There is no difference in the capabilities offered by mortars and automatic grenade launchers in urban fighting, according to a newly released Canadian Army report.
The May 2003 study, obtained by Defence Watch, examined the use of a Company Area Suppression Weapon in urban operations. The study, called Iron Bombard, looked at the ability of several weapon systems to provide the Light Armoured Vehicle-3 Rifle Company with an internal suppression/neutralizing capability in an urban environment.
The report, obtained under the Access to Information law, was withheld for two years and only released after the Army was able to move ahead with its plans to purchase an automatic grenade launcher. Army officers have said that the grenade launcher will provide more and accurate firepower than the 60mm mortar, which will taken out of service since it is too old and considered unsupportable.
Bids from two companies are now in for the Army’s Close Area Suppression Weapon (CASW) project. There is no indication when the winning bid will be selected but defence sources expect that to be completed by January or February 2010.
The weapon systems tested in Iron Bombard were used in the offence and defence during a series of house to house clearing scenarios, according to the report. The infantry section was also equipped with machine guns and rifles.
“The study concluded that no differences between the capabilities of the Advance Grenade Launcher and the mortars were observed, however the Advanced Grenade Launcher could make a contribution to the effectiveness of the Rifle Company and the 60mm and 81mm light mortars provided value because of their ability to provide smoke screens,” the report concluded. “The study recommends that the Advanced Grenade Launcher be considered as a possible support weapon for the LAV 111 Rifle Company and that there may be a requirement to retain mortars in the support mix.”
Iron Bombard was done because the present weapon system available is the 60mm M19 Mortar, generally considered by the Canadian Army to lack the range, lethality and accuracy to be effective. In order to alleviate that deficiency an 81mm light mortar and a 40 mm advanced grenade launcher were evaluated using the close action environment urban combat war game.
Meanwhile, the evaluation of the bids on CASW continues at Public Works. Rheinmetall Canada and Singapore Technologies each put in a bid, Defense Watch has learned.
Rheinmetall had offered the army the Heckler and Koch 40mm grenade launcher which is being used by 16 militaries, including many NATO nations. Singapore Technologies, which has kept a low profile during the competition, has its own 40mm grenade launcher and ammunition. If the Singapore Technologies gun is selected, then Canada would join the small number of nations which use the weapon.
The winner will be selected on the basis of the lowest cost meeting the requirements outlined by the Army.
Testing of both weapons was done several weeks ago at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown, NB, according to sources.
The $100 million CASW project has been repeatedly delayed, with some industry officials pointing to it as an example of the major problems plague the Defence Department’s procurement system.
In 2004, Canadian Army officers said the weapons would be delivered in August 2006 for eventual use in Afghanistan. Then the delivery date was later set as the summer of 2008.
Later the delivery of the guns was revised to occur in late 2009.
The new date for delivery is now 2012.
For more Canadian Forces and Defence Department news or articles by David Pugliese of the Ottawa Citizen go to David Pugliese’s Defence Watch at: