Skip to content

Armored Cars: SDPR BOV M11

July 26, 2019

Via Wikimedia Commons.

It’s easy to confuse the M11 with the Textron M1117 since they look alike–at first glance, that is. But it turns out the M11 has a storied lineage of its own. Since it was first revealed at an arms show in 2013, the M11 has guaranteed the continuity of the distinguished BOV armored car; a true relic of the Yugoslav armed forces. During the cruel wars that engulfed the Balkans in the 1990s, the BOV and its variants saw constant use among the belligerents.

The M11 aspires to modest goals, however, and was meant as a reconnaissance vehicle foremost.

The original BOV had shady origins and there isn’t a genuine consensus on when it entered service. Black and white images do exist showing it equipped as a tank destroyer, with a half dozen Sagger missiles on its turret, and a mobile anti-aircraft gun with either tandem 20mm or 30mm cannon. The BOV had its limitations, foremost being thin armor and poor ergonomics for the crew. A fascinating subtext to the decline of Yugoslavia was a deep collaboration with France’s military industry that resulted in NATO weapons and ammunition being manufactured in an Eastern Bloc state. Readers should know it isn’t a coincidence how a Croatian gunmaker has a bullpup rifle similar to the FAMAS. Indeed, to this day Serbia is unique for the technological breadth of its own military industrial sector.

So does this mean the BOV was originally a foreign design acquired by a Yugoslav company? Nobody knows for sure.

Unlike its ancestor, the current M11 eschews a fully enclosed hull for an enlarged cab with a two-panel bulletproof windshield. Separate steel plates can be lowered over each panel as a protective measure. There are small triangular ports on the corners of the driving compartment for added visibility and situational awareness. The M11 pictured above is equipped for urban operations and counter-insurgency, with its small side windows paired with gun ports and an additional layer of applique armor covering the hull. This raises the vehicle’s protection level to STANAG III, making it able to withstand machine gun fire.

The M11’s combat optimization is so far limited to a single 12.7 mm primary weapon. Whether or not it soon mounts other armaments remains to be seen. But similarities to other 4×4 APC’s suggests it has room for changes given enough time and creative engineering. Wonderful examples of a proven vehicle’s constant evolution abound. Recall how the more than 50-year-old Cadillac Cage V-150, the ancestor of the current M1117, was adapted to so many roles beyond its original mission as an escort vehicle for convoys.

When it comes to mobility, the M11 runs on a 190 horsepower engine located at the back. Besides the driver and their partner, the eight dismounts who fit inside the hull enter from large side doors. The M11 doesn’t have propellers but it should be able to ford bodies of water at least three feet deep. To date, the reputation of the M11 remains meager and only two developing countries have ordered the vehicle. The M11’s greatest selling point is being an alternative to aging Soviet BRDM scout cars and BTR-series APCs, likewise obsolescent British and French armored cars. Defense ministries looking for a robust 4×4 whose sale isn’t constrained by US or EU export controls should consider the M11.

Comments are closed.