Meet the Polish 120 mm M120K RAK self-propelled mortar

In 2008, the Polish enterprise Huta Staleva Wola [HSW], a traditional supplier of military equipment to the Polish army, presented a self-propelled 120-mm mortar M120K Rak with weapons mounted in a closed rotating turret. The M120 smoothbore mortar with a barrel length of 25 calibers was actually supposed to play the role of a universal weapon, firing on flat, mounted [howitzer] and mortar trajectories.

Meet the Polish 120 mm M120K RAK self-propelled mortar
Photo credit: Jarosław Wolski

The combat module of the mortar is made in the form of a rotating steel armored tower. Light armor provides protection against bullets from small arms of normal caliber at a distance of 30 m and further, and from fragments of 155-mm projectiles when breaking at a distance of 100 m. Vertical [elevation] pointing angles are from -3e to + 80 °, and horizontal [azimuth] – 360 °. Guide drives – electromechanical.

Transportable ammunition is 46 ready-made mortar shells, 20 of which are placed in the turret in a rotating magazine and 26 in the hull. Ammunition is manually loaded through the rear turret hatch. The declared rate of fire of 10-12 shots/min should be provided by an automated loading mechanism.

The Topaz control system includes a digital control system manufactured by WB Electronics. The system for automatic topographical reference and orientation includes a GPS navigator, a direction indicator, and an inertial system Talin 5000. Automation allows you to control a self-propelled mortar with only two crew members – the driver and the commander [he/she is also a gunner], who aims with a joystick. The complex is included in the general network of the tactical level C4ISR and is supposed to allow you to find a target fire in less than 30 seconds after stopping in position.

The M120K “Rak” combat module is mounted on a wheeled or tracked armored chassis. In 2013, HSW proposed its installation on the chassis of the German Marder infantry fighting vehicle: in connection with plans to re-equip the Bundeswehr with the new Puma infantry fighting vehicle, an active search is underway for ways to destroy the remaining Marders in combat-ready condition.

Meet the Polish 120 mm M120K RAK self-propelled mortar
Photo credit: DefenceHub.live

In the Polish army, the M120K Rak mortars, despite the shorter firing range, are supposed to replace the old Soviet-made 122-mm howitzers of the 2S1 Gvozdika series, i.e. serve as regimental artillery pieces. Accordingly, to save time, a self-propelled mortar on the 2C1 Gvozdika chassis was proposed with a replacement of the power plant. But in the end, they chose the wheeled chassis of the Wolverine armored personnel carrier [8×8], which is a licensed copy of the popular Finnish AMV Patria.

Self-propelled mortar batteries should be equipped with AWD reconnaissance and fire control points at the rate of one self-propelled mortar for two combat vehicles. In 2015, the Polish Ministry of Defense ordered a consortium of Huta Staleva Wola and Rosomak S.A. 80 self-propelled mortars and about 40 PRUOs on Wolverine chassis. The Army received the first eight self-propelled mortars and four PRUOs in 2016.

The company includes four fire sections, each of which consists of two self-propelled mortars and one anti-aircraft gun. In addition, the mortar company should have two AWR artillery reconnaissance vehicles on the AWA ammunition transport vehicle on the P882 [8×8] vehicle chassis, and an AWRU repair artillery vehicle on the P662D.35 [6×6] chassis and one ARV CKPEiRT.

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