May 19, 2016:
Ukraine has introduced a new version of its popular BTR-3E1 8x8 wheeled armored vehicles. The BTR-3M2 is a BTR-3E1 with the turret removed and some other changes to the vehicle body to provide more internal volume for the 120mm mortar mounted on the floor. When the armored roof hatch is opened the mortar is ready to fire. Behind the driver there is a 12.7mm machine-gun. The BTR-3M2 is an evolution of the earlier BTR-3M1 from 2014 that was armed with an 81mm mortar. Ukrainian troops pointed out that the BTR-3M1 would be much more effective with a 120mm mortar and that there was room for it. A 120mm has a range of about 8,000 meters while the 81mm is about half that. A 120mm shell weighs about 17 kg (38 pound) of which about 2.2 kg (five pounds) is explosives. BTR-3M2s are already being shipped to Ukrainian Army units and Thailand, which ordered 200 BTR-3EIs in 2012 has ordered some BTR-3M2s as well.
The BTR-3EI is a 17 ton vehicle armed with a 30mm autocannon, a 7.62mm machine-gun, and a 30mm grenade launcher. It also has smoke grenade launchers. There is a three man crew and space for six troops or passengers in the back. There are firing ports and bullet-proof windows in the passenger department. The BTR-3EI was developed in the late 1990s and sells for about $1.3 million each. The BTR-3EI is air conditioned and amphibious, moving at about ten kilometers an hour in the water. The BTR-3 is a Ukrainian upgrade of the original (1986) BTR-80 8x8 wheeled armored personnel carrier. That in turn was an upgrade of the original (1950s) 4x4 BTR-40 which was basically an armored GAZ-63 4x4 truck.