Upgrading armored vehicles with the 120mm Mounted Mortar System will allow the Philippine Army to standardize its entire fleet of self-propelled artillery to the 120mm NATO standard
On December 29, 2021, 15 units of M125A2 Armored Mortar Carrier with 120mm Mounted Mortar System (MMS) were delivered to the Philippines by Elbit Systems of Israel. This is part of a range of products offered for the AFP Modernization Program under Horizon 2. This deal goes to show the strong commitment between the Philippines and Israel to further strengthen its defense relations, as Israel is already among the biggest market for defense and security related products for the Philippine government in the past 5 years.
The Cardom is available in both 81mm and 120mm variant, and is fully computerized, autonomous, and was designed to be mounted on light or medium armoured vehicles like the M113. The 120mm Cardom has a range of 7km, has a maximum rate of fire of 16 rounds per minute, and can be used in “shoot and scoot” manner to have the element of surprise and avoid enemy counter fire.
The system can be operated by only 2 crewmen, although it is said to be easier with a 4-man crew. It can use a variety of ammunition of 120mm NATO standard, and is in operation with the Israel Defense Force, US Army, and several other countries.
Cardom of the Philippines will be controlled by a computer instead of being manually-operated. This allows for faster operations and less stress on the mortar crew due to automation. Being armored mortar carriers, the M113s to receive the Cardom mortars will have a wide roof opening to allow the safe and effective use of the mortar system. The Philippine Army is expected to not have any trouble accepting the M113s as it is already a long time user of the type.
Upgrading armored vehicles with the 120mm Mounted Mortar System will allow the Philippine Army to standardize its entire fleet of self-propelled artillery to the 120mm NATO standard, and increasing the firepower of the upcoming mortars due to the 120mm mortar’s longer range and heavier warhead.
It is not clear if the Philippine Army uses Elbit’s LG2MK 120mm smart mortar round. This allows the Cardom mortar system to fire precision munitions and obtain a first shot hit, which improves accuracy and sure kill hit, reduces collateral damage, and munition wastage.
The introduction of the Soltam Cardom mortar system allows Mechanized units to have its own quick-moving short range artillery support anytime without relying on heavy artillery howitzers. This is in addition to the 81mm and 60mm infantry mortars assigned to mechanized infantry units. In other foreign armies, 120mm mortar with smart and standard munitions actually replaced the 105mm towed howitzer, like in the case of the Singapore Army.