The Ukrainian Armed Forces recently received a new batch of 120mm self-propelled mortars from Lithuania.
In a video posted on social media, Ukrainian soldiers are operating self-propelled mortars. It is known that this is a self-propelled mortar system M113 Panzermörser 120 mm. Ukrainian media reported that the Armed Forces of Ukraine received 12 units of M113, including 10 units of 120 mm Panzermörser self-propelled mortars and 2 units of armored command vehicles. Lithuania is among the countries providing defense support to Ukraine to counter the Russian invasion.
The German-made Lithuanian 120 mm Panzermörser, built on the US Army’s M113’s chassis, is used for high-angle support against lightly armored targets. It was procured for the German Army in 1969 to 1978. Modifications to the M113 included an enlarged, split roof hatch that opens to the sides and a welded tailgate, as well as a center traverse in the rear combat compartment that simultaneously diverts shot energy to the chassis.
A 120 mm mortar is mounted in the rear combat compartment as the main weapon system. Depending on the year of introduction, the vehicles have different mortars. In the early years, only Tampella mortars were installed. The mortar is attached to the center traverse and can be adjusted laterally within a range of about 40° and vertically by about 50°. The maximum firing range is 6,350 m; the maximum shooting height is 3,000 m. Furthermore, the mortar can be used for direct aiming.
In order to maintain contact with the fire control vehicle, the carriers have an SEM 52-S/FZ/46 for short distances. As part of improvements, a data radio computer MRT 86 was also tested for transmitting fire commands. The data calculator allows precise calculation and thus more effective fire on the target.
The advantages of the weapon system lie in its mobility and tactical availability. Unlike artillery fire, mortar fire can be requested and coordinated at the battalion level. In this case, a company commander can request fire support. The small size of the weapon system also allows it to be used effectively in urban areas. For self-defense, the 120 mm Panzermörser is armed with a 7.62 mm MG3 machine gun, for anti-aircraft and combat light ground targets.
According to open data, about 40 German Panzermörser self-propelled mortars are in service with the Lithuanian army. Lithuania received 42 such vehicles from Germany in 2005-2006. In 2013, the Ministry of Defense of Lithuania signed a € 6.6 million deal with the Israeli Elbit for the modernization of the Panzermörser fleet. The updated vehicles entered the Lithuanian army in 2015. The vehicles received a new digital fire control system. Devices for observing and adjusting fire were also improved. In addition, mortar barrels were replaced in the course of modernization.
It was reported that Lithuania had already handed over a total of 62 M113 armored personnel carriers to Ukraine. Lithuania’s military assistance to Ukraine includes a variety of weapons, ammunition, thermal imaging, drones, anti-drone equipment, military training and other aid.