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Armored Cars: VPK Ural

May 7, 2020

Via MIC.

In 2019 the manufacturer best known for the BTR-series of wheeled APCs displayed its latest trucks at an annual military exhibition outside Moscow. One of them was a 15 ton MRAP simply called the Ural. The entity known as MIC/VPK enjoyed enormous success with the Tigr that has become the main tactical 4×4 of the Russian armed forces. But the company’s initial attempts at mine-resistant 4×4’s such as the “Medved” and the “Volk” didn’t live up to expectations. The Ural is now being positioned as a better alternative to the other armored trucks developed in Russia since the 2010s.

With its enormous domestic security apparatus and border guards who must keep the peace in volatile regions like the Caucasus the Russian Federation is a huge market for all types of protected mobility. This explains why the Patrol, a joint venture between two well-known automotive companies, was quickly embraced by the National Guard or Rosgvardia. But since Russian development of mine-resistant trucks trailed the West the armed forces never adopted its preferred models except for the Kamaz Typhoon 53949 in small quantities.

The lessons learned from Syria, where thousands of military police and special forces served, drove home the need for an MRAP ready for mass-production. The MIC/VPK’s Ural looks tailored to fulfill this need. It’s not supposed to be confused with the automotive company Ural that also manufactures the Typhoon-series of protected vehicles. Because of its newness taking stock of its performance characteristics isn’t as straightforward save for those shared by the manufacturer in promotional media. The vehicle grosses 14.5 tons and manages an additional 2.5 tons of cargo since its double cab layout fits 12 with four in the cab and eight at the back.

Ballistic resistance is claimed to vary from STANAG II and III, which suggests add-on armor panels are available for this vehicle, making it invulnerable against Kalashnikov-pattern rifles. Of course, the MIC/VPK Ural is built to withstand STANAG 2a and 2b level explosions as well. To ensure the survivability of its passengers seats are hanging from the roof for mitigating harmful shock waves caused by roadside bombs. Promotional media did reveal other protective features such as external cameras for watching the truck’s vicinity as it travels in high risk areas.

Combat optimization for the MIC/VPK Ural is speculative although a light machine gun or a grenade launcher on a ring turret is expected. The MIC/VPK’s size allows it to support armaments as large as a 30mm cannon or a self-propelled mortar. On the extreme end the passenger compartment’s dimensions means installing anti-tank missile or SAM launchers like on the Kamaz Typhoon is possible. Non-lethal accessories such as smoke grenade dischargers and thermal sights are available too. A curious detail about the MIC/VPK Ural is its leaf spring suspension on the chassis rather than fully independent 4×4 suspension that’s common among vehicles of its class. An advantage of leaf spring suspension is cost and longevity since it’s easier to replace with common truck parts used by the Russian armed forces.

When it comes to mobility the MIC/VPK Ural runs on a Russian-made engine whose 360 horsepower output allows a top speed reaching 100 kilometers per hour and a range of 1,000 km. For now the vehicle uses six-speed automatic transmission but switching to five-speed manual transmission is optional. The MIC/VPK Ural’s adoption by the Russian military improves export prospects to countries that can’t acquire MRAPs originating from the US or other NATO members. Russia being the world’s leading manufacturer of armored vehicles means MIC/VPK is able to maintain a long-term production line for this model. In fact, demand from the CIS and MENA region for a Russian-made MRAP could be significant.

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