On December 26, 2022, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) and Hanwha Aerospace signed a contract worth $460 million for the next order of the KSM120 Skyfall self-propelled mortars and associated fire direction center vehicles.

Korea has a fairly large artillery force. In addition to howitzer systems, there are about 500-600 self-propelled mortars based on the K-200 infantry fighting vehicle chassis. In February 2022, the first batch of domestically developed 120 mm self-propelled mortar systems, the KSM120 Skyfall, was delivered to the Republic of Korea Army (RoKA). The new systems will replace the aging 107mm M30 mortars currently integrated into the K242A1 107mm self-propelled mortar based on the K200A1 tracked armored personnel carrier (APC).

Photo Credit: Kim Sang Yeon

Most recently, on December 26, 2022, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) and Hanwha Aerospace signed a contract worth $460 million for the next order of the KSM120 Skyfall self-propelled mortars and associated fire direction center vehicles. According to a South Korean defense official, “The 120 mm self-propelled mortar is a core asset that elevates the operational capacities of South Korean mechanized units in charge of offensive maneuver missions to another level.”

The KSM120 Skyfall will serve as a regimental fire support asset in mechanized infantry divisions. Over legacy 107mm mortars, the KSM120 is claimed to have 2.3x greater range and 1.9x firepower. A single mortar company has been reduced from 32 to 24 personnel through the introduction of KSM120.

Photo Credit: Kim Sang Yeon

The new 120 mm self-propelled mortar system features a computerised fire control system (FCS) and a semi-automatic loading system. These aids enable the mortar crew to launch a variety of mortar bombs at a sustained rate of fire of up to 3 rounds per minute, or a maximum rate of fire of up to 10 rounds per minute for up to 3 minutes.

The rifled mortar weighs 1,400 kg and is mounted on a turntable that can traverse 360° and can elevate between 45° and 70°, engaging targets as far as 8 km away with standard high-explosive projectiles or up to 13 km away using rocket assisted projectiles. The new system is operated by a four-person crew comprising the driver, commander, gunner, and loader.

Photo Credit: Kim Sang Yeon

KSM120 Skyfall is built on the chassis of K200A1, an indigenous APC inspired by US IFV. It provides protection against 12.7 mm rounds on the sides, 7.62 mm ammunition in the rear, larger shell splinter from the ground, and anti-personnel mines. The vehicle is fitted with a 350 hp MAN-Doosan D2848T engine, for a maximum road speed of up to 70 km/h, a range of 480 km.

DAPA noted that the new mortar system will be operated alongside new fire direction vehicles. Production of the mortar systems cost around US$649 million, while the fire direction centre vehicles are worth around US$86 million.

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