Self-propelled mortar “Bars-8MMK” in the stowed position
Since 2016, the Ukrainian industry has shown a promising self-propelled mortar “Bars-8MMK” at exhibitions. In the future, this project was brought to the assembly of the first batch of small sizes and even to acceptance tests. However, everything stopped there – the army refused to accept low-quality products. Because of this, the revision 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 specialists. The state concern Ukroboronprom has signed an agreement with the Spanish company Everis Aeroespacial y Defensa SLU (EAD) on the purchase of ready-made components for promising Ukrainian technology.
The project under the designation “Bars-8MMK” (“Mobile Minute Complex”) proposed the use of an armored car “Bars-8” of Ukrainian assembly as a base. It should have been equipped with Spanish-developed Alakran UKR-MMS mortar system components. The mortar barrels were to be supplied by one of the Ukrainian enterprises.
In the unfolded position – loading is in progress
The first samples of new technology appeared and went for testing in 2018-19. In August 2019, the Spanish and Ukrainian industry completed the first batch of six self-propelled mortars of the new type. Soon they were transferred to acceptance tests before being put into service. As the SC “Ukrobornprom” reported, the machines were tested. Now they could begin service in units of the ground forces.
The Bars-8MMK complex is based on the Bars-8 two-axle all-wheel drive armored vehicle on a Dodge Ram commercial chassis, equipped with anti-bullet and anti-fragmentation protection. All units of the mortar complex are mounted inside the armored hull; some are brought out during deployment.
In the front part of the armored cabin, the driver’s workplace is preserved and the commander’s post with the necessary electronics is organized. Behind them, at the sides, behind large doors, are placed two racks from the Alakran complex, each containing 30 minutes of 120 mm caliber. There is space between the shelves for the shooter to operate the machine gun on the roof.
Mortar system retracts inside the hull
A retractable device with guidance mechanisms and a mortar, developed by the Spanish side, is placed in the rear of the hull. In the transport position, this system is located inside the armored car. Before firing, hydraulic drives bring it out and set it on the ground. There are remotely controlled aiming drives that provide shooting in a 60 ° wide sector to the right and left of the longitudinal axis with an elevation from 45 to 85 degrees.
Data processing for firing and fire control are carried out from the commander’s and gunner’s consoles. The first is located in the cockpit, the second is on board the armored car. The Spanish-made equipment independently processes the incoming data and gives out the aiming angles, and then controls the operation of the drives. There is satellite navigation and other components necessary for a modern mortar.
The Barca-8MMK is armed with a Ukrainian copy of the Soviet 120-mm muzzle-loading mortar 2B11. The shot is carried out with a samonakol or with a trigger. Mortars are responsible for moving mines from the racks to the muzzle. The declared combat characteristics in general remained at the level of the base sample.
Installation in firing position
It is argued that Bars-8MMK is capable of quickly reaching a firing position, binding, calculating data for firing, deploying and aiming a gun and opening fire. After firing at the minimum time, leaving the position is carried out. In case of a collision with an 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 passing of tests and the delivery of equipment to the customer. However, as it has now become known, the army did not accept mortars due to the presence of significant shortcomings. Six finished machines have been sent for storage and stand idle pending a solution to the identified problems.
This development of events was reported on June 18, 2020 by the Ukrainian edition of Defense Express. According to him, “Bars-8MMK” was not accepted due to problems with the main armament. The first drawback is the questionable quality of the barrels. Also, the manufacturer has not yet provided the army with tables for firing such weapons.
External fire control panel
Thus, in its current form and in its current configuration, the self-propelled mortar complex cannot conduct aimed 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 its own calculation. Moreover, this is not the first story with low-quality Ukrainian-made mortars. It is distinguished only by the absence of accidents, injuries and victims, as in previous times.
It is reported that measures are already being taken to correct the identified deficiencies. The main one is the replacement of low-quality barrels with new products. The new supplier of mortars was the Ukrainian Armored Vehicles company. She supplied a number of new production barrels, repeating the design of the original product. Now they are being tested.
The main difficulties in the framework of the tests are associated with determining the resource of the barrels – such checks take the most time. During the check, the mortar must withstand 5 thousand shots at a set rate and breaks. By now, the testers have managed to complete 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, accordingly, modify the fire control system – such work should not take much time. Ukrainian sources report that the completion of the Barsa-8MMK is being carried out at the highest possible pace, but the timing of its completion remains unknown.
Mortar without mortar
Thus, a more than interesting situation has developed around Bars-8MMK products. A promising project of a mortar complex has been successfully brought to the stage of production, testing and transfer to the troops, but its operation does not seem possible. Moreover, the source of the problems was the key component – the mortar barrel, which determines the combat capabilities of the vehicle of the entire complex.
As for the other elements of the combat vehicle, the situation with them is much better. Armored cars “Bars-8” have not yet caused serious criticism. The Spanish EAD Alakran complex exists in several versions, is mass-produced, supplied to different countries and receives good reviews. However, the fate of the complex depends not only on high-quality guidance systems.
Measures have already been taken, but their effectiveness is still in question. A new mortar to replace a defective copy of 2B11 will have to go through a full test cycle and confirm 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 high-quality mortar, the whole project makes no sense.
The project still has some chance of success, and in this case, very interesting and promising self-propelled mortars will get to 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, there is nothing surprising in the events around the new Ukrainian-Spanish project. The problems of Ukrainian-made mortars have long been well known. It is no secret that Ukraine is unable to independently produce high-quality military equipment in large quantities. Thus, even with the best outcome, the Barsy-8MMK will not be able to become truly massive and will not in any way affect the combat effectiveness of the army, which is also in far from being the best condition. Otherwise, it will be just another failure.