Armor: CV90 Armored Personnel Carrier


April 4, 2024: Last year Sweden and Ukraine signed an agreement to jointly produce the Swedish CV90 APC (Armored Personnel Carrier) in Ukraine. Sweden has provided Ukraine with nearly $2 billion worth of weapons and military equipment since the Russians invaded in early 2022. This is a substantial effort for a nation of ten million. Despite its small population, Sweden is a major developer and producer of modern weapons, including infantry weapons, jet fighters, armored vehicles, artillery, air defense systems, warships, and submarines.

There are several reasons for its relatively large arms industry. Sweden is an industrialized nation that has been neutral for two centuries despite being close, geographically, to Germany and Russia, two nations that were major instigators and participants in the major wars of the last 150 years. Maintaining Sweden’s neutrality has not been easy. For example, Sweden recently sought to join NATO, which nearly all NATO members saw as a good thing. Getting into NATO was blocked by Turkey, which insisted Sweden extradite Kurdish separatists to Turkey. Turkey was one of the original NATO members because it needed help in dealing with potential Russian aggression. Now Turkey cooperates with Russia and feuds with its fellow NATO members. Sweden was persistent, patient and very stubborn about protecting Kurdish refugees it has accepted. In March 2024 Sweden became the 32nd member of NATO.

Russia is losing its war in Ukraine and suffering economically from sanctions imposed because it invaded Ukraine in 2022. One reason the Russian invasion failed was massive arms contributions from Western nations, including Sweden. Several of these contributors have Swedish developed weapons, including the CV90 armored vehicle. Currently Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Slovakia, Switzerland, and Ukraine use CV90s. The CV90 is a unique armored vehicle because it has been in use for nearly three decades. Sweden began developing CV90 towards the end of the Cold War. CV90 entered service in the 1990s and attracted many export customers. Many Swedish weapons continue in use for decades because of continuous upgrades, CV90 is an example of this. CV stands for Combat Vehicle and it has been a very flexible and adaptable combat vehicle.

CV90 production started in 1993. The 28-ton tracked vehicle has a crew of three and carries seven or eight passengers, usually infantrymen. With a top road speed of 70 kilometers an hour, the CV90 can go 300 kilometers on internal fuel. The vehicle turret carries a 30mm autocannon and a coaxial 7.62mm machine-gun. Also in the turret is a thermal imager for night operations. The vehicle armor protects against projectiles of up to 30mm caliber.

There are several variants of the CV90, carrying different weapons, including 120mm mortars, anti-tank missiles, 25mm, 30mm, 35 and 40mm autocannon, a 105mm low-recoil cannon as well as anti-aircraft radar and many types of missiles.

The CV90 is 6.55 meters long and 3.1 meters wide. Average cost of a new CV90 was about $5 million each but some cost less than that because CV90 can use a wide variety of weapons, armor, and equipment. So far, nearly 1,500 CV90s have been produced with Sweden using about a third of those. Switzerland, Finland, Denmark, and Netherlands are major users and together operate as many CV90s as Sweden. Several of the original owners of the CV90 upgraded them with things like more armor, better electronics, and air conditioning. Some models weigh 38 tons and new weapons are also available. There are several models of ATGMs (anti-tank guided missiles) available plus several different calibers of autocannon.

The latest CV90 model has the novel Barracuda camouflage system. This is a camouflaged blanket which reduces the thermal signature, making it difficult for thermal (heat) detection fire control systems unable to spot a CV90. The current model has a turret with a 40mm autocannon. Ukraine received 50 of the latest CV9040C model and wants to obtain a thousand more. This is one reason for the coproduction deal with Sweden to manufacture CV90s in Ukraine. It will take at least two years to get all that production built and operational.

Users have been quite satisfied with the Swedish CV90, in part because there are so many weapons and equipment options. So far there have been six major models of CV90, starting with the first ones that went mainly to the Swedish army. This version was armed with a 40mm autocannon. The sixth version is currently in development and expected to enter service in 2027. Many users of older models upgrade when a new model comes out, integrating new features and weapons that their older CV90s can accommodate. This is the main reason so many older CV90s remain in service.




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