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M224 60mm Lightweight Company Mortar System (LWCMS)

The M224 60mm LWCMS is ideally suited to support airborne, air assault, mountain, ranger, Special Operations Forces and light infantry units. The M224 can be drop fired (conventional mode) or trigger fired (conventional or hand-held mode). A lightweight auxiliary baseplate is used when firing the mortar in the hand-held mode.

Length: 40 inches (101.6 centimeters)
Weight: 46.5 pounds (21.11 kilograms)
Bore diameter: 60mm
Maximum effective range: 2.17 miles (3490 meters)
Rates of fire:
Maximum: 30 rounds/minute
Sustained: 20 rounds/minute
Unit Replacement Cost: $10,658
 

The M224 Mortar System consists of the following major components:


Mission: To provide the company commander with an indirect-fire weapon.

Features: The M224 60mm Lightweight Mortar is a smooth bore, muzzle loading, high-angle-of-fire weapon. The cannon assembly is composed of the barrel, combination base cap, and firing mechanism. The mount consists of a bipod and a base plate which is provided with screw type elevating and traversing mechanisms to elevate/traverse the mortar. The M64 sight unit is attached to the bipod mount via a standard dovetail. An additional short range sight is attached to the base of the cannon tube for firing the mortar on the move and during assaults. It has a spring-type shock absorber to absorb the shock of recoil in firing.

Background: The M224 replaced the older (WWII era) M2 and M19, 60mm Mortars. These weapons only possessed 2,200 yards of effective range. The M224 was designed to fire all types of the older ammunition, but its primary rounds are of the newer, longer-range type.

Mortar Cartridges

The three primary types of mortar fires are as follows:

60-mm Mortar Cartridges

M720/888 60mm High Explosive Cartridges

The M720 and M888 High Explosive Cartridges are designed for use with the M224 60mm Mortar System and are used against personnel, bunker and light materiel targets. The high fragmentation steel projectile is loaded with Composition B explosive. The M720 and M888 are identical with the exception of the fuze. The M720 is equipped with the M734 Multi-Option Fuze which can be set to function in the Proximity, Near Surface Burst, Impact, or Delay mode. The M888 is equipped with the M935 Point Detonating Fuze which functions in the Impact mode.

 

The M720/888 consists of the following major components:

Propelling
Charge Zone
Muzzle
Velocity
Minimum
Range
Maximum
Range
0 65 m/s 70 m 400 m
1 126 m/s 200 m 1300 m
2 170 m/s 350 m 2100 m
3 208 m/s 500 m 2800 m
4 241 m/s 650 m 3500 m

Maximum Rate of Fire.........30 rounds/min (4 minutes)
Sustained Rate of Fire..........20 rounds/min
Cartridge Weight..........1.68 kg (3.7 lb)
M720 Type Classified Standard..........July 1977
M888 Type Classified Standard..........March 1983

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M722 60mm Smoke Cartridge

The M722 Smoke Cartridge is designed for use with the M224 60mm Mortar System and is used as a spotting/marking round. The steel projectile is loaded with bulk white phosphorus. The M722 is equipped with the M745 Point Detonating Fuze which functions in the Impact mode. When the fuze functions, an M85 burster ruptures the projectile and disperses the white phosphorus.

 

The M722 consists of the following major components:

Propelling
Charge Zone
Muzzle
Velocity
Minimum
Range
Maximum
Range
1 124 m/s 200 m 900 m
2 170 m/s 300 m 1800 m
3 210 m/s 450 m 2600 m
4 244 m/s 600 m 3200 m

Maximum Rate of Fire.........30 rounds/min (4 minutes)
Sustained Rate of Fire..........20 rounds/min
Cartridge Weight..........1.68 kg (3.7 lb)
M722 Type Classified Standard..........July 1987

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M766 Short Range Practice Cartridge

The M766 Short Range Practice Cartridge is designed for use with the M224 60mm Mortar System and provides realistic, cost effective training. The M766 is similar to the 60mm High Explosive cartridge in exterior configuration and operation. With the use of a refurbishment kit the M766 can be fired between ten and two dozen times. It reduces the cost of training and permits training in areas with limited range space. The M766 is equipped with the M779 Practice Fuze which is a facsimile M734 Multi-Option Fuze. The cartridge, which has a maximum range of 538 meters, provides a flash, bang and smoke signature upon impact.

 

The innovative refurbishment kit, consisting of a breech plug, ignition cartridge, fuze, obturator ring, three dud plugs and three increment plugs, saves 60mm mortar crews over $5M in training per year. The removable increment plugs, located on the shell body, simulate the propelling charges of the tactical cartridges and allow the crew to adjust the range. The dud plugs, also located on the shell body, are a safety feature indicating proper functioning of the fuze.

 

TACOM approved the Full Materiel Release of the M766 on 22 April 1998. The release provides training ammunition to the field to offset the lack of training ammunition caused by the recent suspension of all 60mm M49 series High Explosive Mortar Ammunition.

 

The M766 consists of the following major components:

  • Projectile Body Assembly
  • M986 Ignition Cartridge
  • M33 Fin Assembly
  • M779 Practice Fuze
Propelling
Charge Zone
Muzzle
Velocity
Minimum
Range
Maximum
Range
0 50 m/s 40 m 250 m
1 58 m/s 55 m 330 m
2 66 m/s 70 m 420 m
3 75 m/s 85 m 530 m

Maximum Rate of Fire.........30 rounds/min (2 minutes)
Sustained Rate of Fire..........15 rounds/min
Cartridge Weight..........1.3 kg (2.9 lb)
Type Classified Standard..........May 1993
 

 

Contractor: POCAL
Procurement Type: Production
Previous Contracts: 2
Contract Type: Firm Fixed Price
Production Qty: 15100
Scope: 15.1 K Cartridges and 156.1 K refurbishment kits

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XM767 60mm Infrared (IR) Illuminating Cartridge

The XM767 is a material change to the M721 Illuminating cartridge, and will be used with the lightweight company mortar system M224. The XM767 will provide IR illumination to the full range of the M720 HE cartridge and enhance night vision capabilities for soldiers with night vision devices for illuminating target areas to facilitate adjustment of fire. The projectile is loaded with an illuminant candle assembly and parachute assembly. The M721 and M767 are identical with the exception of the illuminant candle composition. The M721 contains a standard illuminant mix which provides approximately 300,000 candlepower of light whereas the M767 contains an infrared illuminant mix which provides approximately 75 watts/steradian of IR light with less than 350 candelpower of visible light. The M767 was designed for use with standard night vision devices. The M721/767 is equipped with the M776 Mechanical Time Fuze which functions at a user-specified time after launch. When the fuze functions it initiates the candle assembly and separates the front and rear projectile segments. As the parachute deploys, the candle burns, providing the required illumination over the target area.

 

The M721/767 consists of the following major components:

  • Projectile Body Assembly
  • M204/M235 Propelling Charge
  • M702 Ignition Cartridge
  • M27 Fin Assembly
  • M776 Mechanical Time Super Quick Fuze
  • Illuminant Candle Assembly
  • Parachute Assembly
Propelling
Charge Zone
Muzzle
Velocity
Minimum
Range
Maximum
Range
1 124 m/s 200 m 900 m
2 170 m/s 300 m 1800 m
3 210 m/s 450 m 2600 m
4 244 m/s 600 m 3200 m

Maximum Rate of Fire.........30 rounds/min (2 minutes)
Sustained Rate of Fire..........15 rounds/min
Cartridge Weight..........1.7 kg (3.75 lb)
Height of Burst.......... 425 m (M767)
Burn Time.......... 55 sec (M767)
M767 Type Classified (Low Rate Production)..........May 1997

 

Contractor: Pine Bluff Arsenal
Procurement Type: Production
Previous Contracts: 0
Contract Type: Cost Plus
Production Qty: 800
Special Provisions: Govt Owned/Govt Operated