The main transport and means of fire support for the Russian infantry are wheeled armored personnel carriers. There are several types of such equipment in service with certain features, and new models are expected to arrive in the near future. The overall quantitative and qualitative composition has certain features that can affect the real combat capability.
Technology from the past
Now in service there are several types of armored personnel carriers, not counting their modifications. At the same time, even outdated vehicles, such as the BTR-60 and BTR-70, are officially included in the troops. According to The Military Balance reference books in recent years, there are about 800 units. BTR-60 and approx. 200 units BTR-70. In addition, up to 4 thousand machines of these types are on storage bases.
The main model of its class in the army is currently the newer BTR-80 (A). Such equipment in the amount of more than 1500-1700 units. available from the ground forces, the marines and other structures. The overwhelming majority of such equipment belongs to the basic modification with machine gun armament. The number of cannon BTR-80A does not exceed 100-150 units.
The ground forces include several dozen motorized rifle regiments and brigades. Some of these formations are equipped with armored personnel carriers, others use infantry fighting vehicles. According to the state, the regimental (brigade) set includes more than a hundred armored personnel carriers. Thus, the drill equipment makes it possible to provide the service and combat work of a significant number of units, and with the help of the reserve, new units can be deployed.
BTR-82A new construction
BTR-60 and BTR-70 are outdated in terms of their characteristics. The newer BTR-80 (A) is better in all respects, but it has also been criticized. By modern standards, this vehicle has insufficient booking and cannot receive additional protection, and the layout does not ensure the safety of the landing force when dismounting. The machine gun armament of the basic modification is insufficient for a number of combat missions.
Taking into account the shortcomings of the BTR-80 at the end of the two thousandth, an updated BTR-82 project was created. It provided for the renewal of the power plant, the addition of standard armor with new components, the use of an improved set of weapons, etc. As noted at the time, as a result of such modernization, the effectiveness of the armored personnel carrier has doubled.
In 2011, at the Arzamas Machine-Building Plant (controlled by the “Military Industrial Company”), the serial production of armored personnel carriers BTR-82A started, these were new vehicles. Soon they launched the modernization of the BTR-80 cash according to the BTR-82AM project. The first batches of equipment were sent to the troops and mastered at the beginning of the 2000s. In 2013, the BTR-82A (M) was officially adopted. It is curious that the army decided to purchase only cannon armored vehicles. However, the machine-gun version of the BTR-82 did not go unnoticed. Under the designation BTR-82V, it entered service with the Russian Guard.
The production of new BTR-82A has been carried out since the beginning of the last decade under several contracts, each of which provides for the supply of dozens of pieces of equipment. In 2014 and 2016. there were two orders for large-scale modernization of the cash BTR-80 to the state of “82AM”. New and updated equipment entered various units and formations of the ground forces.
BTR-82AM, rebuilt from the car of the previous model
The exact number of BTR-82A (M) has not been officially disclosed, but there are different estimates. So, The Military Balance indicates that at the beginning of 2020, the ground forces had 1,000 vehicles of two modifications. The Marine Corps counted 661 units. and 20 units. in the airborne troops. In the past, official reports have referred to the rearmament of several units and formations.
Thus, the total production of BTR-82A (M) in recent years has exceeded the number of available BTR-80. According to various sources, the production of such equipment continues, both from scratch and by rebuilding old machines. Consequently, the number of BTR-82s of all versions will increase in the future, and the number of BTR-80s should be gradually reduced. The proportion of vehicles of different types in the total fleet will change accordingly.
Measures are being taken to further develop the BTR-80/82 line. The original design of the BTR-82 provides additional protection against shrapnel and mines, but leaves the vehicle vulnerable to anti-tank weapons. Last year, a prototype of the BTR-82AT armored personnel carrier was presented without such problems. This project proposes to equip the enclosure with overhead elements and lattice screens. In addition, it is possible to use both a standard cannon-machine gun turret and new combat modules.
It is well known that even the most modern BTR-82, in terms of some key decisions, goes back to the long-obsolete BTR-60, and this leads to a number of serious problems. To get rid of them, fundamentally new models of armored vehicles for the infantry are being developed. The future replacement for modern wheeled armored personnel carriers should be the K-16 vehicle based on the Boomerang platform, which is being developed by the Military Industrial Company.
BTR-82AT with hinged protection and a new combat module
The development of a unified platform and an armored personnel carrier based on it started at the beginning of the tenth years. In 2013, the finished sample was first shown to a narrow circle of leaders of the military department and the country, and in 2015 the first public demonstration took place. Development work continues to this day. As reported in recent years, it is now about optimizing design, manufacturing technology and cost.
According to recent reports, several experimental K-16 armored personnel carriers and K-17 infantry fighting vehicles have already been built on the Boomerang platform, but their exact numbers are unknown. Using this technique, preliminary tests were carried out. Last year, the assembly of a new batch of prototypes for state tests began, the start of which was scheduled for the summer of 2020. These events will end next year, and preparations for the series have already begun.
Despite the general atmosphere of secrecy, one can already imagine what the promising K-16 is better than the existing BTR-80/82. By increasing the size and permissible weight, it was possible to use more powerful bulletproof, projectile and anti-mine booking. A wider range of combat modules with machine gun, cannon and rocket armament is also offered. Increases the safety of the landing force when traveling and when dismounting.
The required number of “Boomerangs” in one design or another has not yet been announced. At the same time, the development company speaks of its readiness to produce mass-produced equipment in any quantities ordered by the military department. The Ministry of Defense, in turn, is not yet ready to disclose its plans.
The official image of the BTR K-16 on the Boomerang platform
Apparently, in the first years, the production of K-16 will be carried out in an amount of no more than a few dozen per year. This will allow re-equipping some of the connections using old-style techniques. In the future, an increase in rates is possible, capable of accelerating the process of re-equipping troops.
However, the question of the capabilities of the Ministry of Defense and Industry remains open. It is not known whether it will be possible to replace all outdated vehicles with Boomerangs within a reasonable time frame, or even in the distant future, it will be necessary to keep a certain number of BTR-80/82 in service.
State and prospects
Currently, the ground, coastal and airborne troops have a fairly large number of armored personnel carriers of different models with different capabilities. There are at least 3-3.2 thousand modern types of vehicles of this class in service; several thousand more armored personnel carriers, mostly obsolete, are in storage. All this makes it possible to maintain the required level of equipment of the troops, and also creates a noticeable reserve for modernization.
In recent years, the equipment has been updated according to new projects and the construction of new machines. In addition, work is being completed on a fundamentally new family of armored vehicles. Thus, the development process of wheeled armored personnel carriers does not stop and regularly gives new results. More messages about these processes may appear in the very near future.