Rheinmetall Waffe Munition has announced the RSG60, a 60mm man-pack mortar that can be configured based on role and tasking. The tube can reconfigured in as little as 30 seconds from the infantry variant with base plate and monopod to the handheld commando version.
The RSG60 weighs in at just under 16 kilograms in infantry mode and less than half that, at 6.8 kilograms, in commando mode. The infantry variant offers ranges out to 3700 meters whilst the commando offers a respectable 2000 meters, far out-distancing underslung grenade launchers (UGL) which are often argued have replaced the light mortar in the infantry platoon. The British Army for instance have recently retired the 60mm mortar after purchasing it as an urgent operational requirement to replace their 51mm on operations in Afghanistan with the claim that the L123A2 UGL could provide the necessary indirect fire capability.
The feedback from British users in Helmand province is mixed with high praise sung for the 51mm in most quarters whilst the 60mm seems to have been under-utilised. The reason is likely the early lack of comprehensive 81mm and artillery coverage during the 2006 and 2007 fighting seasons for isolated patrol bases, forcing the infantry to rely heavily on their organic weapons systems.
The 60mm M224 and M224A1 remain on the TO&E (table of organisation and equipment) of the US Army and Marines at company level. Within SOF (special operations forces), the weapon remains popular, fielded by Army Special Forces teams and Ranger companies. A 60mm platform has also recently been adopted by Australia’s 2 Commando against the wider Australian Army decision to adopt the Heckler and Koch GMG grenade launcher in lieu of a 60mm indirect fire platform.
The selling point of the RSG60 is likely more one of commonality that will appeal to simplifying logistics – one type of mortar for both SOF and conventional infantry – rather than the ability to rapidly reconfigure which, like many weapons systems sold on modularity, would be rarely required on operations. The RSG60 could see a role in its commando variant with airborne and air assault forces whilst mechanised infantry could employ the infantry variant.
Rheinmetall offers the IHE or Insensitive High Explosive (IHE) round for the RSG60 which according to the company offers similar kinetic effects as a standard 81mm HE round. They also offer standard high explosive (HE) and illumination including infra-red only, and a range of obscurant smoke rounds.