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Expeditionary Fire Support System

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Expeditionary Fire Support System

The Expeditionary Fire Support System is a mortar-based system that is designed to provide mobile fire support for expeditionary forces.

Official USMC Photo
Updated February 21, 2005
by Sgt. Donald Bohanner

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, VA -- Unmanned aerial vehicles the size of model airplanes, rugged minicomputers that automate calls for air support and remotely controlled rifled mortar capabilities will change the way the Marine Corps fights on future battlefields. One example of this new technology is the Expeditionary Fire Support System.

EFSS is a mortar-based system designed to provide mobile fire support for expeditionary forces. The system utilizes a 120 mm rifled towed mortar that can fire smoothbore or rifled (contains internal spiral grooves inside the barrel that rotates the round as it exits the barrel) ammunition. It includes an ammo trailer and two internally transportable vehicles.

Currently, the 81 mm mortar is the largest direct fire support capability the Marine Corps has that can be transported inside helicopters.

“What makes this equipment so much better than our current equipment is that the EFSS is a 120 mm rifled towed mortar that can be internally transported with its prime mover inside of the MV-22 Osprey,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Wagner, EFSS team leader and acquisition management officer at Marine Corps Systems Command.

The basic weight of the mortar is 1,400 pounds and will be capable of deployment in towed, heliborne and mounted versions.

According to Wagner, the 120 mm rifled towed mortar has a range of 8.2 kilometers and the rocker assistance round travels more than 13 kilometers.

The system can be deployed from amphibious ships and internally in CH-53 helicopters and MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft.

The gun’s history began in 2001 when the Marine Corps Combat Development Command identified a need for an expeditionary fire support system that will provide all-weather, ground-based, close supporting, accurate, immediately responsive, and lethal indirect fire support for the Marine Air-Ground Task Force. MCCDC wanted a lighter, more mobile indirect fire capability with increased agility and lethality. The system would also need to fill the vertical assault elements of a ship-to-objective maneuver force.

“The mission need statement came out in 2001, but the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab was experimenting for several years with the mortar,” said Wagner.

During 2004 MCSC held a competition to determine which contractor’s proposal would best support the EFSS requirement and was the best value to the Marine Corps.

“General Dynamics won the competition with their proposal of the mortar,” said Wagner. “Up to that point, EFSS could have been one of several systems.”

The EFSS will be the third and final system of a land-based fire-support triad that includes the Light Weight 155 mm howitzer and High Mobility Artillery Rocket System. It will accompany MAGTFs in any type of expeditionary operation.

“The lightweight 155 is the replacement for the M198 towed howitzer and can be externally lifted by the MV-22 up to 50 miles,” said Wagner. “HIMARS is a multiple rocket launch system that is capable of accurately striking targets over 60 kilometers away.”

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