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Armored Cars: Minotor Service Vitim

March 26, 2019

Via Minotor Service.

This decade has seen the blossoming of remarkable military technology in the former Eastern Bloc. Recent domestic projects in Belarus fit this trend and one unexpected addition to its arms exports catalog is the Vitim, which is best described as a protected light utility truck. Rather than an MRAP for surviving big explosions, the manufacturer Minotor Service developed a vehicle for a startling variety of roles. It does seem overstretched when the product literature claims the Vitim is suited for assault and convoy protection plus whatever else a commander has in mind. Yet its traits are indeed good enough to rank it a peer of the successful Tigr from Russia.

The Vitim’s appearance is as boring as one can expect from an armored jeep. But performance-wise, it looks like a serious contender with ballistic protection strong enough against AK-47/AKM rounds and, according to the manufacturer, the hull withstands grenade blasts and up to 0.5 kg of high explosive. If this isn’t impressive, the Vitim drives in any conceivable climate, from deadly subzero chill to molten desert heat. Its mobility doesn’t fall behind its neighborhood rivals, with a 215 horsepower diesel engine giving it a 125 kilometer per hour top speed. Pushing the limits of hype now, the manufacturer classifies the Vitim as amphibious with a fording speed of 5 km/h. This is possible with a small propeller below the rear swing door.

Judging by its characteristics, the Vitim sells itself as a cost-effective multirole asset for either rear echelon forces or border guards who need an alternative to a Toyota Land Cruiser. But since being unveiled in 2016 little effort has been put to emphasize whatever else the Vitim can do. Besides, its fiercest competitor is another armored truck from Belarus. It isn’t hard to imagine the Vitim equipped for missions other than driving an officer (and maybe five companions) from point A to point B. A protective cupola on the roof for a single light machine gun is the easiest armament to install.

If Minotor Service really tried however, the Vitim has room to fit a retractable launcher for locally made Shershen anti-tank missiles. Once armed with as many as eight ATGMs, the Vitim turns into a force multiplier when deployed for territorial defense. Or, if the interior ministry is using it, detection and surveillance equipment such as an oscillating gimbal with a high definition thermal camera makes the Vitim a great patrol car. Should a BTR-70/80 leave much to be desired for a particular mission, then perhaps the Vitim equipped with a 12.7mm heavy machine gun–maybe a remote controlled KPV–is a better fit for intense firefights.

A 6×6 variant of the Vitim, configured as a supply truck, does lend itself well to serving as an ad hoc combat vehicle. With a bed meant to haul payloads reaching 3.5 tons, an automatic mortar or a ZSU-23-2 anti-aircraft gun would fit nicely in the same space. The consensus so far is the Vitim can do its fair share of dangerous work on the battlefield. But selling it anywhere still needs a lot of marketing push.

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