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Armored Cars: Ukrainian Armor Varta

June 6, 2017

The Varta is a new armored truck manufactured in Ukraine. Its product literature insists it’s built to NATO standards. Appearance-wise, however, it conforms to the prevailing trends for large wheeled transports. It’s tall, broad, and outlined by sharp angles. Truth be told, its generic looks could leave it mistaken for the competition. It’s best to simply ascertain the “Varta” logo on the cusp of its hood, just above the automatic towing winch.

Like other vehicles in its niche, the Varta is the sum of dual use parts. It has a two-axle “specialized chassis” with a central tire inflation system. As an all-terrain truck it employs an eight-gear manual transmission system and a six cylinder turbo diesel engine producing 300 horsepower. The manufacturer’s wording is vague, i.e. “depending on the engine chosen,” but it’s most likely sourced from Cummins, which specializes in diesel power plants for military trucks.

The past three years of losses to the Ukrainian army’s vehicle fleet is why the Varta’s protective features are emphasized the most. The truck body is assembled from “Swedish armor…[that] can withstand a direct hit from armor piercing 7.62 ammo.” The manufacturer promises bulletproof windows of the same toughness. But neither claim reveals the Varta’s armor level. The best guess, going by other MRAPs, is STANAG II.

A lot of vehicle manufacturers today promoting their “modular” options for customers, hence an upgrade kit that improves the Varta’s chances against shaped warheads is probably available from Ukrainian Armor.

To better protect its crew and passengers, who enter via the cab, which is patterned after an SUV, and a rear swing door–all using reinforced hinges made by Trimark Corporation–the  Varta offers wall mounted anti-mine seats that help passengers survive powerful shock waves. Of course, the Varta isn’t a true MRAP without a requisite V-shaped hull. Three roof hatches, including a large circular one for the main armament, give the Varta’s passengers enough space to either exit the vehicle or discharge their weapons during combat. Whether or not alternative weapon options for its main roof hatch are offered isn’t mentioned. Should they prefer to fight from inside the vehicle, each of the Varta’s 10 windows have a small circular firing port underneath.

The Varta comes with a built-in filtration system, temperature controls. and a “high speed fire suppression system” that detects conflagrations from secondary blasts in the vehicle’s interior.

The ongoing conflict in Ukraine is a boon for the armored car business. It doesn’t help that the army’s battered collection of Soviet APCs have fared poorly against “separatist” missiles and RPGs. But the odds are stacked against the Varta. Not only is Kiev struggling with its annual defense budget, but local manufacturers can’t seem to graduate beyond low rate production of any hardware.

This somewhat explains why, after the Varta debuted in 2016, its customers have yet to materialize. But its prospects could improve if it manages to distinguish itself as a fighting army’s workhorse.

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