A Closer Look At The GAZ Tiger 4×4
While Europe waits for the Crimean referendum’s [predictable] outcome with bated breath, Russian forces in the peninsula means the territory remains theirs until a very dramatic turn of events dislodges them.
The annexation of Crimea and the crisis’ livestreaming across the globe provided an excellent opportunity to scrutinize Russia’s new conventional weapons. With a military undergoing long-term rearmament, the fruits of this effort were quickly noticed from the new digital camouflage worn by masked soldiers to their transports.
Since it began operations in Crimea using special forces, however, Russia’s military presence there was first announced by the unmistakable Tigr–“Tiger”–armored car. The GAZ Tigr 2330 is a four wheel drive transport used by Russia’s airborne units and law enforcement agencies.
Although comparable to the ubiquitous Humvee, the Tiger has fewer variants and isn’t as widely used by the regular ground forces, many of whom still deploy on APCs such as the BTR-80.
Despite being designated a product of GAZ, the state-owned automaker, the Tiger is manufactured by the Military Industrial Company (MIC or VPK in Russian). Formed in 2006 as a new company separate from the original GAZ, which is now focused on commercial vehicles, MIC is responsible for manufacturing the latter BTR series (80 and 90) as well as various armored transports.
According to their website:
In August 2006, the Russian Machines board of directors took a decision to reorganise its motor vehicle business and turn the production of military vehicles by its subsidiaries into a separate business unit. The task to organise the whole spectrum of work as part of the cooperation with Russian uniformed agencies and foreign customers was vested in the Military Industrial Company (Russian acronym – VPK), a limited liability company set up in late July that year.
At present, VPK is a management company for the manufacturing enterprises specialising in military gear production, including the Arzamas Machinery Plant JSC in the city of Arzamas, Armored Hull Plant JSC in Vyksa and Military Engineering Centre LLC in Nizhny Novgorod, whose personnel amounts to about 6,000.
The Tiger isn’t a new vehicle and most online profiles reveal its origins date to 2002, with production starting three years later.
Powered by a Cummins B205 20 diesel engine, the Tiger can reach speeds in the 140 km/h range. Its armor protection withstands small arms fire and fragments. Even if it’s capable of fording rivers and streams, the Tiger shouldn’t be mistaken for an amphibious vehicle.
The Tiger seats four passengers and its spacious rear compartment could fit a squad of soldiers. Its turret usually supports either a tandem machine gun and a grenade launcher or a different weapon system. A different model of the GAZ 2330 line comes with a turret mount for Kornet anti-tank missiles.
Detailed specifications from the manufacturer can be found here. Since it entered production the Tiger has been exported to several countries, including a licensed production deal with China. Exactly how many Tigers are in Crimea is unknown.