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Spain's Latest Mortar Tender

During the month of October, 2018, the Spanish Government prepared and issued a tender request for a variety of supplies in regards to mortar munitions.

Slated to be closed December 15, 2018, the tender will be implemented in a framework style agreement with the selected bidder. The tender itself is estimated to exceed €21 million in order to fulfill the needs of the tender.

The Ministry of Defense is issuing this tender based on the expenditure records and estimated requirements as provided by the Army Staff (EME). Specifically the tender deals with a request for 60mm, 81mm, and 120mm mortars and their related sub-caliber training rounds.

Mortars in and of themselves are extremely versatile battle field tools allowing for close in support of ground troops. They are capable of providing anti-personnel and anti-material support while also also impacting certain environmental conditions through use of illumination and smoke rounds.

Their versatility, especially as a carrying medium, has brought some controversy to them and their respective manufacturers. The controversy predominately applies to 120mm mortars, which include the Mat-120 (a cluster munition).

Formerly manufactured by Instalaza S.A. and developed in the 1980s by Esperanza y Cia the Mat-120 consisted of a mortar shell carrying twenty-one 37mm anti-armor/fragmentation submunitions. Specifically designed to self-destruct and self-sterilize after firing, the submunitions are completely inert during storage and after failed detonation. However, in 2008, a ban on cluster ammunition was issued and Spain destroyed most of its stock pile of Mat-120s, their earlier variations, and their 81mm equivalents leaving 330 Mat-120s as of 2011. The Spanish government began refusing all license requests to sell cluster munitions outside of the country from 2008 onward. Additionally, after incidents in Libya in 2011, Instalaza has ceased offering Mat-120s and shifted their product focus to other parts of the market.

Due to the cluster munitions ban, and Spain's own destruction of available stores, the tender will most be for training rounds and regular ordinance such as High Explosive, Fragmentation, Illumination, and Smoke. Since the cluster ammunition ban ostensibly ended Intalaza and its related company's position in the mortar market, the tender is more than likely going to be filled by either providers outside of Spain or companies such as New Technologies Global Systems (NTGS) and Maxam Expal.

NTGS is known for their truck deployed 81mm and 120mm mortars. NTGS won the contract to export these systems from Spain in 2017. Meanwhile Maxam Expal has been one of the major suppliers of 60mm, 81mm, and 120mm mortars in a configurable style. Maxam Expal is also known for their TECHFIRE fire control systems and quick deployed mortar systems.

These factors make them more likely to be selected as the suppliers for the current tender request. This order for mortars follows the trend of maintenance and upgrading that nations like the United Kingdom and other European countries are exhibiting, with most of their tenders being geared toward infrastructure and vehicles rather than small arms and standard infantry equipment.


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