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Frag Out! Magazine #26

Frag Out! Magazine

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Page 13 of 159

within the framework of "fire modules". It remains impossible to indi- cate an equally advanced 120 mm self-propelled mortar system now. The facts show that, even though Rak remains comparable to other designs, specification-wise, when the whole system is considered the Rak mortar has no real (not theoretical) competition of any kind. It is a truly unique solution. Platform Based Mortars? The idea is to create a light mortar with automated elevation/az- imuth change system and semi-automatic muzzle-loading system. The loader places the round on the supporting element that holds the round and lifts it up to the barrel, but the rest of the process is done automatically. Furthermore, systems as such are also usually coupled with a simple ballistic computer. The whole system is mounted on a 1×1 m platform that can be integrated on virtually any carrier. French 2R2M, Turkish Alkar, Swiss Ruag Cobra, Israeli Elbit Spear or South Korean Hyundai WIA can be listed as examples here. Theoretically, systems as such fuse the advantages of mobility and simple auto- mated muzzle-loading systems. The idea seems to be good on paper. But it also fuses the disadvantages exhibited by towed and automatic mortars. The combat compartments are not sealed, thus not only is the crew exposed to NBC threats, but also to fragments, shrapnel and, above all, the weather. The above also applies to the fragile loading systems with multiple motors. The Czech experience with Pandurs and Polish experience gathered with regards to weather tested RCWS- 30 and UTD-30 turrets would justify an expectation of problems with reliability of such open-top designs in the Central European operation- al context. Secondly, the rate of fire is usually lower than the declared 10 RPM (6-8 RPM would be far more realistic). The range is usually shorter than in case of the conventional designs. Stability of the plat- form may also turn out to be problematic in case of the vehicles that remain lighter than APCs. Furthermore, the cost is much higher than towed mortars, even when those are fitted with modern fire control systems. This is influenced by a complicated design of the motors and of the autoloader. Moreover, mortars as such also cannot lay down di- rect fire. On the other hand, conventional self-propelled mortars such as M1064 or M1129 exist, where a towed mortar is placed on a plat- form with hatches on the roof of the main compartment of the vehicle. Designs as such feature modern ballistic computers today as well. The whole system is, undoubtedly, much cheaper than the solutions placed in dedicated turrets or automated muzzle-loaded mortars. Thus, these systems are often considered to be a perfect compromise between affordability, mobility and 120 mm mortar firepower. However, care- fully studying the manuals of FM-3.22-90 and ST 3-22.7 mortars one cannot come to a conclusion that those are better than self-propelled turret mortars. Reasons for that are multiple. M1129 takes the same time as towed M-120 mortars to start firing the rounds with the fire control system involved. The time needed to leave the firing position is a major advantage of M1129. It is possible to immediately leave it with the hatches open, but with a speed limit of 15 kph, as open hatches

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