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.
Contracts & Key Events
Russia’s plans involve up to 1,755 blast-resistant patrol vehicles. So far, they have ordered 358 Russian-assembled “Rys” models of Iveco’s M65 LMV vehicles.
Jan 23/13: Rys and Fall? Russian Ground Forces commander Vladimir Chirkin says that the Russian Defense Ministry’s Rys buys will end when current contracts end. He says that “we will not buy any more…. We have the Medved, Tigr and Volk [vehicles]”.
That probably isn’t a good sign for Iveco, especially amidst what appears to be a sharp nativist turn in Russia’s ministry. Time will tell how all of this shakes out. Beyond the Lince, Iveco’s 8×8 wheeled Centauro tank destroyer and assault gun was also being investigated for joint production with Russia. RIA Novosti.
Jan 21/13: Renewed battle. Russia’s Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, and his arms procurement chief Alexander Sukhorukov, had both championed the Lince/Rys over the Tigr. Both were dismissed over corruption scandals, but existing orders for the LMV Rys seems to have survived. New Deputy Defense Minister Yury Borisov says that Russia currently has 358 Rys vehicles on order, with no intention of scrapping this contract. The first 57 vehicles have reportedly been assembled in Vorozneh, but the remaining vehicles will be assembled beginning in 2013 at a new KAMAZ plant in Tatarstan. The new vehicles are expected to reach Russia’s goal of 50% local content.
After that, things get dicey.
New Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu wants renewed tests of the Rys against an improved Tigr-M with local engines and improved armor, before Russia places any follow-on orders. Since that follow-on could involve over 1,400 vehicles under the Defense Ministry’s medium-term plan, all parties are going to be taking those tests very seriously. RIA Novosti.
May 15/12: May Day. Russian Ivecos LMVs take part in the massive annual military parade through Moscow’s Red Square, celebrating the 67th anniversary of Russia’s victory in the Second World War. Al-Defaiya.
Jan 25/12: +60. Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Sukhorukov says that Russia signed a December 2011 deal with Italy. They’ll assemble 60 semi-knocked down Lynx LMVs, at a joint enterprise in Russian city of Voronezh. By way of explanation, he says that “they displayed better characteristics than the vehicles we are currently using.”
Word is that the Lince’s protection was better, while the cheaper Gaz-2330 Tigr has better road clearance and off-road mobility. Mobility can be quite important in Russia, where poor roads and deep snows are frequent obstacles. On the other hand, the intensity of local insurgencies makes high protection levels important.
The deal comes in for later criticism over its failure to include key items like post-assembly servicing, the supply of spare parts, and training of Russian forces. Army Recognition.
Dec 3/10: JV. The 50-50 joint venture between Iveco and Russian state holding Rostekhnologii is announced at an Italo-Russian government summit. The process will begin with Italy handing over 10 vehicles to Russia for testing. The lack of a long-term state contract certainly creates risks around reverse-engineering and fostering a future competitor, something the Russians themselves have experienced repeatedly with China. Italy is hoping that this doesn’t happen, and as part of the agreement, joint venture sales would reportedly be restricted to the Russian Federation.
Iveco’s vehicles use a multi-faceted approach to blast resistance, which helps to keep their center of gravity low. They’re a high end MRAP option, but a very popular one, with past orders from Italy, Austria, Belgium, Britain, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Norway, Slovakia, and Spain. Defense News | RIA Novosti.
Oct 26/10: Confirmed. RIA Novosti quotes Russian first deputy Russian defense minister is quoted at Euronaval 2010, saying that Russia will begin assembling Iveco armored patrol vehicles in Russia:
“Production of the first vehicles is to begin next year. The first vehicle will be manufactured at the end of …. The use of Russian components is to exceed 50% with time”
Aug 6/10: Deal? Russia’s Kommersant paper reports that the Russian Defense Ministry is going to set up a joint assembly line with Italy’s Iveco to produce almost 1,500 LMV M65 Lince tactical vehicles in Russia. The vehicles are reportedly designated for the Russian Interior Ministry and the Federal Security Service.
Rostekhnologii (formerly Rosoboronexport) is currently holding talks with Iveco, leaving existing vehicle provider Russkie Mashiny and their Gaz-233014 Tigr vehicles out in the cold for this order. Tigrs have been used in the Northern Caucasus, and during the brief war with Georgia in August 2008.
The English translation isn’t as clear as it could be, but the RUB 30 billion (about $1 billion) program apparently envisions 1,775 vehicles: 278 vehicles in 2011, another 278 in 2012, then 458 in 2013, another 458 in 2014, 228 in 2015 and the last 75 in 2016. Rostekhnologii has reportedly pledged that the maximum average price will be just EUR 300,000, which would be less than the vehicle’s historical averages based on past contracts. Then again, this order’s size is far beyond any past contract for these vehicles. RIA Novosti.
June 15/10: At Eurosatory 2010, Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister for Arms Procurements Vladimir Popovkin is quoted as saying that:
“The decision on the purchase of light armor or its production technology [abroad] has not been made yet. Our research centers have not given us an answer as to whether they are ready and capable of producing this type of armor. If they are, we will make our own armor, but if they are not, we will find ways to acquire Western technology for production in Russia…”
That’s s step forward from the ministry’s complete dismissals of mid-March reorts, which said that Russia was looking to buy up to 1,000 Iveco M65 Lince patrol vehicles. Russia has apparently purchased 2 Linces for testing, and a source at the KamAZ automaker confirmed to RIA Novosti that local assembly talks were centered around the Naberezhnye Chelny plant. RIA Novosti.
* Army Technology – IVECO Light Multirole Vehicle, Italy
* Army Recognition – SPM-3 MEDVED Bear special police armoured vehicle. BEAR = Ballistic Enhanced ARmor.
* Army Recognition – Tigr GAZ-2330 light armored vehicle personnel carrier
* Army Technology – VPK-3927 Volk Multipurpose Armoured Vehicle, Russian Federation