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A Closer Look At The Boomerang 8×8 APC

May 25, 2015
Russian Bumerang 8x8 APC MoD

A promotional photo of the Boomerang published on the eve of the May 9 parade. It features a remote controlled turret armed with a 12.7mm machine gun. The Boomerang that appeared in Red Square had a different turret armed with a 30mm main gun and tandem ATGM launchers. (Via Russian MoD.)

It’s the world’s newest 8×8 APC. After years of speculation the Boomerang’s debut during the May 9 Victory Day Parade in Red Square signalled a break from previous wheeled APCs made in Russia. Until now analysis of the Boomerang is done on a smaller scale compared to the T-14 Armata and its derivatives. Tanks, after all, are far more dramatic than APCs.

But there is a certain mystique surrounding the Boomerang. It’s a sentiment inspired by the glaring fact that it resembles certain Western European APCs. So did Russia’s military-industrial complex copy its way to innovation?

Russian Bumerang 8x8 APC May 4 rehearsal

Left side view of the Boomerang during a night time rehearsal on May 4. (Via Russian MoD.)

8×8 APCs are now mandatory for armed forces around the world, especially those pretending to be modern. This is because 8×8’s are well-suited for paved roads during urban combat and afford lots of visibility from gun sights, periscopes, viewing slits, hatches, and even mounted cameras.

8×8 APCs are also at the forefront of the ongoing “modular” revolution in military affairs, where a single vehicle type is upgraded to suit a specific mission. Furthermore, 8×8 APCs today support varying combinations of weapons and protective measures. For these reasons, 8×8’s are now ubiquitous, manufactured in at least 20 different countries.

The wheeled 8×8 was already viable as far back as World War 2–the Nazi Sdkfz 234 armored car comes to mind. The low intensity wars of the 21st century, however, eschew heavier vehicles for lighter, faster, and air transportable options. Each of these traits are universal among 8×8 APCs. Now on to the Boomerang.

What It Has

The development stage of the Boomerang is wrapped in total secrecy. It was neither subjected to publicized tests nor displayed at an arms show. When it finally appeared this year, first with its body covered by canvass during parade rehearsals, then during night time rehearsals in Red Square, and on Victory Day itself, the Boomerang was unlike any Russian APC in existence.

As a matter of fact, it could be mistaken for either the Italian Iveco SuperAV or the French Nexter VBCI, the latter an 8×8 that was licensed-produced by Uralvagonzavod for a limited period. The front of the Boomerang and the VBCI resemble each other. So does the placement of headlights and the position of the driver’s hatch next to the engine. Did French and Italian APCs influence the Boomerang’s R&D?

One of the great mysteries of Russia’s rearmament is the input from European defense contractors. So little of this collusion has been publicized it’s hardly worth writing about at length. A different perspective arises when the Boomerang’s heritage is examined against the backdrop of Soviet APC development. Examining the arrangement of its hull, wheels, and amphibious propellers inspires comparisons with the defunct BTR-90 program. Unlike the BTR-80, however, the BTR-90 never enjoyed continuous production.

In other aspects, the Boomerang is no different from its peers. Unlike the VBCI, there is no commander’s hatch behind the driver’s, who enters the compartment via four step rails on the vehicle’s left side. There are only two other roof hatches behind the turret. Passengers enter and disembark via a rear door. The hull of the Boomerang appears to be encased in a hull reinforced with bolted armor plating–a feature that literally covers the vehicle’s entire surface.

What It Does

The Boomerang is heavily armed and amphibious. It appears to have larger dimensions than similar APCs like the Finnish Patria, the Austrian Pandur, and the German Boxer.

The variant that drove by the Lenin Mausoleum on May 9 had an unspecified remote control turret with a 30mm main gun, a 7.62mm coaxial machine gun, and separate launchers for tandem Kornet anti-tank missiles. This appears to be a further development of the Berezhok turret made by KBM, further advancing the argument the Boomerang used available technology.

The turret’s module, which fits a commander and gunner, suggests an IFV configuration allowing for a three-man crew with space in the rear that fits six passengers.

Russian Bumerang APC 8x8 rear view

Rear view of the Boomerang. Note the thickness of the armor panels on its sides.

Like most Russian APCs, the Boomerang can swim. The front of the vehicle supports a very obvious trim vane and there are a pair of propellers at the rear. The Boomerang’s power plant is unknown. As an 8×8, however, it likely uses a diesel or turbo-diesel engine producing between 400 to 500 horsepower.

Its speed are matters of intelligent guess work. APCs similar to the Boomerang manage at least 100 kilometers-per-hour with a maximum range of 600 or 700 kilometers. Regarding its weight, since it has a turret and is encased in armor plate, the Boomerang could reach 35 tons. Its communications, fire control system, CBRN protection, navigation, and other internal features are impossible to determine at the moment.

So how many Boomerang’s will be manufactured?

This depends on the requirements of the Russian Army and the annual defense budget. Putting into consideration the current numbers of 8×8 APCs used by Western European militaries, at least 500 Boomerangs could enter service in the next few years. But this is speculation. The Boomerang’s existence, however, isn’t speculative.