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Ratel 81



Overview


Ratel 81

Right side view of Ratel 81 mortar carrier. Note the two large semi-circular hatches on the roof.
Source: www.61mech.org.za - © Copyright lies with original owner

Origin
South Africa
Type
Self-propelled mortar
Entered service
Mid 1980's
Status
In service
Development
Early 1980's
Developer
South Africa
Production
1985 - 1987
Producer
South Africa
Notable users
South Africa

Description


Introduction

The Ratel 81 is a self-propelled mortar of South African origin. It was developed to provide mobile fire support for mechanized infantry. The Ratel 81 is faster in and out of action than a mortar transported by truck. It is also better protected. A prototype with a 120mm mortar was developed and tested in 1994. This was called the Ratel 120, but it was not adopted.

Layout

The Ratel 81 is the mortar carrier variant of the Ratel series of infantry fighting vehicles. It was one of the last variants to be developed. Instead of a turret there is a circular opening in the roof that is covered by two large hatches. An 81mm mortar is installed on a turntable within the vehicle. When required the mortar can be used away from the vehicle by using a base plate and bipod. The rear compartment that normally carries an infantry section is modified to carry ammunition.

Firepower

The 81mm M-3 mortar has a maximum range of 4.850 meters. It is normally used to fire HE and smoke rounds. The turntable allows for a 360 degree traverse. A total of 148 mortar bombs are stacked in the ammunition racks. The mortar has no direct fire capability. For self-defense a 7.62mm MG4 AA machine gun is fitted on a pintle mount. The MG4 AA is a World War 2 era Browning M1919A4 machine gun converted to fire the 7.62x51mm NATO round.

Protection

The steel hull protects the crew from small arms fire and shell splinters. When firing the roof hatches are open and the crew is partly exposed. The Ratel's mobility and fast time in and out of action provides a degree of protection from counter battery fire.

Mobility

The Ratel 6x6 chassis provides good mobility on roads and in the field. The design is geared towards off road use in the bush, and mobility in harsh terrain is somewhat limited. The turbocharged diesel engine provides up to 275 hp. Maximum speed on roads is 105 km/h and operational range is 1.000 km.

Users

The Ratel 81 was acquired by South Africa. From the mid 1980's onwards it was actively used during the Bush War. In recent years the Ratel series of vehicles has been exported to several nations, but these do not seem to include the Ratel 81. Today the Ratel 81 remains in active service in South Africa, but is likely to be replaced in the future with a variant of the Badger.

Details


Facts Ratel 81
General
Origin
South Africa
Type
Self-propelled mortar
Crew
3 + 3
Dimensions
Weight
18.5 t combat load
Length
7.21 m
Width
2.7 m
Height
2.5 m
Main armament
Type
81mm M-3 smoothbore muzzle loaded mortar
Mount
Crew compartment, fires through roof hatches
Ammunition
148 mortar shells
Traverse
360 degrees, manual
Max range
4.850 meters
Stabilizer
No, cannot fire on the move
Direct fire
No direct fire capability
Secondary armament
Type
7.62mm MG4 AA machine gun
Mount
Pintle mount at rear of vehicle
Ammunition
1.200 rounds in total, 100 rounds ready to fire
Traverse
Manual traverse and elevation
Chassis
Chassis type
Wheeled
Configuration
6x6
Wheelbase
2.8 m + 1.4 m
Tire size
14.00 x20
Automotive
Engine
B├╝ssing D 3256 BTXF 12-liter six-cylinder liquid-cooled turbo diesel
Power
282 hp at 2.200 rpm
Transmission
Renk HSU 106
Automatic, 6 forward, 2 reverse
Fuel
480 L
Mobility
Speed
105 km/h on road
30 km/h off road
Range
1.000 km on road
600 km off road
Power to weight ratio
15.2 hp/t
Turn radius
8.5 m
Obstacle crossing
Ground clearance
0.34 m
Wall
0.6 m
Trench
1.2 m
Gradient
27 degrees
Fording
1.2 m
Protection
Armor type
Steel
Armor thickness
20 mm hull front
8 to 10mm hull sides and rear
Smoke system
4x 81mm smoke grenade dischargers