The “Podhalańska” [Highland] unit received 8 mortars and 4 AWA artillery command vehicles in total. This means that delivery of the fourth Rak company-level fire module (KMO - Kompanijny Moduł Ogniowy) is in progress. Thus, it may be said that the manufacturing phase of the contract has reached its mid-point. The Polish Army’s unit will have, in total, 32 modern and effective artillery platforms and 16 command vehicles at its disposal. The command vehicles listed above are making it easier to manage this potential at the levels of battery and command module.
Today the modern KMO “Rak” artillery equipment has been shipped to the Polish soldiers. Thereby we have completed the fourth stage of implementing the agreement. I am happy, because we are working on one of the most significant agreements in the Polish defence industry, in line with the expectations of the Polish Ministry of Defence and of the soldiers. For us, this is a positive confirmation of our competencies, as a trustworthy partner and manufacturer of modern Polish armament.
The contract concluded at HSW on 28th April 2016 assumed the delivery schedule as follows, with regards to the individual modules: two in 2017, three in 2018 and three in 2019. The contract pertains to an armament system that has been designed in Poland from a scratch and that is being manufactured by the Polish defence industry. The solution makes use of domestically developed integrated command, communications and fire control systems (C4), with minimum involvement of imported components (engines, GPS systems and so on).
The first series manufactured Rak mortar was assembled at HSW on 17th November 2016, while the first of the KMO elements (compliant with the PLN 968.3 million [gross] worth contract) has been delivered, on time, in June 2017. The “Digital” 17th “Wielkopolska” Mechanized Brigade became the first user of the system. 12th Mechanized Brigade and 15th Mechanized Brigade were the next units to receive the equipment. The 5th Rak module is going to be delivered by HSW in the late 2018, as scheduled. Before the delivery the company is obliged (by the contract) to organize theoretical and practical training for the future users. The training events are going to be taking place at HSW and at the ranges nearby. Delivery of three company-level fire modules based on wheeled platforms would constitute the final phase of contract implementation in 2019. So far there are no reasons to for forming a thesis whether the plans to form an additional division would influence the procurement plans made by the MoD so far, when it comes to the Rak system.
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The combat use of the Rak system and the related experience are a foundation of the modifications and development carried out at HSW, in order to expand the Rak’s combat capacity. Some of the design changes are expected to be introduced in the Rak mortars manufactured for the next company fire module (fifth one). Meanwhile, some of the modifications are also going to be made to the mortars already delivered, during the scheduled maintenance and overhauls.
As the basic contractual work is being completed, the remaining elements of the system need to catch up. The 2016 agreement concerned two systemic components: M120K mortars and AWD command vehicles (support means). When the agreement was being signed, ammunition carriers and recovery vehicles were being involved in a qualification test programme, while in case of the AWR [Artillery Reconnaissance Vehicle], as the vehicle was changed, the platform had to go back to the first stage.
Following the analytical effort at the MoD it was decided that AWR will be based on the KTO Rosomak platform offering a greater potential. Decision as such would also diminish the number of different equipment in the carrier group within the KMO element, bringing it down to three platforms: Rosomak APC is being used for the Rak mortars and AWD vehicles; it would also be used as a base for AWR; 4-axle Jelcz 882 truck is going to act as the AWA vehicle, while the three-axle Jelcz 662 platform is going to be used as AWRU.
The AWRUiE [Artillery Armament and Electronics Repair Vehicle] based on the Jelcz 662.35 platform has passed the qualification tests programme for the Rak modules system as the first of the support elements. The agreement concerning the delivery of these vehicles (one per element) was concluded by and between HSW S.A. and the MoD on 28th December 2017 and the agreement is being performed now. The AWA qualification tests programme concerning a platform based on the Jelcz 882.53 vehicle (4-axles) has been completed. Soon, HSW S.A. and the MoD are expected to reach an agreement concerning the economics of AWAs delivery. Delivery schedule is also expected to be arranged, with regards to all of the support units already using the Rak module (three AWAs are to be delivered for each of the modules).
The 21st Podhale Rifle Highland Brigade - which is a new user of the Rak module, consists of 10 elements including around 4 thousand well trained troops. The unit that has been founded 25 years ago has accumulated and gathered a lot of experience throughout the course of humanitarian and peacekeeping deployments (Syria, Lebanon, Bosnia). In 1999 it was indicated as the element that was tasked with creating a Polish unit within the NATO AFOR force. It was tasked with provision of humanitarian aid in Albania. Meanwhile, in August 2000, Polish-Ukrainian Peacekeeping Battalion, also formed by a part of the Brigade, began rotational deployments in August 2000, as a part of the KFOR contingent in Kosovo. The Podhalanian troops were involved in the “Iraqi Freedom” operation (as a part of peacekeeping and training deployment in Iraq) and they also served as a part of the Polish ISAF element in Afghanistan. The Brigade has been distinguished as one of the leading elements of the Polish Military. It received a “Leading Unit of the Polish Military” distinction issued by the Head of the MoD 4 times.
Maintaining the heritage related to the former Polish Army’s organizational structure, 21st Highland Brigade is tasked with undertaking operational activities primarily in the mountainous areas. Rak mortar is thus an optimal piece of kit for an element as such. This equipment has been designed with maneuvering units operating in difficult terrain conditions (highly urbanized or mountainous areas), in case of which conventional artillery assets may not be 100% effective. M120K Rak is capable of striking targets at distances of up to 10-12 kilometres - this is what it has been designed to do. The 120 mm mortar round that is being developed by ZM DEZAMET is to allow the vehicle to act against targets at distances of 10 kilometres. Moreover, as one of a few mortar systems, it is capable of direct fire. Rak can attack targets within full azimuth range of 360 degrees and with elevations ranging from -3 to 80 degrees. The weapon also offers a high rate of fire of 6 to 8 shots per minute. 30 seconds is the time needed by the vehicle to assume firing position, and even less time - 15 seconds following the last shot - is needed to leave the spot. The vehicle is also capable of laying down fire in MRSI mode (Multiple Rounds Simultaneous Impact). Furthermore, the fire control and command system is highly automated, which makes it possible for a crew of 2 (excluding the driver) to operate the system. Not only will introduction of Rak mortars into the structure of the 21st Brigade reinforce the Polish and NATO Eastern Flank military potential, but it will also constitute an important step in introduction of the Rosomak platform in the unit.
Battalions and squadrons of the Brigade are stationed in Rzeszów (riflemen, command, logistics), Przemyśl (riflemen), Jarosław (air defence and artillery), Nisko (sappers), Żurawica (tank units) and Kłodzko (highland infantry).