The Swiss Federal Armaments Office (Armasuisse) has granted prime contractor GDELS-Mowag approval to begin series production of the 12cm (120mm) Mortar 16. A total of 48 mortar systems will be manufactured in eastern Switzerland, with deliveries to the army commencing in 2025. The Piranha IV 8×8 wheeled infantry fighting vehicle from GDELS-Mowag will serve as the carrier vehicle for the 12cm Mortar 16, while the Cobra mortar gun from RUAG AG will be the primary weapon system. The procurement of the 12cm Mortar 16 is being funded through two tranches approved by the Swiss Parliament. The first tranche, approved in 2016, allocated 404 million francs for 32 mortar systems, carrier vehicles, and associated equipment. The second tranche, approved in 2022, provided an additional 175 million francs for an additional 12 mortar systems.
The decision to move into full-scale production follows the successful completion of extensive testing of the 12cm Mortar 16 prototype, which was developed between 2017 and 2019. The 12cm Mortar 16 will fill a critical gap in the army’s indirect fire support capabilities, which have been lacking since the retirement of the 64/91 mortar carriers in 2009. Under the 2022 armaments programme, the Swiss Federal Parliament has approved procurement of a second tranche of the mortar systems with a value of CHF175 million. The contract also covers protected trucks for ammunition resupply and operational support. The 32 mortar systems in the first tranche are currently being manufactured and will be handed over between 2024 and 2025. Delivery of the additional systems planned is planned from 2026.
The Piranha IV is the fourth generation of the Piranha family of armoured vehicles by MOWAG GmbH. As the Piranha IV was being developed, the ownership of MOWAG changed. It was acquired by General Dynamics in 2004 to become part of General Dynamics European Land Systems. Standard armour offers all-round 14.5mm AP protection and 20mm-23mm AP on front. Can offer full protection for the crew if a 10 kg explosive AT mine explodes under the hull. As with all PIRANHA platforms, the new PIRANHA 3+ can be equipped with an amphibious drive to operate as a marine infantry vehicle. Adds-on can offer all-round protection to 25mm AP rounds and level 5 STANAG 4569. GDELS-Mowag developed a state-of-the-art driveline and suspension system for the Piranha IV, combined with a powerful SCANIA diesel engine and ZF automatic transmission.
The overall project includes 16 ancillary systems, revised ammunition specifically designed for the new mortar, and integration with the existing INTAFF fire management and fire control system. The Cobra is a high-tech mortar system designed by Swiss company RUAG Defence. The COBRA can be easily integrated into any tracked or wheeled vehicle and is designed so users can be quickly trained to a high standard of operation. A key factor is the use of an electric drive to ensure both the accuracy and the speed of the system, whilst ballistic computing enables MRSI (Multiple Rounds Simultaneous Impact) firing. The Cobra protects users against incorrect operation or double loading when operating at night or in extreme weather. The recoil force is 30 tonnes in 30 milliseconds. The firing of the first round needs less than 60 seconds.