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Ukrainian BTR-4: instead of Iraq at the line of fire in Ukraine

18 July 2014, 16:32
Recently, the majority of journalists, both foreign and Ukrainian, who had the opportunity to visit the area of the antiterrorist operation in eastern Ukraine, constantly hear positive feedback on the new Ukrainian BTR-4. These combat vehicles entered the armament of the security forces of Ukraine just in April this year, but already managed to manifest their best side.
What kind of vehicles are these and where did they come from, why they were not in the Ukrainian army before? As Ukrainian military say: "There was a blessing in disguise."
It turns out that these are the BTR-4 of the "Iraq contract" around which a serious scandal broke out last year.
Lets recall the contract for the supply to Iraq of 450 BTR-4 - the deal was described as the largest in the history of independent Ukraine, concluded in 2009 it had some problems at every stage of implementation. But at the final stage the production of the equipment did without emergency rush and the BTR were brought to such a condition that the customer began to accept them without complaints.
But bad news for Ukrainians came from the other side – having loaded another batch of armored vehicles at the end of March 2013 in Odessa, the ship SE Pacifica came to the destination port of Umm Qasr in April, but the Iraqi side suddenly refused to unload the vehicles.
First in the Russian media, and then on other sites the topic of SE Pacifica drift was stuffed with nonexistent details. This primarily refers to the messages that the customer refused to accept the BTR because of "the cracks in the corps, smeared with paint." In fact, a party of armor was accepted in February on the territory of Ukraine. The Iraqi side inspected the vehicles, signed all the relevant acts of acceptance, then the armored personnel carriers were transported to the port, prepared for transport, customs and loaded onto the ship. The Iraqis had no complaints about the quality of Ukrainian products.
Then, what has changed over the period spent in the way? At the moment, it is already known that the refusal of Iraqi officials to take the party of BTR-4 was dictated by a competitive factor and respectively corruption interest of some Iraqi officials behind which there was Russia. It is noteworthy that after another reminder about the misadventures of the SE Pacifica appeared information about the termination of the contract as a whole. Not by chance, the Russian media with reference to the informed sources had time to boast that Iraqi delegation arrived in Nizhny Tagil and negotiates about the purchase BTR-82A. However, it seems that desirable was then issued for valid – there were no Iraqis and no negotiations in Tagil. But the Russians had fears that the Ukrainian rival will have time to completely block the market with its newest product.
During Putin's presidency, having an increasing funding and defense orders, the Russian defense industry up to recent time has been supplying its own Soviet army hit - BTR-80, till the Defense Ministry of Russia with scandal didn't refuse purchases. BTR-82, BTR-90 and their modifications - are the same as the BTR-80, but with power arms.
New promising Russian platform - BTR "Boomerang" – is just being developed and in case of adoption to the armament will be launched to the series only in few years. So the Russians were extremely interested in the disruption of the "Iraq contract" to get the necessary odds for alignment of competitive chances for their products. Otherwise, in two or three years, the market would be fully captured by the Ukrainians.
At that time, unpleasant events also occur in Iraq, the militants of the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" occupy city by city almost every day and come close to Baghdad, and the 42 "rejected" Iraqis BTR-4 show their effectiveness in eastern Ukraine in the battles against Russian fighters .
Yes, some Iraqi officials because of their greed and love of "Russian money" deprived their army almost of the entire mobile brigade on modern BTR-4, which could now be very useful to fight the Islamists.
Time will show, and it is likely that the Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki will sort out who has framed the Iraqi army, and how Russia has served the Baghdad "disservice” once again. But now the Iraqi troops move on antediluvian trucks without adequate fire support...
But now get back to the Ukrainian events and the participation of BTR-4 in them.
The anti-terrorist operation in the south-eastern regions of Ukraine continues. In mid-April it was announced that the newly formed division of the National Guard received the latest Ukrainian BTR-4. The vehicles arrived directly to the front from the port "October", where they have been returned in January this year after the "unfortunate trip" to Iraq.
A few weeks after the appearance of such messages the new technology of this type took part in the fighting for the first time.
In late May and early June the photos of the Ukrainian armored vehicles under fire, were published. It was reported that in late May BTR-4 as a part of a convoy got in the ambush of pro-Russian terrorists. It was also reported that aiming fire was conducted from both sides of the road. After such attack the vehicle only needed minor repairs and replacement of some damaged parts.
A few days later photos of two other armored troop-carriers of BTR-4 which were taking part in fight near Slavyansk were published on June 3. The photos were accompanied by commentaries, according to which the vehicles underwent an intense attack from small arms and were also attacked with hand-held antitank grenade launchers.
Despite many injuries, both armored vehicles were able not only to save the lives of the militaries and cause substantial losses to terrorists, but also return to the places of their own bases, giving journalists the opportunity to make and publish photos of vehicles, which participated in the fighting.
The current anti-terrorist operation on the territory of Ukraine is actually the first major armed conflict involving the newest Ukrainian BTR-4 and their modifications.
Arms procurement worldwide consists in that the real prospects of sales have serial standards only. Thus exactly the ones that are exploited by the armed forces. At the time, the BTR-4 became an exception. The technique interested buyers, despite the fact that it was not in the Ukrainian army.
But now after the BTR-4’s appearance on armament in power subdivisions of Ukraine, as well as the effective participation of these machines in actual combat, and the baptism of fire, these BTR are transferred into the category of mass and completely run-machines.
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