In a strong-commodity, weak-dollar/Euro world, Russia has the finances it need to replenish its badly depleted military. What it doesn’t have yet is the industrial and engineering capacity, which was lost during the state’s budgetary collapse. The Russians have been paying close attention to global trends, as evidenced by their interest in amphibious assault ships. It’s certainly hard to ignore the big global shift toward blast-resistant vehicles, especially in a state already plagued by various insurgencies within and near its borders.
In 2010, media reports began to surface that Russia was negotiating with Italy’s Iveco, with the aim of buying and license manufacturing the firm’s LMV/MLV/Lince blast resistant vehicles. Russia has little experience in this area, but rather than go with a partnership involving South African players, they targeted the higher-cost end of the global MRAP (Mine Resistant, Ambush Protected wheeled vehicle) market. Iveco’s M65 Lince has received praise for its performance in Afghanistan, while receiving orders from Italy, Austria, Belgium, Britain, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Norway, Slovakia, and Spain. At over 350 ordered vehicles, Russia’s “Rys” fleet is already one of the firm’s largest contracts – with the potential to become Iveco’s largest customer by far.