December 15, 2010:
Russia has arranged to co-produce 2,500 Italian LMV (Light Multipurpose Vehicles) armored vehicles in Russia. The Italian manufacturer, Iveco, already builds and sells the LMV. Earlier this year, Spain ordered 50 more LMVs. Other users include the Italian Army, along with Belgium, Britain, and Norway. The seven ton, 4x4 vehicle is another design influenced by the success of armored hummers and MRAPs (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicles in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Italian army has ordered 1,210 LMVs, and received most of them. Some have already shown up in Afghanistan. Spain had already ordered 120 LMVs in the last three years, and was pleased with their performance.
Like the hummer, the LMV normally carries five people. The LMV can carry a remote control gun turret on the roof, and there will be variants with the rear of the vehicle used for cargo or equipment. The LMV is similar in size to the hummer (5.1 meters/15.8 feet long and 2.35 meters/7.3 feet wide), but is actually a few percent larger, and weighs about a third more. Like the hummers built with armor (rather than having it added), the LMV provides excellent protection from bullets and roadside bombs. The V-shaped hull of the LMV improves protection from explosions beneath the vehicle. The LMV costs nearly half a million dollars each, when tricked out with all the accessories, using the larger (3.5 meter compared to 3.2 meter) wheelbase, and configured for maximum bomb resistance.
Building a foreign armored vehicle design in Russia is an admission that the local defense industries have not kept up. For many Russians, it's a humiliation for something like this to happen. Russia was a pioneer in armored vehicle design before World War II, and for several decades after. But by the 1980s, Russia had lost the lead. Western armored vehicle designs of all types were moving ahead. So now Russia is doing what it did in the 1920s, importing armor vehicle design ideas and technology from the West, and trying to build something better. It worked once, it might work twice.