Armored Cars: MODIAR iLdrim
As September drew to a close one of the most important arms shows in the Caspian region took place at the Azerbaijani capital. ADEX 2016 was the second installment of a state-sponsored exhibition whose sole purpose is attracting foreign firms to do business with the host country’s blossoming arms industry.
Spotted at ADEX was a brand new mine-resistant armored truck called the iLdrim. Its existence represents a new benchmark among former Soviet states who are now developing their own military vehicles. In recent years, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine have broken ground in this particular field. Ukraine most of all thanks to its somewhat effective automotive sector.
Azerbaijan’s growth as a leading customer for arms and eventual manufacturer of the same does have a single definitive salient feature: Its vast oil wealth controlled by the powerful Aliyevs is being funneled to a national war machine. Its purpose, of course, is to settle an old score with Armenia.
But the iLdrim’s existence represents something else beyond the license-built AK-74’s, Spike flyover anti-tank missiles, and imported T-90S tanks. It’s not only the latest from the Ministry of Defense and Industry of Azerbaijan or MODIAR–an institution that oversees all war-related functions in the Azerbaijani state–but could hint at future missions yet to be revealed.
The iLdrim’s only secret is almost given away by its appearance. Rather than a complete product of Azerbaijan engineering, it’s a model based on the Caprivi MRAP manufactured by the defense contractor Mobile Land Systems based in the UAE. The iLdrim does bear some alterations from its basis. The available product information shared at ADEX reveals it comes with STANAG II blast protection and weighs 15 tons. These are average traits for a vehicle of its type.
An obvious consideration when it came to the iLdrim’s layout is combat. There are firing ports on either row of windows in its passenger compartment and at least two machine gun turrets can be mounted on its roof. Details about its mobility have been withheld except for its engine type: a 265 horsepower Cummins diesel engine.
As an MRAP the iLdrim does possess the familiar characteristics that make it well-suited for domestic security purposes, i.e. urban combat. It’s obviously designed to carry different weapons and allows its passengers to fight from within the vehicle.
Azerbaijan is becoming a tough customer for different types of armored vehicles. Manufacturers from Canada, Israel, South Africa, and Turkey might appear well positioned to offer their best models. As a matter of fact, the Paramount Group from South Africa is offering the country’s ground forces new wheeled APCs as replacements for aging hand-me-down BTRs.
The iLdrim’s sudden appearance in ADEX 2016 together with another upcoming armored car is a clear declaration of intent from MODIAR. Azerbaijan will soon graduate to localized production and this reverses roles. From a customer to an exporter in a part of the world where domestic security is at a premium.
Still, the exact role of the iLdrim in the near future is hard to ascertain. Unless it’s destined for Azerbaijan’s token peacekeeping contributions abroad the nasty environment in Nagorno-Karabakh with its snipers, artillery, and land mines are a clear and present danger to its capabilities.
In the very saturated market for armored cars the world will just have to wait and see what impact the iLdrim leaves.