The US Army 1st Special Forces Group has received the first M224A1 60mm lightweight company mortar system, Program Executive Office Ammunition deputy product manager Peter Burke has said.

“Our programme goal was to reduce the weight of mortar systems as much as we could to take some of the weight off of his back,” he added.

“This new 60mm delivers improved portability while maintaining the existing rate of fire, range and tube life of the former system. The soldier is still carrying the same capability, it just weighs less.”

The M224A1 comprises an M225A1 cannon (tube), M170A1 bipod assembly, M7A1 baseplate, M8 auxiliary baseplate and the M67 sight unit.

The new lightweight 60mm mortar system, which is 20% lighter than the previous versions, will replace all former legacy M224 systems.

Mortar systems provide indirect firing capability to the soldiers to defeat enemy troops, materiel, bunkers and other infantry-type targets.

PEO Ammunition will also begin fielding a lightweight 81mm mortar system in early 2012.