Ukrainian armored personnel carrier BTR-4 – a headache for Russian “defence industry employees”

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As Voennyi informator has previously stated, on the 25th of May 2017, a state concern Ukroboronprom held demonstration tests of modernized BTR-4 on the military training area near Kharkiv. Engineers of the State Enterprise Kharkiv Morozov Machine Building Design Bureau showed the improvements made in the vehicle and persuaded that a BTR had become more safe for the crew and more effective in the field.

It bears reminding that shortly before the event, Russia had been directing a marginal smear campaign aimed at discreditation of Ukrainian BTR-4 on the international armaments markets by manipulation of information concerning fulfilment of contracts for the export of BTR to Iraq in 2011-2013.

Previously submitted article “The North barriers to Ukrainian BTR-4” to the website Voennyiy informator, which relates to the aims, reasons and abovementioned actions of Russian side, has attracted considerable interest of readership, as well as an angry response by Russian people.

Taking into account a public outcry with regard to this issue, the Ukroboronprom press-service issued a press-release, which analyzed the working methods of Kremlin’s propaganda machine against Ukrainian defense industry.

As the Ukroboronprom press-service, the 20th of May, an online publication Zerkalo Nedeli published a part of the publication of columnist, known under the alias “Dmitriy Mendeleev”. In a short news piece entitled “Out of 88 Ukrainian BTR-4 delivered to Iraq, only 56 cars were able to be cranked up”, only just fussy reader may have noticed, that it is the matter of verification, which took place in 2014. But what the contract was signed in 2009 and as for 2014 was being executed, despite Russia’s resistance, the editors of Zerkalo Nedeli, for some reason, didn’t specify it. It was also not specified, that in 2014 the fighting vehicles, that were already in operation and even took part in combat operations against terrorist groups might be tested.

It was noted in the article of press centre, that Ukrainian BTR-4 have repeatedly proven to be lifelines on the battlefield in Iraq and continue to fight against ISIS successfully to this very day. For instance, while the main tank was destroyed by antitank guided missile, the BTR made direct hit through during the terrorist’s offense.

The Russian mass media picked a publication of Zerkalo Nedeli up and massively released the same type of news about Ukrainian BTR-4 the next day. Top Russian propaganda speakers (TASS, Vesti, Russia Today) “exploded” with the same news, referring to the Ukrainian publication. Aftermath, this news was spread by Ukrainian pro-Russian media.

It should be noted that for the last three months, the similar campaigns have been conducted within the information space and they related to, almost, all priority markets for BTR-4, primarily Indonesia and Thailand (focus.ua).

In turn, as the Director of the Spetstehnoeksport P. Barbul said, in Indonesia, the multipurpose Marines Battalion has already started operation of five Ukrainian BTR-4M that were delivered by SFTE Spectechnoexport in January 2017.

On the other hand, with regard to Thailand, Russian “political games” go in two directions – this is not only to prevent BTR-4E from entering the market of this country, but also try to discredit the existing contract for the supply of Oplots in order to sow doubts into other possible buyers of these Ukrainian tanks.

Nevertheless, even here, despite the efforts made in this direction, Russians have nothing to rejoice at. According to the Ukroboronprom, Thailand has done a standardization of various types of equipment, including BTR-4E, in order to provide various units of its army with this vehicle. Now the negotiation process on the purchase of BTR-4E by the Royal Thai Army is continuing. The corresponding decision will be done in a year. (ukroboron.com.ua)

Despite the statements of Russian media that Thailand have refused from Ukrainian tanks, another series of Oplot tanks, produced at the Kharkov state enterprise Malyshev Plant, will be sent to Thailand in the near future. According to Ukrinform statement, that was a claim of the chief engineer of the enterprise  A. Sheiko at the briefing (ukrinform.ru)

Why is it so?

Probably, to answer this question, it may be useful to refer to the opinion of Russian experts on BTR-4E dated until 2014, when not all the Russian information space was ran through propaganda. We propose to read extracts from the publication of the Russian expert M. Baryatinskiy “Ukrainian armored personnel carrier BTR-4 – a blow to the domestic “defense industry employees” ego, which was published in 2012 on the website Voennoe obozrenie.

According to M. Baryatinskiy, the majority of enterprises of the Soviet defense industry complex fell to the Russia’s share, after the collapse of the USSR. The second most important military-industrial potential was Ukrainian. Since then, Ukrainian progresses in the world arms market are extremely painful for the Russian Federation.

In particular, he notes that: “The pride of the Russian “defense industry” was extremely wounded by the prospect of international contracts for the supply of the wheeled armored personnel carrier BTR-4, created in Kharkiv in the early 2000s, offered for export under the resonant name of Butsefal. Moreover, all the caustic comments of the Russian side, concerning the successes of the Ukrainian weapons, were brought to one thing: nothing new can be done by the “defense industry employees” of the neighboring country. They are still selling Soviet-era equipment.”

  1. Baryatinskiy also quotes an example of a standard Russian “expert” opus in his article: “Although BTR-4 represents a rather serious advancement towards the modern concept of the wheeled armored personnel carrier, in comparison with the family of BTR-80, however, BTR-4 is clearly inferior to the most operative Western models. BTR-4 is overburdened by a number of frankly obsolete or unsuccessful technical solutions (the “cockpit-like” hull front section, borrowed from the BTR Fuchs of the 70s, a large front overhand), has insufficient security and, in particular, mine protection that is completely inadequate to modern requirements”.

Late in his article M. Baryatinskiy summarizes experts preoccupied with BTR-4 advances (despite hysteria) on the world market of armaments instead of spattering possessed with great power chauvinism, should fall into muse why the fighting vehicle corresponding NATO standards (mark of quality in today`s world), appeared in Ukraine prior to Russia? What`s the matter? Apparently, that is because of Ukrainian lack of oil and gas, and that have to weasel way out, devise and invent something. Ukrainian colleagues have no megalomania, preventing the invention of crucially new armament samples. BTR-4 is not, for sure, a pluperfection, the vehicle has a lot of disadvantage weaknesses. However, the aforementioned conformity to NATO standards, price/quality correlation is a key factor in the vehicle evaluation, which the Western samples do not display.

As we can see, at the end of 5 years term, Russian engineers have not laid to heart any Baryatinskiy advices and in spite of creating something crucially innovative, continue to drive hard Soviet groundworks, which are being kicked to the history not only technically, but also morally.

Vice prime minister D. Rogozin realizes that and on 20 May 2017 told about a new Russian armament program, foreseeing shift from old fashioned samples modernization. “It should be mentioned that modernization is a usual phenomenon in line with new models creation. However, modernization should not be alone. Otherwise, that prevents the establishment of new armament programs”, – D. Rogozin stated for Vesti. Moreover, he mentioned that the new program is to be innovative one, the main emphasis will be made on the intellectual armament and automatic control system creation.

However, taking into consideration previous statements by Rogozin on the successful realization of import substitution program for the Russian defense industry, which, in fact, was completely failed, the new innovative program is likely to be much the same.

The NEWSADER informs that Russian defense industry has tragically come to harm by virtue of military and trade embargo, being a part of comprehensive economic sanctions, imposed by West and its allies (including Kyiv) as a response to Russian aggression against Ukraine. It comes from the extensional analysis by Radio Svoboda author V. Voronov. Due to his information, notorious import substitution plan, initiated by Kremlin one and a half year before, facing complete prohibition on Russia military and dual role production  supply,  appeared to fail and be totally inexecutable.

Even according to Russian military experts recognition, Russia, opposing civilized world is facing inexecutable task on the transition from XX century military production to XXI one. It will take more than 5 years as Russian engineers say.

It should be emphasized that new “miry business” information campaigns by Russia will take place and we have to be ready. It is a commonplace for Moscow and its mass media to state that Ukrainian defense industry is a bankrupt one and about mythical supplies of armament by the latter to States and terror organizations, which are under United Nations Security Council sanctions. The purpose of such imputations is to discredit Ukraine, as much as practical, which is a serious actor on the world market of armaments, as Russia and Ukraine are direct competitors in the amount of armament categories.

Alex Shulga


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