RMR members train on the 81mm mortar

RMR members firing a COORD ILLUM mission during a live fire exercise held in Valcartier from 08 – 10 March 2024. Photo credit: Master-Corporal Marquis.

Westmount, Quebec, 23 March 2024 – Some lucky members of the RMR had the opportunity to train with the 2nd Field Artillery Regiment qualify to operate the 81mm mortar in a variety of shooting tasks. There are now 14 members of the RMR qualified on the 81mm mortar. The weapon is a versatile and potent indirect fire weapon used by the Canadian Army, including both regular and reserve units. This medium mortar system is designed to provide infantry units with high-angle fire support, bridging the gap between the maximum range of hand-thrown grenades and the minimum range of artillery.

Posing with the 81mm mortar, left to right: Master-Corporal Pratt, Bombardier Konevych, and Sergeant Stewart-Waywell. Photo credit: Master-Corporal Marquis.

Role: The primary role of the 81mm mortar within the Canadian Army is to offer quick, responsive, and relatively precise fire support to infantry units during operations. This includes suppression of enemy positions, neutralization of threats, and illumination or smoke screen generation for concealment and signalling. Mortars are valued for their ability to engage targets that are not in the direct line of sight, such as those in defilade or behind obstacles.

Function: The 81mm mortar operates by launching shells at high angles so that they descend on the target from above. This is particularly effective against enemies in entrenched positions or in urban warfare settings where direct fire is obstructed. The system functions through a smoothbore metal tube, into which shells are dropped. The shell’s primer is struck by a fixed firing pin at the base of the tube when the shell reaches the bottom, propelling the shell out of the tube and toward the target.

The mortar itself can be broken down into several components for transport, including the barrel, base plate, and bipod, making it relatively mobile and easy to reposition as needed. Its operation requires a crew, usually of three to four soldiers, who are responsible for aiming, loading, and firing the weapon, as well as calculating adjustments to ensure accuracy.

Left to right: Private Abassi, Corporal Archer, Master-Corporal Lavalliere, and Corposal Calixte. Photo credit: Master-Corporal Marquis.

Use: In practice, the 81mm mortar is used for a variety of mission types, including but not limited to:

  • Suppressive Fire: To prevent enemy forces from moving, observing, or firing upon friendly troops.
  • Neutralization: To eliminate or incapacitate enemy personnel and materiel.
  • Illumination: To light up areas of interest during low visibility conditions, facilitating operations at night or during inclement weather.
  • Smoke Generation: To conceal troop movements or to signal, using smoke shells that can produce a screen obscuring the movement of friendly forces or marking specific locations on the battlefield.

Training and Live Fire Missions: For Canadian reservists, training on the 81mm mortar is comprehensive, encompassing the mechanical aspects of the mortar, ballistic calculations for aiming, safety procedures, and live fire exercises. Live fire missions serve as critical training experiences, allowing reservists to apply theoretical knowledge in practical settings, understand the effects of their fire, and refine their coordination and speed in deploying the weapon system. Such exercises enhance the operational readiness of reserve units, ensuring they are prepared to provide effective fire support in various operational scenarios.

Share your thoughts