The Russian company AO Remdizel (JSC) focuses on armoured vehicle engineering and manufacturing operations. The Russian Army has been operating the vehicles of the Typhoon, Tornado and Vystrel families for a long time. The company produces these vehicles in Naberezhnye Chelny. Igor Zarakhovich, the Chief Designer of AO Remdizel, interviewed by Ivan Surayev, the reporter of RIA Novosti, told about the latest modifications of the Typhoon vehicle, major product import substitution and export promotion issues, and about the future of the Russian armoured vehicle as well.
- Igor Mikhailovich, what new vehicles of the Typhoon family are developed by Remdizel today?
- We have the program of the К63968 6х6 Typhoon vehicle to implement; the vehicle has been army-accepted. Today, they are operated in different units including the Syrian military police. This vehicle has the biggest total mileage of the whole range. We haven’t had any plans for engineering any new modifications of it yet but I may say that communication operators are interested in it as it has a vast amount of internal armoured volume and high loading capacity. That means it is convenient to deploy staff communication systems on.
Another of our developments is the 4х4 К53949 vehicle. Today, this Typhoon vehicle is used in Syria and it gets feedbacks on operation upon the results of which we will be able to improve the vehicle. The main difference of the vehicle from its comparable developments by other enterprises is mine and ballistic protection. The principal task here is to save the crew’s life when undermining on an antitank mine or when being hit with armor-piercing rounds.
On its base, we are making two modifications, such as a mine exploder and an observation vehicle as well.
The same chassis was used for designing the Linza medical vehicle that has a two-seat cab (in comparison, the base modification has a 10-seat cab). It has a module for casualty transportation installed. We have “O1” letter for this vehicle. This year, we are making the batch that will be supplied to our armed forces.
It underwent the full testing cycle under the development contract and we are now waiting for its phasing-in. The Linza vehicle was made according to the specific request for proposal of the Russian Ministry of Defense that was worked out jointly with the Main Military Medical Directorate.
The next one of this family is the К4386 Typhoon-VDV vehicle. I hope it will have passed its official tests by the end of the year and then it will get “O1” letter.
The К 4386 Typhoon-VDV vehicle
- What are its characteristics besides being able to be air-dropped?
- First of all, it is the balance between curb weight and internal armored volume. The vehicle is frameless; it has a monocoque hull that is why it is lower in height than the other models of the К53949 vehicle. It has a better load-carrying capacity with smaller weight, and a low centre of mass, which provides the vehicle with good dynamics, stability and high terrain crossing capacity.
We have already developed many different modifications on its basis. The first one is ‘Nabrosok’ – an 82 mm self-propelled mortar that was presented at the Army 2019 forum.
In addition, we have designed ‘Zavet’ fire control vehicle for airborne artillery. It is to operate the ‘Nabrosok’ mortar. The work is now carried out by ‘Rubin’, Penza Research and Development enterprise. It is nearing its completion phase.
‘Kleshch’ mobile mine deploying device is another vehicle of the range, which is the most different from the base Typhoon vehicle. It has a two-seat cab; at the back, there is a load platform for transportation of containers with mines.
Upon the request of the Ministry of Defense, we began lowering the costs for Typhoon and we managed to reduce the vehicle’s cost by around 30% through some changes, namely, the replacement of the hydropneumatic suspension with the spring one, simplification of electronic systems, which we actually don’t always need. To operate a vehicle with advanced electronics, you should have a highly qualified specialist; it is impossible to develop such amount of human resources for all types of vehicles. On the base of this ‘simplified’ version, we have designed the vehicle for the 12th Main Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation that is responsible for nuclear engineering and security. The vehicle is intended for nuclear weapons convoy escort. This vehicle underwent factory tests and got letter ‘O’. Besides, on the base of this ‘simplified’ version, we designed a technical intelligence vehicle. We are now awaiting the start of state trials.
Apart from this, we designed the Typhoon-PVO vehicle based on this chassis jointly with Kupol company from Izhevsk. It was made specifically for participating in the competition of Army international games entitled ‘Clear Sky’ that was held in China. The vehicles were completed in record time - in four months.
It should be noted that the chassis of 4386 is the most ‘Russian’ vehicle of the family. We tried to apply in it as many Russian components as we could, and to find Russian companies which are able to develop the substitution for foreign systems.
- What systems do you still have to buy from abroad?
- There are some parts which have actually never been produced in Russia. For example, we tried to apply a part of an engine made in Naberzhnye Chelny on Typhoon but after it had been broken three times, we decided to use a foreign one again.
Being an integrator, we cannot work on small subsystems, i.e. spend a couple of years on development of a component, while we should work on the vehicle itself; it would be unreasonable. Every enterprise must focus on a specific activity. We focus on the engineering of a complete protected vehicle using available subsystems and components that we can make on our own.
Moreover, no one in Russia produces a range of systems for trucks that is why we have to use foreign-made components. The same applied to electronics.
There are some positive examples, too. We found a Russian supplier of hydropneumatic suspensions who agreed to design such system for K4386 that was previously bought from abroad. This system is not worse than the imported one and it is sometimes even more reliable.
Another direction of import substitution is collaboration with the suppliers who were previously foreign ones but then launched manufacturing in Russia. Despite all political complexities, some companies are ready to ensure adequate cooperation with us.
Before I conclude on the topic about the Typhoons, I would like to say that we are also considering creation of a civil version of this vehicle. The vehicle itself is manageable, in comparison with its analogues, it is like a light vehicle and is pleasant to drive.
The Typhoon К 53949 armoured vehicle
- What scope of application do you see for it?
- Considering it is an off-road vehicle, it may be used in difficult climatic adverse conditions, including the Arctic.
- What modifications of the Tornado family armoured vehicles are developed today?
- Today, there are four versions of this vehicle, two 6х6s and two 8х8s. On this chassis, we are now installing the Pantsir-SM rocket-gun complex that you could see at Army 2019.
- Are the Vystrel family vehicles still developed?
- It is a very old project. Among other armoured vehicles, this vehicle is not even Lada Kalina¹ but the so called ‘kopeyka’². It is completely made of Russian parts on the KAMAZ aggregates; it has quite a good protection level. Moreover, it is the cheapest armoured vehicle that we are working on at Remdizel.
We thought several times that this vehicle is old and nobody wants it, and yet it is ordered from time to time. Of course, there are some questions on its usability and serviceability: we considered its upgrading, making the Vystrel-2 vehicle entirely of Russian aggregates without using imported high-technology. However, it depends on funding and the capacity of the work of the design services.
- What innovative armoured vehicles do Remdizel’s specialists design today?
- We design new vehicles solely out of our creative interest using the labor consumption of our designers (laughter). We have many ideas but imagination should be stopped and put into practice at some point.
We’ve already created many vehicles that need development and improvement. We have very much to do with serial product support, its improvement, reliability growth, cost reduction, manufacturing and maintenance simplification and, of course, with import substitution.
If the Ministry of Defense is interested or we have the money and time to waste, we’d love to get one of our crazy schemes and start embodying it in metal.
- What will be the differences between these advanced vehicles and the other ones produced today?
- Here, it is necessary to take into consideration the function of the vehicle. When this concerns the vehicles we use for crew transportation, in my opinion, the most important performances for them will be their protection, reliability and terrain crossing capacity.
We should also enhance their operational characteristics: everyone knows it can be dirty and wet in spring in our country that is why a heavy vehicle can easily lose its maneuverability, so a new vehicle must clearly weigh below 10 t, ideally 6-7 t, when it concerns a 4-wheel platform.
For this reason, a vehicle should be of minimum size. To provide optimal dimensions, mass and protection level, I think a vehicle of new generation should have 4 or 5 seats.
Moreover, we understood that factory and state testing does not reveal technical issues: they are sometimes held in a ‘softer’ way than they should; sometimes one simply doesn’t want to reveal any issues. We now want to change this concept: we should break everything we can so that new vehicles could be able to withstand maximum stress in extremely rigid regimen right after their creation. Only then can we say that it is ready for state testing. We are planning to build a testing ground in Naberezhnye Chelny where we shall be able to carry out tests in regimen close to real operational conditions.
The second way due to which we could reveal the issues of vehicles in advance is participating in as many competitions as possible because the atmosphere of competitiveness makes a driver to show a vehicle at its best.
Many people say it is dangerous to show the work of the vehicles in such a public manner, because the company’s reputation can be exposed to risk: the vehicle may be broken during the show, which can be seen by thousands of people. Nevertheless, we’ll be able to know what else we should work on more.
Actually, every technology is prone to damages. Even in the Formula 1 show cars are broken and nobody is so tragic about it. When the vehicle is broken, this is the best way to know what we still need to work on in order to improve the design. Any early detection of damages is progress.
After all, we’ll avoid such problems in real combat. It is very frustrating when vehicles are broken during competitions, but if these problems occur during the combat, some people can die. We can’t allow this because these vehicles’ function is saving lives.
- How successful is the export promotion of Remdizel vehicles? What countries do you supply your vehicles to?
- We presented a specimen at the IDEX exhibition in Abu Dhabi in 2017. Clearly, there was shown interest for our products but what must be understood is that participating in exhibitions is too expensive, that is why we must make sure that some practical results can be obtained through presentation of our vehicles.
As ever, among the countries concerned are those of the Middle East, Africa, and CIS. This year, there has been an increasing interest from Latin America countries. At Army 2019, we were captured by Spanish TV channels.
¹ The Lada Kalina is a supermini car produced by the Russian manufacturer Lada (AvtoVAZ) since 18 November 2004 to July 2018. The name Kalina comes from the Russian name for a type of viburnum.
² The Russian citizens used to apply the name ‘kopeyka’ to low-status cars.
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