Built for mass production of motor vehicles for civilian uses, the ChBP was initially focused on the assembly of foreign-brand vehicles for the needs of domestic and export customers, with yearly production amounting to the thousands.
Bogdan Motors ventured into the defense segment after the Kremlin launched military aggression against Ukraine in 2014 and, also, in response to private-sector initiatives aimed to meet the Armed Forces requirement for automotive and armored fighting vehicles.
Read more: UK destroyer Dragon enters port of Odesa
In the early years of war in Donbas the Ukrainian forces had to make up the shortage of wheeled vehicles they required by way of requisition from civilian organizations or emptying out strategic reserves, but this was a stopgap measure. It simply was not possible to maintain fighting capacity and logistical needs of the deployed forces without ensuring the continuing supply of modern military equipment. This brought on the agenda the need to replace the Army’s fleet of Soviet legacy (i.e. Russian produced) wheeled vehicles that are still in use by the Ukrainian forces deployed in Donbas. The goal was to phase out those vehicles, which are liable to failure due to having become obsolete and worn-out, to be replaced with domestically produced, more current-generation counterparts, with due account taken of the needs and demands of potential military users.
In 2014, Bogdan Motors launched R&D projects to develop military vehicles in several categories. One was a modern armored personnel carrier – speedy, highly maneuverable, and offering a sufficiently high level of armor protection for the crew and passengers. The Company developed its lineup of APC vehicles named BARS. The first vehicle in the lineup, the BARS-6 was subjected to multiple upgrades and modifications, which resulted in what is now known as BARS-8 – an armored multipurpose platform that is suitable for use by all armed service branches that may require it for their standard missions. The BARS-8 vehicle incorporates parts from a world renowned supplier, which are all proven technologies that are currently operated in all climatic and geographical environments across the globe.
The BARS-8 APC technology has been used as the baseline for development of the mobile 120-mm mortar system BARS-8MMK and the counter-battery radar vehicle BARS-8AR, which both have been developed by Bogdan Motors through collaboration with UkrOboronService.
In 2016, Bogdan Motors began R&D on the medivac vehicle Bogdan-2251, which was needed to replace its Soviet legacy counterpart, the UAZ-452 that has become outdated and outworn. The initial shipment of Bogdan-2251 medivac vehicles was delivered to the Armed Forces medical services in June 2017.
The Bogdan-2251 vehicle and its patient compartment had both been subjected to continuing upgrades based on user inputs during its first year of deployment. This resulted in an improved and enhanced version that began to be fielded as early as in 2018. There had been no serious warranty complaints filed with regard to the performance of the Bogdan-2251 medivac vehicle over that year.
Truck vehicles is another category of vehicles that Bogdan Motors develops and manufactures. In 2015, ChBP set up an assembly line to assemble the trucks Bogdan 6317 using knock-down kits sourced from an international supplier, and initial deliveries to deployed forces began in 2016.
The Bogdan 6317 was then modified to accept the Weichai Power engine, which was needed to attain a higher level of commonality within the Armed Forces’ truck inventory. Bogdan Motors also proposed changes to the knock-down kit, which required a minimum amount of redesign to be made in the vehicle’s chassis. The modified and upgraded version, the Bogdan 63172 successfully passed through the crucial governmental trials that revealed only minor drawbacks to be repaired. The Ukrainian military has thus obtained a new truck vehicle, the Bogdan 63172, equipped with a powerful, reliable engine, the Fast Gear transmission, and the Turkish-produced clutch Hummer.
The Ukrainian Armed Forces have the highest requirement for truck vehicles, given that 80 percent of the existing fleet is outworn and outdated. The new trucks are intended to be deployed with the field Army units, primarily artillery and logistics units.
In response to a requirement from the Ukrainian military, Bogdan Motors has also developed a multipurpose off-road vehicle, the Bogdan-2351, which has already passed through governmental trials and has been cleared for user evaluation. The initial shipment came to the Armed Forces in 2018 and received very positive feedback from military personnel in the field. The Bogdan-2351 has been put in service with C2 and logistics units, counter-battery units and other users requiring light motor vehicles with high-speed off-road capability.
In 2018-2019, the Bogdan 3355 and Bogdan KM-450 vehicles have succeeded through the crucial phase of the governmental trials process. Both have been developed to replace the Soviet legacy military truck GAZ-66 that is still in operational service with the Ukrainian Army.
The KM-450, a light utility truck produced under license by Bogdan Motors, has been in military use in 29 countries. In Ukraine, the KM-450 has been produced with some changes made to its design, aimed to meet specific requirements of Ukrainian military users and to expand its operational capabilities. The vehicle is intended to be used by artillery and communication units, and for light cargo roles.
The Bogdan 3355 has been developed as a modern replacement to the GAZ-66. Bogdan Motors is looking to modify the vehicle for the medivac roles that used to be performed with the Soviet legacy AS-66 vehicle.
In 2015, Bogdan Motors did a huge amount of work developing a full lineup of universal, standard truck bodies. Overall, bodies in seven different configurations have been developed using structural frames that had earlier been proven in the construction of bus and trolley bodies and, later, in rugged and durable construction of the patient compartment in the Bogdan-2251 medivac vehicle.
The military vehicles produced by Bogdan Motors have all been designed to have a substantial export potential. Unlike many of their international rivals, Bogdan Motors’ vehicles have been proven and tested in real-world combat operations. Over the years in this field, Bogdan Motors has acquired a unique experience in developing and improving military vehicle technologies for various purposes to address the evolution of the modern battlefield.
The lineup of motor vehicles being produced by ChBP could be considered to be promising for use by military and security forces of the countries keeping large inventories of Soviet equipment. Ukrainian experience proves that procurement of Bogdan-63172 and Bogdan-53162 vehicles is a suitable and cost effective option for the armies looking to modernize their logistics operations, and it also ensures the minimum time and cost of adapting the existing maintenance infrastructures and practices to the new vehicles.
In the field of special-purpose vehicles, Bogdan Motors would offer its Bogdan-2251 and Bogdan-2351 vehicles that have already fared well in combat and never received any serious complaints from users while under warranty during all of 2018.
Bogdan Motors has had as its prime goal not just to supply the Customer with modern equipment it requires, but also to continue with R&D to ensure the vehicles it makes are more capable, more reliable, more durable, more fault-proof, and less prone to failure. Over the years in development and production, Bogdan Motors’ medivac vehicle, for example, has gone through three upgrades from the initial design; heavy-load off-road trucks have received two upgrades; and BARS-series APCs, beginning from the first prototypes through to the test proven models, have gone through seven evolutions. Even the multipurpose off-road vehicle Bogdan-2351, which received no serious user complaints during its first year of operational use, would be subject to several changes to its design in 2019, to be developed based on inputs from deployed military users.
Read more: Mission of Ukraine to NATO to introduce electronic exchange of classified documents between Ukraine, Alliance – Mission's acting head