Green Beret‘s from the U.S. Army’s 3rd Special Forces Group are actively testing a new vehicle-mounted and highly-mobile system that can quickly move and set up a 120mm mortar around the battlefield.
The new system is called the SLING and is a vehicle-mounted mechanical arm that moves a 120mm mortar tube on and off the vehicle. The mortar system, which was developed by Elbit Systems of America, allows users to rapidly set up the mortar on the ground and fire it without transferring the heavy recoil from the artillery piece to the light vehicle.
An Oct. 2021 video by Elbit America shows the mortar system in action.
In October, Janes reported U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has purchased one of the Sling mobile mortar systems.
Last week, Task & Purpose reported the 3rd Special Forces Group is actively testing out the mortar system and has been involved in the development process for the mortar system for the past two years.
Sgt. 1st Class Zach VanDyke told Task & Purpose that 3rd Special Forces Group’s partnership with Elbit is meant to “develop, test, and field” the new mortar system.
VanDyke said Elbit “is said to be in the final stages of development and testing” for the Sling and 3rd Special Forces Group soldiers have been working to make sure the SLING “meets and surpasses the developer’s expectations for the revolutionary system.”
It is not clear if the Army has selected the SLING to fill a specific weapon requirement yet, but it’s potential usefulness is apparent to SOCOM.
“The system will allow for more mobile and versatile capabilities on the battlefield for combatant commanders and other leaders to consider when planning both defensive and offensive operations,” VanDyke told Task & Purpose.
Chris Kennedy, the marketing director for Elbit Systems of America, told Janes that the SLING mortar system is already in use with Israeli Defense Forces.
The Army already fields three different 120mm mortar systems developed by Elbit. The Army uses an Elbit-made M121 mortar system in its armored M1064 mortar carrier vehicle and will use that same system in its new XM1287 Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle— the new armored vehicle that will replace the M1064 mortar carrier. The Army also uses a version of the M121 mortar on its Stryker M1129 Mortar Carrier variant. Dismounted Army troops also have M120A1 Towed Mortar System.
While the 120mm mortars can be mounted and fired from larger tactical vehicles, such weapons cannot be fired from inside a smaller tactical vehicle like a Humvee without transferring the weapon’s heavy recoil to the vehicle itself. Having a system that can quickly set up a 120mm mortar tube on the ground and then place it in a light tactical vehicle would allow troops to rapidly move the weapon around on the battlefield.
According to Elbit America, the sling can be set up in 30 to 60 seconds and can be operated by just two people.
The mortar can fire as fast as 16 mortar rounds per minute or a sustained fire rate of three to four rounds per minute. The M120 mortar has an effective range of about seven kilometers.
The SLING also includes an onboard fire-control system that allows users to precisely aim and fire the mortar.