The NLOS-M, which is technologically about three years behind the NLOS-C, is equally high-tech. It fires the same 120 mm projectiles as other large-caliber mortar launchers, but it does so with a fully automated, breech-loading system. Traditionally, guys had to stand up in an open vehicle, hold a 36-lb munition up until the “Fire” order was given, drop the munition and then get the hell out of the way. Obviously lots of opportunity for injury. In the case of the NLOS-M, mounted on the same chassis as the NLOS-C, soldiers sit protected in the vehicle and auto-launch the mortars using an advanced software system and touch-screen computers. The mortar is also an MRSI (multi-round, simultaneous-impact) system, with the capability to launch 16 rounds in the first minute and 8 rounds per minute thereafter. The first prototype of the NLOS-M will roll out in 2011 and be fielded in 2014.
MRSI is seriously cool. The computer calculates a bunch of different trajectories and then fires a sequence of shells. Each one follows a different ballistic track to ensure all the rounds land at the exact same time. Think of a shotgun, but with mortar shells instead of pellets.