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Armored Cars: Astais-Kamaz Patrol

May 19, 2018

Russian security forces have a new MRAP tailored for urban combat. During this year’s Victory Day parade in Red Square a column of RosGvardiya or National Guard participated aboard their 4×4 and 6×6 Patrols. The Patrol is a mine-resistant troop carrier assembled by the company Astais using a Kamaz chassis.

The Patrol’s appearance subscribes to a familiar layout and it can be mistaken for a different vehicle used by the Russian military. But the Patrol-A (4×4) and Patrol SN (6×6) are new models that were first revealed in 2016. The Patrol-A in particular is recognizable for having symmetrical steps on either side of the cab.

Both Astais and Russian media haven’t revealed the Patrol’s full specifications yet. Even its armor level is a mystery although most MRAPs can survive being under fire from automatic weapons. What is known is the vehicle can seat 10 passengers, with seats for seven in the troop compartment. There are two roof hatches above the cab for the driver and co-driver and four more hatches for the passengers, who enter through the back via two swing doors. The Patrol-A is unique for having one extra side door for better accessibility.

Astais insist both the Patrol-A and Patrol-SN can support a turret on the roof for a defensive armament. There are circular firing ports on each of the small windows at the back of the vehicle so its passengers can fight without dismounting.

The Patrol-A and SN aren’t meant for the Russian army or any other branch. Its use is reserved for the National Guard, a new institution created by President Vladimir Putin in 2016 as a domestic counter-terrorism force with a total strength of 350,000 men and women. Its leader, in fact, is Putin’s head of security–one Viktor Zolotov. The National Guard have a separate leadership structure from the FSB and the interior ministry and speculation is rife it may end up being deployed abroad in the near future.

The creation of the National Guard came as a total surprise amid the ongoing reforms transforming Russia’s powerful armed forces. Some writers interpret its role as a bulwark for Putin’s authority to mitigate the risked posed by uprisings in Moscow or elsewhere. If the police can’t suppress these events then the National Guard arrives to restore order. But the National Guard’s mandate is broader than suspected and regional governors are even allowed to deploy them should the need arise.

Given its present role, it isn’t surprising the National Guard have their own MRAPs, which are better for traveling along city streets and rural areas than unprotected BTRs that can be destroyed by improvised bombs. This could mean Astais rolls out thousands of Patrol A and SN’s in the coming years.

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