81mm L16 Mortar - Armed Forces - a5a13.1 - British Army - The Infantry



81mm Mortar fiiring

The 81mm Mortar is on issue to all infantry battalions, with each battalion having a mortar platoon with three or four sections; and each section deploying two mortars.

These mortars are the battalion's organic Manoeuvre Support Firepower and can be used to put a heavy weight of fire down on an objective in an extremely short period.

Mortar fire is particularly lethal to infantry in the open and in addition is very useful for neutralising dug-in strong points or forcing armour to close down.

The fire of each mortar section is controlled by the MFC (Mortar Fire Controller) who is usually an NCO and generally positioned well forward with the troops being supported. Most MFCs will find themselves either very close to or co-located with a Task Group Commander. The MFC informs the base plate (mortar position) by radio of the location of the target and then corrects the fall of the bombs, directing them onto the target.

Mortar fire can be used to suppress enemy positions until assaulting troops arrive within 200-300 m of the position. The mortar fire then lifts onto enemy counter attack and supporting positions while the assault goes in. The 81mm Mortar can also assist with smoke and illuminating rounds.

The mortar is carried in an AFV432 or a Truck Utility Light or Medium and if necessary can be carried in two, man-portable loads of 11.35 kg and one 12.28 kg respectively. In the past, infantry companies working in close country have carried one 81mm round per man when operating in areas such as Borneo where wheeled or tracked transport was not available.

For Air Mobile and Air Assault operations mortar rounds are issued in twin packs of two rounds per man on initial deployment. These are used as initial ammunition resources until palleted ammunition loads can be flown in.

The L16A2 81 mm Mortar has undergone a mid life upgrade (MLU) to embrace recent technological developments. The inclusion of the new SPGR (Specialised Personal GPS Receiver) and the LH40C (Laser) combine to make the new TLE (Target Locating Equipment).

This generates a significant enhancement in first round accuracy and the ease, and speed with which accurate fire missions can be executed. Additionally, the equipment reduces the number of adjustment rounds which will be used and lead to greater dispersal of mortar barrels, thus increasing protection for the mortar crew soldiers.

Plans continue to develop further synergies with The Royal Artillery to improve the existing levels of co-ordination between Artillery and Mortars in fighting the indirect fire battle.

Improved performance ammunition with greater lethality against buildings, armour and equipment is expected to be in service within the next two years.

81mm L16 Mortar Specifications

400 in service including 100 SP

Max Range

HE 5,650m


45 degrees to 80 degrees

Muzzle Velocity


Length of barrel


Weight of barrel


Weight of base plate


In action Weight


Bomb Weight HE L3682


Rate of Fire