximum length of 1,000 m.
A total of 25 rounds of 120 mm ammunition are carried plus two smart rounds. It is normally operated by a crew consisting of three: commander, loader and driver.
Under a separate contract, Rheinmetall Weapons and Munitions is developing a new generation of more effective ammunition for use with the 120 mm smooth bore mortar.
This will include an improved high-explosive mortar bomb with a multi-functional fuze with a maximum state range of 8 km. In addition there is a new illuminating mortar bomb and smoke/obscurant. These are all insensitive munition compliant.
The Wiesel 120 mm SP mortar system will have an on-board computerised fire-control system to allow for autonomous fire missions to be carried out.
Before firing commences, a stabiliser mounted to the immediate rear of each of the last road wheel station is lowered to the ground under electric power from within the vehicle. The mortar can be traversed 30° left and right and elevated from +35 up to +85° without moving the vehicle.
Using its onboard computer and hybrid navigation and laying system, the platform can automatically determine, not only its heading angle, but also its exact position and height. The 120 mm mortar can be brought into action much quicker than a conventional mortar system and can also quickly redeploy to a new fire position before counter battery fire arrives.
The main computer sends and receives information from the laying system, rear support system, safety electronics and navigation systems. Information is displayed on the commander's MRT 86 Central Operating and Display Unit (CODU) that is also linked to the communications system. The 120 mm mortar is laid onto the target and fired from the CODU.
According to Rheinmetall Landsysteme, it can open fire in under 60 seconds of coming to a halt. After each 120 mm mortar bomb is fired, the computer automatically adjusts the mortar so that firing accuracy is maintained. A rapid rate of fire of three rounds in 20 seconds can be achieved with a sustained rate of fire of six rounds a minute for three minutes.
The 120 mm mortar can be aimed, loaded and fired by the crew of three, with the commander, loader and driver being under complete protection from small arms fire and NBC attack.
The Wiesel 2 120 mm self-propelled mortar system can be carried internally in a CH-53G helicopter or, as an alternative it can be slung underneath of the helicopter.
Standard equipment includes an NBC system but as an option an air conditioning system can be fitted. Other options include onboard ballistic computation and automatic fuze selection.