Nexter KNDS Unveils New MEPAC 120mm Mortar Systems for French and Belgian Armies

Nexter KNDS Unveils New MEPAC 120mm Mortar Systems for French and Belgian Armies

In recent information published on its Twitter account, French Company Nexter KNDS has provided the first picture of its MEPAC (In French Mortier embarqué pour l’appui au contact – Mortar Carrier for Contact Support), its latest 120mm self-propelled mortar system based on 6×6 armored vehicle. This cutting-edge platform is poised to bolster the artillery capabilities of both the French and Belgian armed forces. The MEPAC, mounted on the versatile Griffon 6×6 armored vehicle, features a 120mm semi-automatic mortar system designed for rapid deployment and high precision.

The unveiling of the MEPAC comes amid announcements of significant contracts and delivery schedules for the Belgian and French armies. Belgium has confirmed the acquisition of 24 MEPAC systems, intended to replace its existing 120mm mortar batteries. These state-of-the-art systems are expected to enter service in phases, with complete integration into the Belgian army by 2025. This move is part of Belgium’s broader strategy to modernize its military capabilities and enhance interoperability with NATO allies.

In December 2019, the French Army’s Defense Procurement Agency (DGA) issued a notification for the development and procurement of the VBMR Griffon MEPAC to a consortium comprising Nexter, Arquus, and Thales, leading French defense firms. The DGA has set plans to acquire a fleet of 54 Griffon MEPAC vehicles. By October 2021, the agency carried out live-fire trials of the Griffon MEPAC, with the initial batch of vehicles slated for delivery by the close of 2023.

Both countries’ contracts with Nexter KNDS underscore deepening cooperation in defense technology and a shared commitment to securing advanced military equipment to face evolving threats. The MEPAC system’s deployment is eagerly anticipated, promising to significantly boost the artillery capabilities of the French and Belgian armies.

Delivery of the MEPAC systems to Belgium is scheduled to commence in 2025, with full operational capability expected by 2030. Meanwhile, the French army’s delivery timeline remains under wraps, with further details anticipated in upcoming announcements.

Adding to the technical prowess of the MEPAC, the system boasts a mortar, the 2R2M, that is twice as precise as the Mo 120 RT model currently in service with the French Army. The 2R2M can be deployed in just a few seconds, and its semi-automatic loading and aiming automation allow for a firing rate of 10 rounds per minute. These capabilities, developed over 20 years by Thales LAS, have already convinced several countries, including Saudi Arabia, Italy, Malaysia, and the Sultanate of Oman, to adopt the system. Belgium, from the onset of the French-Belgian CaMo partnership, has shown a keen interest in the MEPAC as the designated replacement for the Mo 120 RT mortars of the Land Component.

Although the 35 Griffon vehicles initially planned were removed from the contract that took effect in July 2019, pending the materialization of the French program, a medium-term reversal is not ruled out once the initial development milestones are achieved. This strategic acquisition marks a pivotal step in the ongoing modernization efforts of NATO’s European members, enhancing the collective defense posture and ensuring readiness for future challenges.

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