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Role and place of military vehicles in the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation

Russian army at Red Square

Russian army at Red Square

The nature of current and anticipated hostilities, evolution in the forms and methods of warfare and experience of wars and armed conflicts in the past period demonstrate that mobility and maneuverability are becoming the major components in the fighting strength of troops. Military vehicles (MV) are the basic means that ensure tactical and operational mobility and maneuverability of troops and mobile land-based armaments and war materiel (AWM).

Military vehicles are vehicles created based on combat requirements of the Russian Federation Defense Ministry and used to mount and tow complexes of various weapon types and facilities that support their application.

By types, military vehicles are divided into special wheeled chassis and special wheeled truck tractors, military tracked transportation and traction vehicles, multipurpose vehicles, trailers, multipurpose semi-trailers, container bodies, multipurpose van bodies, as well as maintenance, repair and recovery vehicles.

In terms of classes, military vehicles are divided into wheeled and tracked vehicles.

MVs are an indispensable component in the armament system of the Russian Armed Forces intended, in a general case, to perform the following groups of tasks:

  • ensuring mobility and operation of land-based AWM systems (base motor vehicle chassis);
  • transportation and storage of resources (supply transport);
  • transportation of personnel, evacuation of the sick and wounded and life support of troops.

Since the time of their appearance, MVs have turned from the means of supply into an indispensable system forming component in the general armament system of the Russian Armed Forces. Currently, 95 % of mobile land-based armament and war materiel in the Russian Armed Forces are chassis-mounted. Vehicles have no less important roles in day-today life of armed forces, including transportation of personnel and property, supply of foods, support of duties, scheduled activities and so on. At present time, there are no practically units that can perform the mission they are assigned to without using motor vehicles.

MVs are the basic and the most broadly used type of transport in the Russian Armed Forces. They are used within all elements of combat order and perform missions throughout the operational depth of troops.

It is expected that the tendency towards an increased role of MVs in ensuring the required levels of mobility, readiness and protective properties of mobile land-based AWM models, complexes and systems will continue. This is contributed by: an increase in the number of the chassis-mounted AWM models;

  • giving self-propelled properties to the earlier towed or carried weapon systems;
  • a growth in the role of mobility of troops in current and anticipated hostilities;
  • expansion of separate combat support types with most of the facilities being chassis-mounted into special combat operations;
  • integration of numerous combat support means among each other and with weapons into complex multifunctional systems playing an essential role in achievement of combat objectives;
  • treaty restrictions on numbers of armored fighting vehicles that have caused the search for the acceptable options of their replacement for MVs capable to support the performance of missions without reducing drastically the combat capabilities of AWM, details and units;
  • using 25 % of the Russian Armed Forces’ motor vehicle fleet for maintenance of mobile stock and supply of materials.

In the conditions of no or destroyed railways, vehicles become practically the only means of military traffic. The specific weight of vehicles in the communications zone is 75-85 % and that in the army rear servicing is 85-100 % of the total traffic scope with all means of transport being used comprehensively. On the average, the demands for supply of troops with materials increase by 20-25 % during each 5-6 years with the fueling mass of motor rifle and tank divisions growing by a factor of 1.25-1.28 every 5 years. This means that the scope of material delivery by vehicles will grow continuously.

In its turn, the role of MVs in the Russian Armed Forces’ armament system inevitably leads to tougher requirements to its major combat characteristics (mobility, readiness for motion, survivability) on the part of troops.

Motor vehicle base chassis form the basis of the MVs fleet with more than 60 % of wheeled and tracked vehicles used for mounting of AWM. The prime task of base chassis is to support the required modes of AWM operation that stem from its function as well as by methods of utilization and combat application, i.e. base chassis should provide for the combat capabilities of the weapon systems mounted on them to be implemented in full thanks to high rates of redeployment, concealed and rapid maneuver, protection against adversary weapons by timely and rapid escape from fire as well as solution of some other tasks.

The tendency for a growth in the number of the chassis-mounted AWM models will continue into the future with the advanced AWM systems of the Topol, Iskander, Tochka and Uragan type as well as engineer weapons and electronic equipment to be mounted on the latest base chassis modes.

At present time, the number of base MV models and their modifications used to mount AWM for the interests of various services and arms of the Armed Forces is growing continuously. This makes it possible to consider any base MV model of all manufacturers within automotive industry and in other industries manufacturing MV items as multipurpose means of MV mobility.

Studies show that long-term quality requirements of the Russian Armed Forces become broader and the role of MVs in supporting the mobility of troops and mobile land-based armaments will grow.

At present time, work is underway to form an advanced fleet of military vehicles for the Russian Armed Forces. This is performed in accordance with the following major principles:

  • the newly developed ground mobile chassis of MVs for troops and services should be used in unified families of vehicles, predominantly using container bodies;
  • troops should be complemented with exclusively one vehicle make based on the principle that the tactical link is complemented with predominantly Ural family vehicles as the operational link is complemented with the KamAZ family vehicles;
  • morally and physically obsolete vehicles in the Armed Forces’ fleet should be coactively replaced;
  • the MV models remaining in service with troops, with taking account of their design features, should be remounted onto unified families of vehicles in the required modifications with regard for the principle of using a single vehicle make;
  • special wheeled chassis and tracked vehicles with mounted integral MV models should be overhauled and upgraded as required.

Implementation of these principles will help to refit the MV fleet of the Russian Armed Forces with conversion to advanced materiel models at such low cost as possible.

Based on orders and the terms of reference from the GTAD of the Russian Defense Ministry, Russian automotive industry has developed, tested and deployed the newest advanced models of the UAZ, GAZ, Ural and KamAZ motor vehicles, special BAZ and MZKT wheeled chassis and tracked military vehicles. Technically, these models are at the level of current and advanced foreign analogs and even excel these in some of the parameters. Another direction, apart from development of new models, is in-depth upgrade of commercial materiel, primarily through conversion to diesel engines.

The government, in the person of the Defense Ministry, invests in development of new materiel which leads to creation of MV prototypes and design documentation for its manufacture. The scientific and technical potential resulting from this is used to produce materiel employed not only for military but also for civilian purposes. Thus, the designs helping to enhance the cross-country capacity of MVs are broadly employed by manufacturers of special-purpose all-wheel-drive vehicles used in the country’s economy (truck-mounted cranes, excavators, drilling rigs, etc.). This reduces the cost of producing MVs on the one part and raises the quality and competitiveness of Russian motor vehicles on the other. Therefore, not only the Russian Defense Ministry but also the automotive community at large shows interest in the work to create advanced models of MVs and their components.

To sum up, it can be noted that MVs will continue to play its role as a component of AWM and will enhance this to such extent as required. The technical level of MVs largely defines the success of combat missions performed and the ability of weapon and war materiel models to implement in full their combat capabilities. Russian military vehicles fully meet these requirements.