April 13, 2007 The long-awaited Future Combat Systems (FCS) Non-Line-of-Sight (NLOS) Mortar Firing Platform has had its first outing, successfully firing its first shot (an M931 training round) last week. The successful firing was the first in a series of tests being conducted to confirm the reliability of the NLOS Mortar's unique breech-loading system and its other advanced armament technologies that enable greater rates of fire and firing angles, as well as the ability for Soldiers to fire the weapon under armor - a capability mortar crews don’t have today.
The FCS program is managed for the U.S. Army by Boeing and Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) and consists of 14 systems and a network to tie all the sensors, manned and robotic platforms and weapons to soldiers. The NLOS Mortar Firing Platform features an automated, single-tube, breech-loaded 120-mm smoothbore turreted mortar mounted on a test stand. With a mission to provide short to midrange indirect fire support for manoeuvre forces, the NLOS Mortar is one of eight Manned Ground Vehicles being designed and built as part of FCS - the Army's premier modernization program comprising a networked, fully integrated family of manned ground vehicles, unmanned ground and air vehicles, and sensors. "As proven in Iraq, responsive fire support and enhanced mortar crew protection are combat essentials," said Jim Unterseher, vice president of Army Programs at BAE Systems in Minneapolis. "The successful test firing is a testament to the ingenuity of the BAE Systems design team and its commitment to provide soldiers with greater protection, safety and performance on the battlefield through the development of the Army's first-ever breech-loaded mortar."
BAE Systems will continue NLOS Mortar Firing Platform tests, including those for Multiple Round Simultaneous Impact (MRSI) missions, during the coming weeks. Following a series of successful tests, the Firing Platform will be upgraded with an early prototype of the entire mission module equipment suite, which will have 80 percent commonality with the NLOS Cannon, and then delivered to the Army for additional testing. BAE Systems is committed to delivering the first NLOS Mortar prototypes by 2011.