Self-propelled mortar "Bars-8MMK" in the stowed position
Since 2016, Ukrainian industry has shown at the exhibitions the promising self-propelled mortar Bars-8MMK. In the future, this project was brought to the assembly of the first batch of small sizes and even to acceptance tests. However, this all stopped - the army refused to accept low-quality products. Because of this, processing of the project began, but its prospects remain unclear.
The first prototype of the future mortar based on the Bars-8 armored car was presented in the fall of 2016. The project was developed with the most active participation of foreign experts. The state concern Ukroboronprom signed an agreement with the Spanish company Everis Aeroespacial y Defensa SLU (EAD) on the purchase of finished components for promising Ukrainian technology.
The project under the designation "Bars-8MMK" ("Mobile mortar complex") proposed the use of the Ukrainian assembly as the base of the Bars-8 armored car. It should have been equipped with Spanish-made Alakran UKR-MMS mortar system components. Mortar barrels were to be delivered by one of the Ukrainian enterprises.
In the expanded position - loading is carried out
The first samples of new technology appeared and went on trial in 2018-19. In August 2019, Spanish and Ukrainian industry completed the first batch of six new-type self-propelled mortars. Soon they were handed over for acceptance tests before being put into service. As the Ukrobornprom Group of Companies reported, the machines were tested. Now they could begin service in parts of the ground forces.
The basis of the complex "Bars-8MMK" is a two-axle all-wheel drive armored car "Bars-8" on a commercial chassis Dodge Ram, equipped with bulletproof and anti-shatter protection. All units of the mortar complex are mounted inside the armored housing; some are deployed when deployed.
In the front of the armored cab, the driver’s workstation was saved and the post of commander with the necessary electronics was organized. Behind them at the sides, behind large doors, are two racks from the Alakran complex, each accommodates 30 minutes of 120 mm caliber. Between the racks there is space for the shooter controlling the machine gun on the roof.
The mortar system retracts inside the housing
At the rear of the hull is a retractable device with guidance mechanisms and a mortar, developed by the Spanish side. In the transport position, this system is located inside the armored car. Before firing, the hydraulic drives drive it out and set it on the ground. There are remotely controlled aiming drives that provide firing in a 60 ° wide sector to the right and left of the longitudinal axis with elevations from 45 to 85 degrees.
Data processing for firing and fire control is carried out from the commander and gunner's consoles. The first is located in the cockpit, the second - on board the armored car. The Spanish-made equipment independently processes the incoming data and gives out pickup angles, and then controls the operation of the drives. There is satellite navigation and other components necessary for a modern mortar.
As armament, the Bars-8MMK uses a Ukrainian copy of the Soviet 120-mm 2B11 muzzle-loading mortar. The shot is carried out by self-stabbing or using the trigger. For the movement of mines from racks to the muzzle end, mortars are responsible. The declared combat characteristics as a whole remained at the level of the base model.
Installation in combat position
It is alleged that the Bars-8MMK is capable of quickly reaching a firing position, realizing binding, calculating data for firing, deploying and pointing the gun and opening fire. After firing, the position is withdrawn in the shortest possible time. In case of a collision with the enemy there is a turret with a machine gun and smoke grenade launchers. Calculation - 3 people.
In the recent past, the developers of the complex reported on the successful completion of tests and delivery of equipment to the customer. However, as it now became known, the army did not take mortars because of the presence of significant shortcomings. Six ready-made machines are sent for storage and stand idle waiting for a solution to the identified problems.
Such a development of events on June 18, 2020 was reported by the Ukrainian edition of Defense Express. According to him, the Bars-8MMK was not accepted due to problems with the main armament. The first drawback is the dubious quality of the trunks. Also, the manufacturer still has not provided the army with a table for firing from such weapons.
External fire control
Thus, in its present form and in its current configuration, the self-propelled mortar complex cannot conduct targeted fire, which makes it almost useless. In addition, the reliability and resource of the mortar itself raise questions - and make it dangerous not only for the enemy, but also for his own calculation. Moreover, this is not the first история with low-quality mortars of Ukrainian production. It is distinguished only by the absence of accidents, injuries and victims, as in the past.
Attempt to solve
It is reported that measures are already being taken to correct the identified deficiencies. The main one is the replacement of low-quality trunks with new products. The new supplier of mortars was the company "Ukrainian armored vehicles". She delivered a number of trunks of a new production, repeating the design of the original product. Now they are being tested.
The main difficulties in the testing are related to determining the resource of the trunks - such checks take the most time. During the test, the mortar must withstand 5 thousand shots at a set pace and breaks. To date, testers have completed approx. 3 thousand shots - more than half of the entire program.
Replacing the artillery part of the complex will require the use of new firing tables and appropriately refine the fire control system - such work should not take much time. Ukrainian sources report that the finalization of Bars-8MMK is being carried out at the highest possible pace, but the timing of its completion remains unknown.
Mortar without mortar
Thus, there was a more than interesting situation around Bars-8MMK products. The prospective project of the mortar complex has been successfully brought to the stage of production, testing and transfer to the troops, but its operation is not possible. Moreover, the source of problems was the key component - the mortar barrel, which determines the combat capabilities of the machine of the entire complex.
As for the other elements of the combat vehicle, the situation with them is much better. Armored cars "Bars-8" has not yet caused serious complaints. The Spanish complex EAD Alakran exists in several versions, is mass-produced, delivered to different countries and receives good reviews. However, the fate of the complex depends not only on high-quality means of guidance.
Measures have already been taken, but their effectiveness is still in question. To replace the defective copy of the 2B11, the new mortar has to go through a full test cycle and prove its reliability. Otherwise, history will go to a new circle with the next replacement of weapons and subsequent checks. It should be borne in mind that without a quality mortar the whole project has no meaning.
The project still has certain chances of success, and in this case, very interesting and promising self-propelled mortars will get to the combat units. However, in this case, problems are possible. So far, there are only six Bars-8MMK units, and the possibility of building new ones raises questions for economic and technological reasons. Time will tell what the ending of this story will be.
However, the events surrounding the new Ukrainian-Spanish project are not surprising. The problems of Ukrainian-made mortars have long been well known. The inability of Ukraine to independently produce high-quality military equipment in large quantities is not a secret either. Thus, even with the best outcome, Barca-8MMK will not be able to become truly massive and will not affect the combat effectiveness of the army - which is also in far from the best condition. With a different turn of events, this will be just another failure.