now, I doubt this will ever have anything to do with World of Tanks, as the vehicles this article is about are way too modern, but they are interesting nonetheless.
Armored recon of the Czechoslovak People's Army (ČSLA)
As any military expert will tell you, on-spot recon is very important for the modern army's operations. It was hower a Czechoslovak army's weakspot well until the early 80's. The reason for that was the fact that the Czechoslovak army didn't have a proper tracked (and reasonably armored) recon vehicle. Combat recoinnaissance was generally conducted by the OT-65 armored transporter (in its recon configuration). This vehicle was far from perfect and had a number of weakspots. For one, it's a wheeled vehicle, which by itself causes lower terrain passability. Its maneuverability was also low and even the heavier versions were insufficiently armed for the task. During the army divisional training in 1977 and 1981, this has become even more apparent.
The stopgap measure taken was the use of the BVP-1 IFV ("bojové vozidlo pěchoty" - the Czechoslovak copy of BMP-1) as a recon vehicle, but given the lack of the sophisticated optics and sensors, it was judged as inadequate and a decision was made in April 1983 by the Ministry of Industry to task Konštrukta Trenčín (a Slovak engineering company) to develop a specialized tracked recon vehicle, based on BVP-1. The basic project was ready by the end of 1984 and the project was given a code name "Svatava" (a Czech archaic female name, also a river in northern Bohemia) and designated as a "BPzV" - "Bojové Průzkumné Vozidlo" (English: Combat recon vehicle)
The prototype (the work on which started in February 1985) was built on a modified BVP-1K platform. BVP-1K (the designation "K" - taken from Russian means "komandirskij", a commander vehicle). The difference between the standard BVP-1 and the command version includes:
- additional radio station R-123M
- additional radio station R-107T
- additional UHF infantry company/platoon radio system RF-10 (for communicating with infantry), plus additional powersources for all these devices
- improved intercoms and remote controls for the additional radio equipment
- 2 pieces of field telephone plus cables
- TNA-3 navigation system
The prototype was ready in July 1985. The vehicle was armed with the 73mm 2A28 smoothbore gun and the PKT machinegun. It however also had an ATGM launcher for the 9M14M "Malyutka" missiles (NATO designation: AT-3 Sagger). The vehicle also had an 81mm smoke grenade launcher, NNP-21 night vision device, PSNR-5 ground radar, MRP-4 seeker radiolocator and a TNA-3 navigation device. For its time and for the possibilities of the Czechoslovak army, the vehicle was pretty sophisticated.
The first tests were held later in July and continued till September. The parameters were:
Weight: 13,9 tons
Armor: 6-23mm (similiar to the BVP-1)
Engine: UTD-20 16 liter V6, 295hp (980 Nm torque)
Transmission: mechanical 5+1
Road speed: 65 km/h
Terrain speed: 45 km/h
Floating speed (the vehicle is amphibious): 5 km/h
Armament: 73mm smoothbore 2A28 (400 m/s muzzle velocity PG-15V HEAT shell, 300mm penetration), PKT machinegun, AT-3 Sagger
- PSNR-5 radar
- MRP-4 seeker radiolocator
- NNP-21 night vision device
- TNA-3 navigation device
- PAB-2A compass
- laser rangefinder
- laser detection and indication system
- ÚV-20 water purifier
- OS-3 decontamination unit for operations in NBC-polluted areas
Between 1988-1990, 200 pieces were made. 16 were bought by the Polish army, which called them BWP-1S (Bojowy wóz rozpoznawczy-1 Swatawa). In the Czechoslovak army, the vehicle was used in tank and motorized infantry regiment recon companies. It is possible (although speculative) that the East-German army was testing the vehicle also, but never bought any.
Slovak army Svatava
After the Czech Republic/Slovak Republic split, Czech army was using the Svatava vehicle until 2009, when it was declared obsolete and the last surviving 12 Svatavas were decommissioned. It was replaced by BVP-2 (licensed BMP-2) vehicles (without any recon equipment).
In 1988, the development of the replacement vehicle was started. It was decided to use the BVP-2 (BMP-2) platform. The project was developed between 1988 and 1990, when it was cancelled under the name of BPzV Sněžka (Sněžka, in German "Schneekoppe", is the tallest mountain of Czech Republic). The AT-4 Spigot (9M113 Konkurs rocket) launcher was removed, the only weapons to stay were the 2A42 30mm autocannon and the PKT machinegun. The vehicle was equipped with television and thermovision sets and an independent electric source for the recon systems. Only a prototype was made, the vehicle was never accepted to service. This is how it looked:
Further specifications are unknown. There was apparently a second project of a BVP-2-based recon vehicle, designated "Vyšehrad". It is not clear in fact, whether it's the same vehicle or a different project, not much is known apart from the fact it existed.
Epilogue - OT Zubr and Pandur vehicles
Have you ever heard of the OT Zubr by PSP (not to be mistaken by the Polish Zubr armored vehicle, that's something else)? No? Well, no wonder. It was an independent wheeled APC/IFV project from the early 90's by a Czech company PSP Přerov - and a good one too. Its fate however was a sad one. Last year, I have been in personal contact with a representative of the current company, PSP Engineering, which is PSP Přerov's leal successor, in order to find the original ZUBR blueprints. What I found out was the history: PSP was a relatively successful company and in the early 90's, when the communists were "thrown down" in the so-called "Velvet revolution" (read: they gave power to Vaclav Havel's cronies in exchange for economic power in the country, many of the old communists and secret service agents are the current Czechoslovak billionaires, for example Andrej Babiš and others), Václav Havel, who was paid by the Americans, completely destroyed Czechoslovak military industry. One of his victims was the PSP Přerov's "Zubr" project. Only a promo leaflet scan now remains public. This is how it would have looked:
After PSP went bankrupt and was bought by American investors, the original plans were not considered interesting and they were destroyed. A copy most likely remains in the Czech military archives, but I believe it is still classified, haven't looked into it yet.
A decade later, instead of supporting local military development, the politicians decided to buy the Austrian Pandur II wheeled for Czech army (72 pieces) - to be fair, certain Czech companies participate on its manufacture. One of the roles it fulfills is combat recon. It's not a bad vehicle, but the whole thing ended up as a huge scandal, as the vehicles were purchased for several times the price given to other customers - it turned out to be a huge corruption case and it is being investigated till now.
my own research