MOSCOW --- The Boomerang armored personnel carriers (APC) have concluded the Victory Parade on Red Square since 2015. Together with the newest T-14 MBT and T-15 heavy infantry fighting vehicle based on the Armata heavy unified tracked platform, they have to become the main strike force of Russia’s Land Forces.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defense continues to re-equip motorized infantry units with the previous generation BTR-82A APCs. In an interview with the daily Izvestia, Alexander Krasovitsky, CEO of the Military Industrial Company (VPK), told about the current status of Boomerang’s testing and why the BTR-82A is so interesting to the military.
"The Boomerang has incorporated breakthrough feats of engineering. They are comparable to space technology in terms of technical perfection. For example, it has protection of the upper hemisphere. The vehicle can be controlled remotely, that is, it is practically a robot. It is fitted with such effective defense systems against precision-guided weapons that it is just unkillable," said Krasovitsky.
Within the Boomerang project, VPK drags the entire industry forward. A new engine was developed for this vehicle. Its manufacturer, the Yaroslavl Engine Plant, conducted out a real industrial revolution. There have been no such engines in Russia before. A new control system and a transfer case were designed. To this end, engineering competencies were developed, the entire production cycle was modernized, and new test benches appeared.
As for the BTR-82A, the developers also did not stand still. About 1,500 changes were made to the design of the vehicle aimed at improving its performance characteristics. But the main thing is that the vehicle has retained its advantage in cross-country ability and reliability.
The firepower of its gun or machine gun needs no advertising: its 30mm cannon can engage air targets at a sufficient distance, while a 30-50-cm-thick brick wall is like paper for it.
The Boomerang and BTR-82A are the vehicles of different classes. They were devised for different tasks and occupy different niches. The BTR-82A is a reliable vehicle, but it will not be able to carry out a package of missions that will be performed by the Boomerang, because it has different functionality and different performance. The BTR-82A can handle certain local tasks. With the Boomerang, the range of tasks increases and the niche expands. Therefore, our customers are the same: the Ministry of Defense, National Guard of Russia, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs. VPK demonstrates the concept: it is a new chassis, a new ground clearance, a new height, new armor, and new armament.
Unlike the BTR-82A, far more automatic weapon stations can be installed on the Boomerang. And they can be changed. "You want a 30mm cannon - certainly, you want 57mm or 100mm gun, ATGM - certainly. It's like a constructor's kit. There is a completely new and more protected base model. You can build over what you like. The front engine location and a rear ramp are ergonomic: It's convenient to board and dismount, but everything has pros and cons," Krasovitsky said.
Today, the developers understand the demands of the Russian military and know what will be in the State Armament Program for 2018-2025. VPK representatives were in Baltiysk at the Marine Corps’ Baltic Derby competitions where they asked the Defense Ministry representatives what they did not like. The military is interested in a higher maximum speed of the vehicle, as well as in over-the-horizon landing 60 km away. "We are told that we need to increase the size of the crew, we need a convenient organoleptic seating arrangement - no problem! We have done it too. The Boomerang today has accommodated all customer wishes,” the CEO of VPK explained.
Krasovitsky does not fear that interest in the BTR-82A will fall. It is a reliable, cheap and well-known combat vehicle. Today, too, there are many orders for it from the former Soviet republics. Similar foreign products are 60-70% more expensive than the Russian ones. The current BTR-82A both swims and fires. The developers have been modifying it a lot recently. VPK was tasked by the Ministry of Defense to modify the BTR-82A according to a list of 80 improvement points following its operation in various climatic conditions. For example, when the vehicle swims, the visibility is limited at a high wave. Developers are increasing the length of the periscope and making the shield, which protects from the wave, larger. And there are many such directions. But reliability is the most important thing.
The BTR-82A has a lot of competitors. "But I can say with confidence that the same Chinese counterpart is not a patch on it, the Ukrainians are trying to engage in predatory pricing, but they have quality problems. There are no direct rivals, but we cannot stand still. That is why the BTR-82A is today the basic and most in-demand combat vehicle. The Boomerang is a technological breakthrough, a completely new vehicle. Perhaps, their number will be smaller compared with the BTR-82A. But the combat capabilities rather than quantity matter," said Krasovitsky.
The range of applications for both the BTR-82A and the Boomerang is very wide. There is enough space for all the vehicles. One vehicle complements rather than replaces another. VPK has no fear that Boomerang will not be in demand. The enterprise today already receives orders from foreigners, but the vehicle is secret. The company has no right not only to negotiate with respect to the price, but also cannot even show the specifications. When the security classification is lifted, VPK jointly with Rosoboronexport will sell this vehicle, too.
Krasovitsky does not see the American Striker and the Finnish Patria as competitors. In his opinion, the technical solutions incorporated in Boomerang are more interesting, modern and cheaper.
Currently, the Boomerang tests are heading into the homestretch. "It's flattering that our vehicle concluded the Victory Parade, but it's a new vehicle, and we continue to work on its armor, weight, ergonomics, and armament. Therefore, we would not like to say what it will be like in the final configuration. Now we are testing 12 cars: we are driving, firing, burning, and freezing them. Work is underway on the use of various types of armor," the CEO of VPK refined.
The laboratory tests alone of this vehicle number 250: freezers, explosions, shootings, rollovers. So, once the tests are completed, fielding will start immediately, Krasovitsky told the newspaper Izvestia.