Military Industrial Company General Director Alexander Krasovitsky: We are ready to make wheeled tank
Photo courtesy of the Military Industrial Company press office
Question: At what stage is the work on the Atlet family of vehicles? When the beginning and completion of state trials are expected to take place?
Answer: The tests of experimental versions of the Atlet special multipurpose armored vehicle are proceeding strictly according to schedule. The preliminary trials have been completed now, and the vehicles are being prepared for state trials, which, despite anything, will begin in the near future. We plan to complete them before the end of this year.
I would like to add that during the preliminary tests, the experimental vehicles covered 16,000 kilometers each in line with an expedited test program, which is equivalent to 30,000 kilometers in regular conditions, along various road types and mostly in an off-road terrain, upon artificial humps, and other surface types. None of the vehicles manifested any defects over this time! This enables us to start the state trials confidently.
Despite all problems associated with the Covid-19 pandemic, the company was assigned the O letter for the Atlet vehicles in April, so authorizing it to start developing design documents for the vehicle's civilian version. This can be explained by the fact that, after the vehicle was exhibited at the Army 2019 forum, we have received a number of orders for this armored vehicle, including from abroad. The assignment of the O letter also allows for starting research and development works to equip the Atlet vehicle with various types of weapons. We plan to outfit this vehicle with a new remote-operated combat module, which we are developing together with our partners from the Oruzheiniye Masterskiye company.
Q.: How many versions of the Atlet vehicle are being developed? What types of weapons will it get?
A.: Two versions of the Atlet armored vehicle have been allotted for the trials, namely the AMN 233121 multi-purpose five-door and the ASN 233122 special-purpose three-door vehicles with a rotating turret on the roof. The Atlet special purpose vehicle has no own weapons, as its crew and landing unit may fire their standard firearms through the window ports or from the roof hatch. The ASN 233122 is armed with a 12.7-mm Kord machinegun, a 30-mm AGS-17 automatic grenade launcher and a 7.62 PKP Pecheneg machinegun, each of which can be installed in the rotating turret. The vehicle has locks for weapons, ammunition, and RPG-26 (RShG-2) antitank missiles.
In the future, the Atlet armored vehicles could be equipped with a large range of various weapons at the customer's request. These range from simple turrets with small arms and various remote-operated combat modules with large-caliber machine guns to combat modules with automatic guns and antitank or air defense missile systems. Everything will depend on the customer's desire and imagination. In particular, we plan to equip the Atlet armored vehicle with a remote-operated combat module with a 30-mm automatic gun, which we are developing together with our colleagues from the Oruzheiniye Masterskiye company.
Q.: Will the production of the Tigr armored continue after the serial production of the Atlet armored vehicles is launched, or they will be taken out of production?
A.: Naturally, the production of the Tigr vehicle will continue after the serial production of the Atlet vehicle begins. Just have a look. We have been serially producing BTR-82A armored personnel carriers for more than 10 years, but at the same time we continue to produce BTR-80 armored personnel carriers, because there are customers, a number of special services, that need the BTR-80. The same thing is with the Tigr vehicle. Moreover, the number of foreign customers who need the Tigr vehicle has been growing steadily now. It should be noted that dozens of combat and combat support systems, such as the Kornet-E self-propelled antitank missile system, the Gibka-S air defense system, the Leyer-2 electronic warfare system, various command post and communication vehicles and many other systems based on the Tigr chassis, have been developed and put into service. It should also be noted that the characteristics and potential of the Tigr and the Atlet vehicles slightly differ, that is why I think that the production of the Tigr vehicle will continue for at least 10-15 years.
The Russian army has tested a significant part of its weapons in various antiterrorist operations. Tigr vehicles took part in many of them. Have the military made any remarks regarding the vehicle's combat exploitation? What changes were made to the vehicle's design?
Tigr armored vehicles and BTR-82A armored personnel carriers have many times been used in various peacekeeping and antiterrorist operations in many regions of the world. We also closely follow how our equipment operates there and listen to requests of those who directly operate it in combat. We gather such information from those who return from these trouble spots, and we have many times sent our specialists there. Often servicemen who operated our equipment in combat visit our stands at exhibitions and share their impressions and wishes with us. By the way, with no exception all of them thanked us for good and reliable vehicles. It is very pleasant for us. This is the best mark of our work.
There was no need to make any drastic or considerable changes in the design of the armored vehicles. Our designers always make adjustments in the vehicles' design. One should understand that the Tigr vehicles and the armored personnel carriers produced in 2006 and 2020 totally differ. In general, requests are made regarding insignificant changes related to comfortable sitting and maintenance.
Q.: The Military Industrial Company has developed a right-hand drive and luxury versions of the Tigr vehicle. Has anyone already shown interest in them?
A.: Naturally, there is great interest in such vehicles. Just recently we have shipped a batch of several dozen specially armored right-hand drive Tigr vehicles to an African country. The vehicles have already arrived there and were put in service.
As for the luxury, or as we call it VIP, version of the Tigr vehicle, this is a custom-built rarity. Several vehicles have already been bought, and we are ready to deliver such vehicles to other customers as well.
Q.: How many Tigr vehicles are sold to individuals? Who is interested in the civilian version of this vehicle? Businessmen, politicians?
A.: The share of sales to individuals is insignificant. Moreover, these vehicles are custom-made for such customers. As I said, this is a rarity, an exclusive craftwork. But still there are customers for such products. We build 10-15 such vehicles annually. Since Tigr vehicles are expensive, rich people buy them. They are businessmen, politicians, artists, and high-ranking priests. They are people who values power multiplied by luxury in wild nature, where a Tigr but no other off-road vehicle can get.
Q.: It was reported earlier that state trials of the Bumerang platform will begin in summer 2020. How much time will they take? When will the army be able to get them? Has the coronavirus infection influenced the schedule?
A.: The Military Industrial Company, the Main Motor Vehicle and Armor Directorate and research institutes of the Russian Defense Ministry have completed preliminary trials of prototypes based on the Bumerang unified armored wheeled platform in line with the research and development schedule. In the course of the trials, the prototypes confirmed their characteristics indicated in the technical assignment.
New prototypes are being prepared on industrial sites of the Military Industrial Company within the framework of the Bumerang project, and state trials of the vehicles are due to begin this year. The Bumerang project has been on schedule. The first serial combat vehicles based on the Bumerang unified armored wheeled platform will be delivered to forces upon the completion of state trials and commissioning.
Q.: Are there plans to equip the Bumerang platform with a tank cannon? Is the army interested in a wheeled tank?
A.: Yes, indeed, there were reports about a possibility to create a light wheeled tank based on the Bumerang platform. The Bumerang unified multiservice wheeled armored platform is capable of carrying a cannon similar with the one of the 2S25 Sprut-SD self-propelled system. Intensifying dynamics of local conflicts requires higher mobility of infantry and artillery weapons, and if clients need a combat vehicle of the sort, the company will be ready to accommodate their needs.
A short time ago, the Russian Defense Ministry held a conference dedicated to the development of new types of weapons and military and special hardware, and we offered our Bumerang unified wheeled armored platform for any such projects. The armies of Russia, NATO, and some other countries give increasing attention to wheeled weapons and military and special hardware, so the Bumerang unified wheeled armored platform could become the foundation of a new family of wheeled special and combat vehicles, such as reconnaissance vehicles, armored repair-and-evacuation vehicles, command vehicles, fire support vehicles, air defense or artillery command vehicles with relevant reconnaissance and control functions, medical vehicles, and many others.
Q.: You said earlier about adjusting the Medved armored vehicle, which is larger than the Tigr and which was developed for the Interior Ministry, to the needs of the army. Is the project still on the table? If yes, how will it differ from the police version?
A.: The VPK-3924 Medved special police vehicle became the first MRAP vehicle in Russia. The armored vehicle underwent all tests and was put into service with the Russian Guard.
Representatives of the Defense Ministry showed interest in the vehicle and its potential for the Armed Forces at a number of exhibitions and shows. The Russian Defense Ministry planned to develop a technical assignment, so that we create a military version of the Medved vehicles. The main differences of the military version of the Medved armored vehicle include a filter unit and locks for weapons and ammunition.
Another positive element in the design of the Medved vehicle is that it is unified as much as possible with serial military vehicles used by the Russian Armed Forces. For example, the power unit and transmission installed in the Medved are from serial Ural army trucks, while suspension elements are from armored personnel carriers. These are the Medved's advantages compared to other MRAP vehicles.
Q.: What advanced research and development projects is the Military Industrial Company involved in?
A.: Today, engineers and designers of the Military Industrial company are simultaneously working on 14 research and development projects aiming to create 14 new vehicles, including new versions of the Tigr armored vehicle, BTR-82A armored personnel carrier, and the Bumerang unified wheeled armored platform.
For example, we are working to complete research and development work under the Atlet project. Test samples of the vehicle will soon begin state trials.
As I said, we are working to upgrade BTR-80/82 wheeled armored personnel carriers. Despite their age, the potential of these vehicles is far from being exhausted. Our designers are working on various ways to upgrade these vehicles, in particular to equip them with advanced combat modules and to boost their protection. Together with our colleagues from the Oruzheiniye Masterskiye company we have developed a technology of upgrading armored personnel carriers of the BTR-60/70/80/82 families, allowing to considerably boost their fore power without replacing the firing compartment and even without removing the turret. Fire potential is boosted through installing a new aiming system with a new-generation thermal sight, a laser ranging device and a two-axis stabilized sightline.
We are planning to show a test sample of the new version of the BTR-82AT armored personnel carrier with a set of protective shield and a new remote-operated combat module.
Let me note that the new remote-operated combat module is our another independent development. This module can be installed on almost every armored personnel carrier, either a wheeled or tracked one, making an infantry fighting vehicle out of it.
Our designers are independently developing the VPK-59095S VPK-Ural armored vehicle. We presented this vehicle last year at the Army 2019 international military and technical forum, and many potential customers liked it. One such vehicle had been shipped to a foreign country even before factory trials were completed.
This year we independently created a light multipurpose armored vehicle and one more vehicle based on the Tigr chassis. We will also show these latest developments at the Army 2020 forum.
After we got a new expertise, the development and production of tracked vehicles, we are developing the 5901 tracked floating snow-and swamp-going vehicle, which has carrying capacity of five tonnes. We also plan to show this vehicle at the upcoming Army 2020 forum.
Q.: In 2018, you said that about the resumption of work on the Volk vehicle. At what stage is the project today? Why is there need for such a vehicle if the Tigr and the Atlet will soon appear?
A.: Formally, the research and development project under which the Volk armored vehicles were developed and tested is over. This was a very interesting work, and we tested new technologies, designing and engineering solutions. For example, an automatically adjusted hydropneumatic suspension and an on-board information and control system were tested in the Volk family vehicles for the first time in our country, just as it was the first time that a module design and additional ceramic armor plates were used.
But as it often happens in our dynamically developing world, conditions and requirements changes, and new technologies appeared. This led us to getting a technical assignment for a new vehicle. Of course, we are using developments made when we worked on the Volk vehicles in our work on new types of wheeled armored vehicles.
Q.: Is the BTR-82 the final version of the deep modernization of the BTR-80 armored personnel carrier, or new versions may appear? Is the modernization potential of the BTR-80 exhausted?
A.: Naturally, the modernization potential of the BTR-80/82A armored personnel carriers is far from being exhausted. Making weapons and military equipment with a huge modernization potential is a characteristic feature of Russia's design school.
I have already spoken about immediate plans to upgrade the armored personnel carrier. In future, the vehicle will have greater fire power, better protection and command control, while its mobility and reliability will remain at the previously high level. The best balance of combat characteristics and high exploitation reliability of the armored personal carrier ensure its high combat effectiveness. After we together with our partners from the Oruzheiniye Masterskiye company complete the work on the new combat module, which I have already spoken about, we will make another upgrade of the BTR-82A armored personnel carrier.
Moreover, work on new specialized vehicles based on the BTR-82A is underway. One of such developments is the Taifun-M combat anti-sabotage vehicle created by the Strela research and production company on the basis of the BTR-82. It is designed to protect mobile strategic missile systems.
Work on creating a combat reconnaissance vehicle on the basis of the BTR-82 is underway. Moreover, the option of creating the Sosna self-propelled short-range air defense missile system is being worked on.
As new samples of arms or special equipment appear and if there is a need to create their wheeled versions, new versions of the BTR-82 armored personnel carrier and special vehicles on its base will appear. The thing is that a possibility of crossing water barrier afloat is an important advantage of this vehicle compared to other armored wheeled chassis.