August 8, 2007:
weapons maker Patria has found yet another customer for its AMV (Advanced
Modular Vehicle) 8x8 armored vehicles.
Croatia is buying 84 of them. Four years ago, the first export sale of the AMV
was made to Poland ($1.2 billion for 313 combat vehicles, each with a 30mm
Bushmaster 2 autocannon, 377 other AMV variants). Most of the AMVs are 8x8, but
some are 6x6 's. AMVs weight from 16-28 tons, have a crew of three and can
carry up to ten passengers. Poland got its first vehicles in 2004, and will
continue to receive them until 2013. For both the Polish and Croatian sale,
most vehicle assembly will be moved to the country getting the vehicles. This
will make it easier to perform maintenance and upgrades on the vehicles over
their 10-20 year life.
Last year Slovenia ordered 135
AMVs. Earlier this year, South African firm Denel purchased AMV technology, in
order to design and build one for use in Africa. Finland has also purchased 86
Wheeled armored vehicles have
become the hot item everywhere on the planet, especially in the last six years.
The American Stryker vehicle is just part of the trend. However, the success of
the Stryker in Iraq has encouraged more orders for wheeled armored vehicles,
which are faster on roads, and cheaper and easier to maintain. The main
manufacturers are Patria (Finnish), Steyr (Austrian, but owned by General
Dynamics), Mowag (Austrian, also owned by General Dynamics) and the BTR line
(an old series of Russian vehicles, currently built by two Russian firms.) There
are other manufacturers, but the above firms have most of the business for
traditional wheeled armored vehicles.
These are 6x6 or 8x8 vehicles
weighing from 12-20+ tons. The most serious competition is coming from armored
trucks, using design innovations pioneered by South African firms. These
armored trucks, best represented by the Cougar vehicle used by the U.S. Army
and Marines, are 4x4 vehicles that are about have the weight of the usual
wheeled armored vehicles. The armored trucks are also less than half the cost
of the wheeled armored vehicles, yet provide similar carrying capacity and
protection. This is an end to the Cold War arms race to produce more powerful,
and expensive, "infantry fighting vehicles" (IFV). These ran on tracks, like
tanks, and had gotten nearly as heavy as the lighter tanks. But these beasts
were too expensive, especially when most armies were looking at more
peacekeeping in their futures, or some other kind of police work.