Ukraine’s defense industry is offering potential customers, both on the domestic and export markets, a wheeled armoured personnel carrier designated BTR-3E. Developed and built up by the Morozov Machine Design Bureau in Kharkiv, this infantry carrier has every chance of gaining a niche of its own on that highly competitive market.
The BTR-3E is a 16t highly maneuverable wheeled fully amphibian vehicle armed with powerful weapons. Its internal volume is enough to accommodate a squad of six infantry personnel, in addition to a 3-man crew (commander/section leader, gunner and driver).
The engine compartment of the Ukrainian APC can be tailored to power plants of either the indigenous or foreign manufacture. The APC in the BTR-3E1 configuration is powered by an indigenous UTD-20 diesel engine providing 300 hp. The engine, designed and built by Pivdendieselmach in Tokmak, operates with a high degree of efficiency in environments heated up to shade temperatures of +50oC (+122oF). The UTD20 can consume both diesel fuel or aviation kerosene alike, and offers a fuel endurance of 750 km on highway.
With a mechanical gearbox, the vehicle is much cheaper than equivalents equipped with automatic transmissions. The vehicle’s eight wheels, all of them driving, can be equipped with tires from Michelin of France or the domestic producer Dniproshyna. These wear-proof tires provide an ideal solution to operation in high-temperature environments, allowing the vehicle’s engine to fully display its worth, specifically to move at 100 km/h on highway (by way of comparison, the BTR-80’s ‘rubber legs’ only allow for 85 km/h during 30 minutes at the longest). Wheel ground pressure does not exceed 0.2-0.3 μpa.
The BTR-3E is a fully amphibious vehicle, powered while afloat by one water-jet propeller installed in the rear hull and capable of a maximum water speed of 10 km/h.
To prepare the vehicle for water, the driver erects a trim vane and switches on the bilge pumps from his position within the vehicle. Ballistic steel for the vehicle’s all-welded hull – which competes in quality with the best foreign-made ballistic steel grades - is supplied by the Ukrainian steel makers Azovstal and Zaporizhstal. The vehicle’s armor is additionally reinforced with a Kevlar lining, securing the crew and passengers from 12.7-mm small arms fire, which fully conforms to NATO armor protection standards. The hull and running gear are designed in such a way so that to provide the required level of anti-mine protection, enabling the vehicle to withstand under-wheel detonation of HE anti-tank mines. For comfort of the crew and passengers, the height of the ceiling in the fighting compartment has been increased by 150 mm, and there is also room for air conditioning (which is provided as an optional extra).
Air conditioning, as strongly suggested by experience out of most recent military campaigns, particularly in Iraq, is a prime necessity for durable missions in high temperature environments. Furthermore, the vehicle is equipped with protective facilities to shield the crew and infantry squad from penetrating radiation, toxic agents, germ weapons or radioactive dust during movement over contaminated terrain.
The vehicle mounts a 1.3t unmanned remote weapons station designated SHTURM. Operation of the remote weapons station to best effect is enabled using an aiming-and-observation suite and an automatic TREK fire control system. The latter can be integrated with a thermal imaging system. The system’s target detection and identification performance is a function of the capabilities of the TV camera used.
The BTR-3E is also outfitted with a panoramic camera. This is installed on a retractable rod on the roof of the weapons station, providing the crew with a perimeter close-range observation capability, which is indispensable in operations in built-up environments. The overall price tag of the vehicle varies with the cost of optional extras.