After years of delays, Russia has
finally begun production of its new BTR-90 wheeled IFVs. A variant of the
BTR-80A APC (which traces its lineage to the BTR-60 APC that has been purchased
or built in a large number of countries), it has a crew of two and carries
eight infantry. It uses the same turret as the BMP-2, with a 30mm cannon, a
coaxial 7.62mm machine gun, and an AT-5 Spandrel anti-tank missile. Unlike the
original 8x8 BTR-60, which carried 14 troops, the BTR-90 only carries eight,
but under better armor. Both the BTR-80 and 90 are similar to the American
Stryker. Many variants of the 17 ton BTR90 are planned, including one that will
carry a 125mm gun. The BTR-90 was first shown in 1994, but money shortages
prevented tooling up for mass production. The Russian army plans to buy
hundreds of this vehicle, and export sales are expected as well.
The BTR-90 costs less than half as much as the
Stryker, even when equipped with a lot of the electronic gadgets that make the
Stryker so popular with the troops.