Every modern fighting land force has adopted some form of 120mm heavy field mortar. For the French Army and various global customers, this has become the MO-120 RT-61 (French Army designation of "Mortier de 120mm Raye Tracte Modele F1"). As a heavy field mortar system, the weapon is called to direct projectiles against stationary, dug in enemy targets through Non-Line-of-Sight (NLoS) fire. Design work and manufacture has been handled by Thomson-Brandt in France with local manufacture seen under various labels elsewhere - Daimler-Benz Aerospace of Germany, Hotchkiss-Brandt of the Netherlands, MKEK of Turkey, etc. The MO-120 RT-61 has seen considerable combat service by way of experience in the 1991 Gulf War, the 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan, and Operational Serval (2013-2014) - the French intervention in Mali.
Militaries generally rely on three classes of mortar projectors covering 60mm, 81mm, and 120mm calibers. The 120mm system offers the most potent punch of the three at longer engagement ranges but at the expense of requiring a larger support assembly and additional operating crew. As such, the MO-120 showcases a complete weight of 1,283 lb, its barrel measures 9 feet, 2 inches long, and a typical operating crew numbers up to six personnel. The size of the weapon dictates transport by "mover vehicle" either towed or housed under the cover of an armored hull depending on vehicle type. The rifled launch tube fires a 41 lb, 120mm caliber projectile out to effective ranges of 8,900 yards (rocket assisted projectiles reach out to 14,000 yards). The support assembly provides an elevation span of -30 to +85 degree firing angles with traverse (from centerline) of +/- 14 degrees. Rate-of-fire is in the 6 to 10 rounds per minute range.
The MO-120 RT-61 has been developed to fire standard NATO mortar projectiles. Two modes of fire were built into its design: the initial function is the standard mortar "drop-and-fire" approach with the alternative function being a delayed, lanyard-actuated feature - the latter offering more direct control by the operator. French mountain troops are issued the MO-120 LT which is nothing more than a smoothbore variant of the rifled barrel MO-120 RT-60.
Upon its adoption by French forces, the MO-120 RT-61 replaced the outgoing MO-120 AM-50 series. Over 100 examples have seen procurement by the French with other operators joining in its use: Belgium, Brazil, Djibouti, Colombia, Cyprus, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Netherlands, Tunisia, and Turkey. The Japanese Army recognizes the mortar as the "Type 96 SPM" while the Turkish Army has designated their French mortar as HY-12 "Tosam". The United States Marine Corps (USMC) utilize the MO-120 as the M327 EFSS "Expeditionary Fire Support System".