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81mm L16


USA: M252


Overview


81mm L16A2

British soldier firing a L16A2 mortar while on deployment in Afghanistan.
Source: UK MoD - © Open Government License

Origin
United Kingdom
Type
Medium mortar
Entered service
1965 for L16
1987 for M252
Status
In service
Development
1956 - Early 1960's
Developer
United Kingdom - RARDE
Production
1965 - present
Producer
United Kingdom - Royal Ordnance
Japan - Howa (1990's - present?)
United States - Watervliet Arsenal (1987 present)
Unit cost
10 million Yen in 2012 (Japanese production)
Number produced
Over 5.000
Designations
M252 (United States service)
F2 (Australian service)
Notable users
United Kingdom
United States
Japan

Description


Introduction

The L16 is a Cold War era smoothbore 81mm mortar of UK origin. It was introduced in 1965 to replace the 76mm ML 3-inch mortar in British service. At the time of introduction the L16 was far more capable than other mortars in the same category.

Design

The L16 is a smoothbore muzzle loaded mortar with a conventional layout. It consists of a strong and heavy tube on a round baseplate. The bipod that houses the sight assembly is unconventional, as it essentially is a monopod with a strut to ensure stability. The US M252 variant is fitted with a muzzle device that diverts the blast away from the mortar crew.

Firepower

The L16 fires its own new range of 81mm rounds, but US World War 2 era mortar rounds can be used as well. The range of mortar shells developed for the L16 have both a longer range and an increased lethal radius. With these shells the maximum range is 5.7 km. The sustained rate of fire is 15 rounds per minute.

Mobility

The L16 mortar can be disassembled in three loads which can be transported over short distances by infantry. Over longer distances the L16 is carried in a utility vehicle or light truck. The L16 has also been mounted in a variety of self-propelled mortar systems, including the FV432, Bv-206MC and LAV-81.

Users

The primary users of the L16 mortar are the UK and the USA, which uses it in the M252 variant. It has been exported to many nations and over 5.000 have been produced.

Variants


81mm L16A2

Dutch soldier with 81mm L16A2 mortar in firing position.
Source: Ministerie van Defensie - © Public domain

List of L16 production models

L16
First production model, introduced in 1965.
L16A1
Improved production model with various minor changes.
L16A2
Version of the L16A1 with slightly heavier barrel.
M252
Derivative of the L16A2 for US service, introduced in 1987. In US service a blast attenuation device is mounted onto the muzzle. This reduced blast effects on the crew.
M252A1
Lightweight variant of the M252 that was introduced in the US Army in 2014. Total weight is reduced from 45.2 kg to 35.8 kg.
M252A2
US Marine Corps development which weight 37 kg. Fitted with new sight unit and improved cooling mechanism.

Details


Facts 81mm L16A2 81mm M252
General
Origin
United Kingdom
Type
Mortar
Crew
3
Dimensions
Weight
39.6 kg for L16A2
35.3 kg for L16
Length
1.4 m overall
Ordnance
Type
81mm smoothbore mortar
Barrel length
1.28 m
Muzzle velocity
225 m/s
Elevation
+45 to +85°
Traverse
18°
Fire control
Sights
C2 indirect fire sight with illumination
Firepower
Rate of fire
20 rpm maximum
15 rpm normal
1 to 12 rpm sustained
Range
5.650 m maximum
100 m minimum

Media


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