The Polish Land Forces recently welcomed a fresh shipment of Rak 120mm self-propelled mortars on September 22. These cutting-edge military assets, a vital addition to Poland’s defense capabilities, were manufactured through the collaborative efforts of subsidiaries within the state-owned defense conglomerate Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa (PGZ). This acquisition aligns with a comprehensive agreement inked in May 2020, wherein Poland committed to procuring a total of 40 Rak 120mm self-propelled mortars and 20 artillery command vehicles. Valued at PLN 703 million, approximately EUR 150 million, this contract exemplifies Poland’s unwavering commitment to enhancing its national security. While the contract is set to conclude by 2024, it’s worth noting that the 2020 agreement marks the third instance of Poland’s investment in the 120mm Rak self-propelled howitzers. The initial contract, covering 64 mortars, was signed in 2016, followed by a second agreement for 16 mortars in 2019.
The M120 Rak is a versatile self-propelled wheeled gun-mortar featuring an automatically loaded 120mm mortar mounted on either a tracked (SMG 120 / M120G) or wheeled (SMK 120 / M120K) chassis, designed and produced by Huta Stalowa Wola (HSW). These mortars are proudly manufactured in Poland and are a cornerstone of the Polish Land Forces’ artillery firepower. Serial production commenced in 2017, and it has been in active service since then. The production consortium responsible for these state-of-the-art vehicles is a formidable duo, consisting of two distinguished Polish defense companies: Huta Stalowa Wola (HSW) and Rosomak, both proud subsidiaries of Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa (PGZ). The Rak Mortar is adaptable, with the option of mounting it on various chassis. The tracked chassis variant is based on the lightweight HSW tracked chassis, developed from the Opal APC, while the wheeled version draws from the reliable Rosomak APC.
The Rak mortar system boasts a fire set of eight cannons, which can launch mortar grenades accurately at targets spanning distances from 8 to 12 kilometers. In addition to conventional munitions, it can deploy shells equipped with a High Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT) charge, making it effective against armored vehicles. Furthermore, it is equipped for smoke and lighting operations. Its rapid deployment capability, transitioning from march to combat position within a maximum of 30 seconds, ensures swift and agile response times. The Rak mortar can vacate the combat position in just 15 seconds following the discharge of the last grenade. Complementing the Rak mortar system are accompanying vehicles, including artillery command vehicles (AWD), reconnaissance vehicles, technical and logistical support (ammunition) vehicles, and armament repair vehicles (AWRU).
Equipped with a digital fire control system complete with a thermal camera and a laser rangefinder, this mortar system can operate effectively during both day and night. It can harness data from the FlyEye unmanned aerial vehicle, enhancing its operational awareness. A remarkable feature of the Rak mortar is its remote firing capability, allowing it to function as an unmanned weapon with electronic commands and data transmission to the vehicle’s computer. In its initial phases, before the implementation of modern ammunition with a 10,000-meter range, Polish Rak mortars utilized upgraded OF843B grenades originally designed for towed mortars. These grenades, with a weight of 16.02 kilograms and a range of 6,900 meters, were adapted for training purposes. Poland’s continued investment in the Rak 120mm self-propelled mortars underscores the nation’s unwavering commitment to modernizing its armed forces and safeguarding its sovereignty.