As part of the ongoing military operation against Hamas, the Israeli armed forces are deploying various types of weapons, including the latest models.
A few days ago Israel announced the first use of the Iron Sting 120 mm guided mortar munition. This product has been put into use recently and has so far been able to demonstrate its potential and properties only under testing conditions.
The Iron Sting is a 120 mm guided mortar munition developed by Elbit Systems of Israel, designed for use with the “Keshet” and “Hanit” mortars in service with the IDF’s Infantry Corps. It features dual guidance: laser and GPS, allowing for precise strikes, including in urban areas, minimizing the risk of collateral damage.
Development of the Iron Sting began in the early 2010s and continued after Elbit Systems acquired the military industry. In March 2021, the Iron Sting completed a successful series of tests, marking the end of its development phase and indicating its readiness for delivery to the IDF. The IDF procured the Iron Sting during 2021–2022, and it is operated by reconnaissance platoons. The 2023 Israel-Hamas War was the first time the Iron Sting in real combat.
On October 22, the IDF press service announced the start of the use of new guided munitions. Special forces unit No. 212 “Maglan” is participating in Operation Iron Swords. Its task is to identify and defeat enemy targets and weapons in the Gaza Strip and on the border with Lebanon.
The goal of the Iron Sting project was to create a promising guided munition with improved combat qualities for existing 120-mm mortar systems. The problem of increasing the accuracy and power of ammunition was solved through the simultaneous use of different guidance systems and a multi-mode fuse. As a result, in its design and appearance, the “Iron Sting” is noticeably different from other munitions.
The Iron Sting munition is made in an elongated torpedo-shaped body of the maximum possible volume with a shortened shank. In the center of the body there are deployable rudders, and in the tail there is a stabilizer of a similar design. Control devices are located in the head and central parts of the body; the remaining volumes are given over to the bursting charge. The tubular shank accommodates the propellant charge, and additional charges can also be installed. The total length of the munition is 950 mm, weight – 10,8 kg.
The ammunition is equipped with a combined control system. It includes satellite and inertial navigation devices, a semi-active laser homing head and an autopilot that generates commands for the rudders. There are three modes of operation of the equipment: coordinate guidance using satellite and inertial systems, a combination of INS and laser seeker, as well as the simultaneous use of all devices.
The target coordinates are entered using a standardized programmer included in various mortar systems, such as CARDOM. It takes 15 seconds to prepare the ammunition for firing. When using a semi-active seeker, the assistance of a gunner with a laser rangefinder-target designator is required. In search mode for a laser-illuminated target, Iron Sting shows a Circular error probable of no more than 1 m. Navigation systems give a Circular error probable of up to 10 m.
The high-explosive fragmentation warhead of the mine is detonated at the command of a three-mode fuse. It fires upon contact with a target, with a set delay or at a set height above the surface. It is reported that the guided “Sting” is compatible with all 120-mm mortars of NATO standards. At the same time, the munition is primarily intended for the CARDOM complex and is compatible with its standard fire control system and programmer. Other mortars must be additionally equipped with appropriate devices.