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 The Picatinny Voice

Date: AUG 09, 2004

Picatinny successfully designs mortar system for HMMWV

PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. -- An innovative team of armaments engineers here has successfully designed and tested a mortar that fires from a heavy military HMMWV , a technical breakthrough never before achieved.  

Maj. Gen. John C. Doesburg

Nicknamed Scorpion, the mortar could provide U. S. military personnel serving in hostile areas added protection, according to Anthony Franchino who headed the five person team.

Franchino led the effort to quickly find a way to equip the light, highly mobile, diesel-powered, four-wheel-drive vehicles with heavier firepower.

The HMMWV, which is designed for use on all types of roads, operates in all weather conditions and is extremely effective in the most difficult terrains.

It is used extensively by U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan for a number of purposes including convoy protection, emergency response and mobile sentry.

Franchino said that the HMMWV’s light weight and compact size have limited it to medium caliber guns, soft-launch missles and small arms weapons until now.

“The vehicle’s mass acts as a significant constraint,” he said. “We believed that mounting anything larger than a medium-caliber direct-fire gun would exceed the structural limits of the HMMVW.”

The effort began when Col. Peter S. Janker, commander of Picatinny’s Armament Engineering Technology Center and Franchino’s boss, challenged the team to find a way to equip the HMMVW with a heftier weapon system than the one’s currently used.

“Col. Janker asked us to look for a fast, creative solution, not to develop a new armament capability,” Franchino said. “That’s exactly what we did.”

Utilizing a foreign-made 82mm auto-fire weapon that Franchino discovered while working on another program, the team began the project.

“We began tinkering with the mortar and a HMMVW that we obtained, often working on our own time during lunch, after work and sometimes on weekends,” he said.

During it’s initial test, the Scorpion successfully fired a single shot followed by several four-round automatic bursts at a remote location on the installation. Additional test firings were equally successful.

The Scorpion is both a direct and indirect fire weapon. It has a maximum range of 1000 meters for direct fire and more than 4,000 meters for indirect fire.

“It could allow military personnel riding in HMMVWs to destroy improvised explosive devices from greater distances than they now can, “ Franchino said.