Free Syrian Army’s Shoulder Fired Mortar/Grenade Launcher

    The rebels of the Free Syrian Army have introduced a revolutionary design of a weapon, a shoulder-launched mortar.

    They simply took the concept of the mortar projectile and made it work on a smaller scale/caliber and then they manufactured a launcher to shoot it from the shoulder, the concept is similar to the Russian DP-64 which gives it several advantages in “hit and run” tactics.

    Usually, a mortar crew is an easy target due to their stationary position in action while aiming, calculating, adjusting and firing; even when they fire from behind a cover since there is no maneuverability with a mortar (unlike small arms and man-pad rocket launchers).

    But this design gave them the absent advantage in which they can carry, aim and fire and then disappear like all guerrilla warriors. Of course, it requires a well trained individual to operate it for fast calculations and adjustments in the battle ground.

    Currently, the operators employ it as an anti-personnel grenade launcher but the reason behind calling it –revolutionary design- is that it can be used to hit the armored vehicles’ weakest spot by a top-attack similar to a Javelin ATGM.  Considering the huge difference between the two payloads and destructive abilities (and the guidance system of course), hitting a Tank’s optical devices or hitting the cannon of a BMP armored fighting vehicle AFV would have the effect of disabling the vehicle and removing it from the fight, especially if the mortar shell is modified with a shaped explosive charge.

    Another method of usage can be clearing rooms and buildings like the Russian RPO-A Shmel (again we are not talking about the destructive capability, or the state of art design or the mechanism of the Russian made weapon compared to this) but it has the same effect as throwing a High-Explosive grenade through a window from 300-400 meters range.

    The launcher is made out of a tube and a spring loaded firing pin powered by side-trigger which makes it fire-at-will unlike the ordinary mortar that fires when the shell is dropped to hit the firing pin by gravity.

    One of the disadvantages is the recoil generated by the energy of the thrusting shell, that tells us why they made it in a small caliber. Who knows if they will develop recoil damping shoulder pads to increase the capabilities of the weapon the future to have more capabilities than only a grenade launcher.

    Marawan Maklad

    Marawan Maklad is an Egyptian firearms and ammunition designer working for Turkish company specializing in the hunting and defense industries, and a dedicated researcher in asymmetric conflicts arms and tactics.