The K-17 infantry fighting vehicle, returning from the Victory Parade that had died down on June 24, stopped at the intersection of Mnevniki and Demyan Bedny streets in the North-Western district of the capital, after which smoke began to pour out of it. Many media outlets decided to use the frightening word “on fire” or the wording “out of order” in the title of their articles. In fact, of course, the reasons for what happened could be very different.
A specialist in the armored field, Aleksey Khlopotov, noted that the cause of the incident could have been an abnormal operation of thermal smoke equipment – a device for setting up smoke screens. “As a rule, the principle of its operation is the direct injection of diesel fuel into the hot exhaust pipe of the engine with a lack of oxygen,” the expert wrote, adding that it also does not exclude depressurization or breakage of the pipeline connection.
It is unlikely that the incident will entail a revision of the program, but he once again reminded that the finalization of new equipment is a long and painstaking process. The Boomerang wheeled platform is no exception. Moreover, for Russia, the vehicle is revolutionary in many respects: previously, the country simply did not have wheeled complexes comparable in armament and protection.
On a string to the world
Recall that for the first time the car was presented at a private show at the Russia Arms EXPO in 2013, and the general public was able to see the platform at the rehearsal of the Victory Parade in 2015. As in the case of “Armata” and “Kurganets-25”, we are not talking about a specific model of armored vehicles, but about a whole family of combat vehicles built on a single base. On the basis of “Boomerang” have already developed the BMP K-17, as well as the armored personnel carrier K-16. The basic version of the BMP K-17 has a combat module “Epoch”, also known as “Boomerang-BM”. He received a 30 mm 2A42 automatic cannon with a coaxial 7.62 mm PKTM machine gun and four Kornet anti-tank missiles with laser guidance.
The latter can hardly be called a modern solution. Such systems do not fully provide the “fire-and-forget” principle, require illumination until the target is hit and can unmask the one who is firing, which may ultimately end in disaster for the Boomerang itself. However, in this case, there is nothing to choose from: Russia, we recall, still does not have its conditional analogue of the FGM-148 Javelin, not to mention the new generation of anti-tank missiles, which, in addition to the “fire and forget” principle, have a good range (Javelin it cannot boast).
From the pros: “Epoch” or “Boomerang-BM” is unified for use not only on BMP K-17, but also BMP B-11 based on Kurganets-25 and heavy T-15 based on Armata. As for the promising armored personnel carrier based on the “Boomerang”, it should receive a module with a 12.7-mm machine gun. The armored personnel carrier can be called a “much cheaper version”, but it is more correct to say that the BMP and the armored personnel carrier will play different roles on the battlefield and outside it.
Despite the relatively modest firepower, the differences between the new armored personnel carrier and Soviet vehicles of this class are enormous: the only thing that unites them is the 8 x 8 wheel arrangement.
“Everything else is fundamentally different: the layout with a front-mounted power plant, the troop compartment in the stern and landing at the stern, modular booking, a high level of mine and ballistic protection, digital board, situational awareness system, on-board information management system and much more. I will say this: no one has ever done this in our country before, and many systems have no analogues abroad either, ”
– said in 2018 the head of the “Military-Industrial Company” Alexander Krasovitsky.
There is nothing surprising in the fact that the new vehicles will be very different from Soviet infantry fighting vehicles and armored personnel carriers: the time of the latter for objective reasons has passed. What is really surprising is the attempt to cross a bulldog with a rhinoceros.
Recall that in 2017, at the Army-2017 forum, they demonstrated the capabilities of the Boomerang platform with the B05Ya01 Berezhok manned combat module instead of the uninhabited Epoch. The B05Ya01 Berezhok armament complex includes a 30-mm 2A42 automatic cannon, a 7.62-mm PKTM coaxial machine gun, an AG-30 30-mm automatic grenade launcher, and the Kornet complex guided missiles. The same is installed on BMP-2M infantry fighting vehicles.
It is not entirely clear why the choice fell on this “original” option. The simplest explanation: this is an attempt to make the complex cheaper, abandoning the advantages (in particular, survivability) that an uninhabited module can give. However, was it worth then investing in such an expensive project at all in order to eventually return to economies in the style of the 90s? In any case, at the parade we saw a car with the “Epoch” module: we must assume that this option will be the main one.
“Boomerang” – to be?
State tests of the promising Boomerang platform will begin before the end of 2020. This was announced in June 2020 by the general director of “VPK” Alexander Krasovitsky. After their completion, serial deliveries of combat vehicles to the troops should begin. According to the designer, as a result of the growing dynamics of modern local conflicts, highly mobile samples are needed, therefore, in addition to armored personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles, reconnaissance armored vehicles and armored recovery vehicles, in the future, on the basis of Boomerang, a wheeled tank with a weapon similar to the 125-mm 2A75 installed on the tracked “Sprut-SD”. It also suggests an analogy with the famous Italian combat vehicle Centauro, which is sometimes called the “tank destroyer”.
However, given the already huge variety of main battle tanks and their versions in the Russian army, this option seems completely unnecessary and even “harmful” in terms of unification. Which, of course, does not mean at all that the army does not need the Boomerang platform itself.
If the Kurganets-25 concept intersects with the Armata concept (although they are in different weight categories), then Russia simply does not have an analogue of Boomerang comparable in defense. Do not forget that after the well-known events, the country can no longer count on the purchase of such samples from the West. So the hope is only on your own strength.
It is also obvious that, as we said above, the era of Soviet armored personnel carriers is leaving. In the new century, there is no place for combat vehicles with low armor protection and a completely unsatisfactory scheme of disembarkation and landing of troops using side doors, in which soldiers are not protected by armor and constantly risk their lives. It is noteworthy that Ukrainian developers, not having much money and experience in creating modern technology, solved this issue on the BTR-4 “Bucephalus”: it, we recall, has a stern ramp, which is badly lacking in Russian armored personnel carriers. However, this does not remove the question of the survivability of the machine itself, and, besides this, “Bucephalus” has such a large number of flaws that the big question is whether it can even be considered as a full-fledged combat vehicle.
Simply put, neither “childhood illnesses” or technical flaws such as the high visibility of the machine in the infrared spectrum will probably not “kill” the new Russian project, and its main shortcomings will be gradually eliminated.