The Lazar armored personnel carrier is named after the Serbian Prince Lazar, who headed Serbian Army in 14-th century. This APC was revealed in 2008.
In the course of current decade, global arms and defense equipment markets show noticeable trends of massive introduction into service with numerous armed forces of wheeled armored vehicles belonging to two main categories, known by their English language acronyms MRAV (Multi Role Armored Vehicle) and MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle). These refer to two classes of vehicles that differ in some of their essential conceptual parameters and their main tactical applications, but which offer comparable main performance levels and parameters of combat effectiveness in certain kinds of present-day armed conflicts, such as anti-terrorist / counter-guerilla operations, control of territories in areas threatened by terrorist/rebel activities, in peacekeeping missions, etc.
MRAV (Multi Role Armored Vehicle)
Procurement of new-generation families of multi role armored vehicles (MRAV) has become an imperative for armed forces of leading Western countries in the current decade. This trend is being followed by other, primarily NATO member countries, but also by armed forces in other parts of the world that are considering or undertaking procurement of these vehicles. This type generally comprises wheeled 8 x 8 vehicles based on self-carrying armored hull structure, using independent suspension (rarely with chassis, as like Finnish PATRIA or German BOXER), featuring high off-road mobility as well as amphibious capability. Armor hull structure is consisting of welded armor plates providing all-arc ballistic protection, as well as ability to replace/retrofit modules of superstructure composite armor, primarily made of ceramics/fiber composite modular removable segments with possibility for fitting of other principally different additional protection, such as rod-type (cage-type) armor or explosive reactive armor (ERA) designed to alleviate damage from hand-held anti-armor projectiles. Vehicles have in basis multi-role features, meaning that various versions can be used as like infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs), armored personal carriers (APCs), reconnaissance vehicles etc. Basic version of the type serves to transport infantry section of 8-12 soldiers that can be rapidly evacuated through tailgate. Vehicle concept provides transport of on board complement in individual seats, most often facing vehicle interior i.e. without the ability to fire personal weapons. Vehicle permanent crew consists of driver, commander and weapons operator; weapons in their simplest configuration consisting of cal 7.62mm machine gun, or complemented with 12.7mm machine gun, cal. 40mm automatic grenade launcher, automatic guns cal. 20mm, 25mm or 30mm, in combination with machine guns and antitank guided missiles. The concept provides some level of antitank mine and improvised explosive device (IOD) protection. Such vehicles are characterized by relatively large dimensions, complex engine, transmission and suspension systems – all of which resulting in their high price. Every model in this category represents a basis for development of a family of armored vehicles that include, beside APC version, self-propelled mortar/artillery platform, self-propelled AA gun/ air defense missile platform, command vehicle, medical evacuation, recovery vehicle, etc.
MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) Vehicle
Contemporary anti-terrorist military conflicts waged by Western countries, led by the USA, in Afghanistan and Iraq, have led to accelerated development of novel kind of armored vehicles – Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles (MRAP). That development was dictated by the need to engage motorized infantry in everyday patrol duties in areas of expected insurgent/terrorist actions, in cities and villages and in hilly or mountainous intersected countryside where ambushes are reasonably expected or where they daily occur, waged by opponents employing small arms fire, anti-armor hand launchers, mortars, antitank mines and improvised explosive devices activated remotely or by trip wire, etc. In the period that preceded escalation of surprise ambush actions so characteristic for present-day armed conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, military units engaged in patrolling, reconnaissance, area control and securing duties and in anti-terrorist operations, were transported in standard patrol and transport vehicles which had little or no armor protection or were protected against small arms FMJ ammunition only. Current experience gained from massive use of ambush engagements, especially in urban and rural areas and in intersected countryside, waged by using wide range of improvised explosive devices, antitank mines, small arms fire and antitank rocket launchers, testifies that standard vehicles have appallingly low resistance against such actions, which have led to very high losses of transported manpower. Response to that threat was development of new category of vehicles, designated MRAP, that were primarily based on converting existing off-road utility vehicles.
Manpower transported in such environment must be able to maintain continuous observation of its surroundings and, in case of need, to quickly disembark the vehicle and assume battle order on the ground. Concept of realization of that category vehicle involves converting of various types of current off-road patrol and utility vehicles – trucks based on cross-country chassis with solid drive axles that are highly resistant to mines, in 4x4, 6x6 or 8x8 configurations. In addition, relatively high clearance of base armor plates from the ground, characteristic for this concept of vehicles, considerably reduces effects of shock wave caused by stepping on antitank land mines against the vehicle, which is a tangible advantage over the concept of current MRAV vehicles.
Main conversion interventions comprise fitting of armored plates or complete modular armored hulls, including portholes made of armored glass for on-board personnel, anti-mine protection and fitting of armament that usually consists of armor-protected, manually operated machine gun cupolas, employing cal. 7.62mm and 12.7mm machine guns. In addition, these vehicles are as a rule outfitted with jamming equipment designed to jam remotely controlled explosive devices operating in mobile phone and other radio frequencies in the vicinity, at ranges of several dozen meters, and with smoke pot dischargers.
Program of equipping the US armed forces with MRAP class vehicles is the third largest in value among all defense equipment projects, after the Joint Strike Fighter and ballistic missile defense programs.
Experience of Serbian (and ex-Yugoslav) defence industry
Armed forces of Serbia, namely Serbian Army as well as Serbian Police, have encountered the threat of terrorist/insurgent activities considerably earlier than threat posed to Western states in Iraq and Afghanistan. Response to the threat to us initially consisted of low-budget, practically improvised projects of armoring and arming cross-country and utility vehicles in service with the police and army forces. Armoring included fitting of steel armor plates and armored glass; arming consisted of mounting machine guns cal. 7.62mm and 12.7mm, automatic grenade launchers cal. 30mm and recoilless guns cal. 82mm on hydraulically extended platforms, as well as mounting of lightly armored or soft cupolas.
These protective interventions were conducted on vehicle types LAND ROVER DEFENDER, HUMMER, UAZ, PINZGAUER and on trucks TAM-110 and TAM-150 in service at the time with the Police and Army of Yugoslavia.
Development of LAZAR multi-role armored combat vehicle
In service with Serbian Army for over twenty years is armored fighting vehicle of BOV family, specialized for use by military police units in various tactical missions of riot control and anti-terrorist operations, designated BOV-3 or VPB M-86. The vehicle was developed based on TAM 150 T7 vehicle chassis elements and fitting of armored hull. Vehicle can transport section of 6-8 military police who can fire small arms from the with permanent crew comprising commander and weapons operator who can fire cal. 7.62mm machine gun M86 with electric trigger from partially armored cupola M86. Vehicle also mounts smoke pot dispenser and folding grill used to subdue riots. Hull armor provides ballistic protection from 7.62 mm AP round fired from distances of more than 100 m.
Jugoimpport-SDPR, as an integrator of Serbian defense industry and in keeping with own development strategy that monitors and analyzes the trends of arms and defense equipment developments and compatibility of noted trends with actual and potential personal, research&development, testing and technological capabilities of Serbian defense industry and its technological partners, has initiated development of a family of multi-role armored vehicles, designed for multiple tactical missions in potential combat environments, intended for wide range of potential customers, including the Serbian Army.
Functional model of the vehicle was completed in 2008 and it is publicly presented for the first time in the pages of this issue or REPORT. Code name of the vehicle is LAZAR, evocating the memory of Prince Lazar who headed Serbian armored cavalry and the entire Serbian army, heroically losing his life in the Battle of Kosovo on St. Vid’s day in the year 1389.
In its concept and applied technical solutions, the vehicle is particularly adapted for use by modern infantry units and special forces engaged in missions within anti-terrorist and peacekeeping operations, with emphasis on engagements in urban conditions, settlements and on intersected terrains, in environments involving ambushes, antitank mines and improvised explosive devices set up by an adversary.
The concept of this vehicle practically represents an advanced MRAP, featuring certain properties (mobility, terrain negotiating capability and fire power) of MRAV class combat vehicle, this combining main characteristics of both, nowadays highly important classes of wheeled armored vehicles.
When designing the concept of the vehicle, special emphasis was placed on achievement of high mobility, system of armor protection, armament system, ability to transport 10 infantrymen who should be able to quickly embark or evacuate the vehicle using tail gate.
Embarked section is so accommodated that fighters face large portholes made of ballistic glass equipped with firing ports, ensuring excellent visibility of surrounding terrain and ability to open fire with personal weapons.
When designing the concept of vehicle’s propulsion and suspension, after careful study and modeling of feasible technical solutions, it was decided to adopt 8x8 drive, featuring live axles and springs which would provide high level of protection from effects of antitank mines, at the same time ensuring high off-road mobility.
During cross-country testing, the vehicle demonstrated very high off-road mobility in varying terrain and weather conditions, very high ability to negotiate gradients, trenches and, in particular, side slopes. Superior slope negotiating ability is especially important when vehicle’s high center of gravity is taken into account, designed so in order to provide better mine protection.
High level of armor protection was achieved by adopting of steel armor hull that, in its basic version, includes ballistic glass panes and provides protection that meets STANAG 4569, level III+ (protection against 12.7x107 mm B-32 API round fired from 100 m) at front and level II at the sides and rear. By fitting add-on armor of laminated composite structure, attached on basic armor, vehicle ballistic protection is rated level V at front and level IV at all other sides. Armored hull design allows quick fitting and replacement of add-on armor sections by vehicle crew, which, when fitted, do not degrade basic functions of the vehicle.
Optionally, fitting of reactive explosive armor attached to add-on armor will provide effective protection against infantry hand launchers of RPG-7 type which nowadays represent main threat in already mentioned type of warfare.
Hull bottom is V-shaped that, in addition to high ground clearance and solid drive train, ensures very high level of protection from antitank mine and IED, according to level IIIa (resistant against blasts of AT mine or IED containing 6kg of HE occurring under vehicle wheels and floor)
Vehicle armament system is situated in the area between driver’s and commander’s compartment and area that accommodates embarked troops. Concept of the vehicle allows incorporation of a variety of turrets, cupolas and weapon stations, depending on main application of the vehicle and planned budget of the user.
Simplest armament consists of partially armored modular cupola M06 with detachable mounts, able to support the following weapon alternatives:
machine gun cal. 7.62 x 54 mm M86 with electric trigger,
machine gun cal.. 12.7 x 108 mm,
automatic grenade launcher cal. 30 mm.
cannon M55 (HS 804) cal. 20 x 110 mm
Existing functional model, as illustrated, mounts light-weight cupola LK08 armed with cannon cal. 20 x 110 mm M55 (HS804), with belt feeding, and machine gun cal. 7.62 x 54 mm M86.
The concept permits installation of different weapon stations equipped with optoelectronic fire control system and an integrated weapons system that may consists of a combination the following weapon alternatives:
Cannon cal. 20 mm M55 Cannon cal. 30 mm M86
Wire-guided AT missile system Malutka 2 with twin launcher Machine gun cal. 7.62 mm M86 Machine gun cal. 12. 7 mm M87 Automatic grenade launcher cal. 30 mm M93
Overall mass of cupola with weapon station is up to two tons, diameter of its support bearing is up to 1600 mm. All versions of the turret, cupola or weapon stations – in addition to listed weapon alternatives – are equipped with 4 dispensers of smoke charges.
Vehicle crew consists of three permanent members – commander, driver and weapons operator – plus embarked section of 10 soldiers – infantrymen, military police, antiterrorist squad, special unit, police or gendarmerie unit, etc.
Folding seats are attached to vehicle roof providing easier crew circulation and added crew protection against effects of blasts under the vehicle.
Embarked section of 10 troops is transported at rear of the vehicle, sitting on folding, ergonomically shaped seats attached to vehicle roof, five men at each side sitting back-to-back and facing the sides of the vehicle, able to observe terrain through portholes of ballistic glass and to fire personal weapons – assault rifles, light machine guns or grenade launchers cal. 40 mm – through firing ports situated below lookout ports. The space available permits easy embarking, evacuation and comfortable accommodation of soldiers wearing full ballistic protection including protective vests with ballistic plates and tactical vests with ammunition and other gear. Space between driver’s and commander’s compartment and embarked crew area, left and right from turret basket i.e. from weapon operator’s station, serves as storage bay for a range of infantry weapons, antitank hand launchers, portable antitank wire guided missile systems, portable air defense missile launchers, etc.
The crew enter and exit the vehicle through tailgate which is also provided with portholes and firing ports and enables embarking or disembarking of complete crew in about 10 seconds including their taking of seats. There are also two side doors, plus two emergency roof hatches.
Observations made by the user during demonstration of the vehicle noted that armored vehicle LAZAR provides comfortable transport, excellent visibility, quick and easy driver training, unhindered and effective use of personal weapons, significant fire support provided by disembarked section using the complement of weapons carried on board, unhindered and rapid disembarking and embarking and, an important impression, feeling of security and domination in the battlefield.
Basic concept of the vehicle represents the foundation for building up its different versions – command vehicle, medical evacuation, logistic support (cargo) vehicle, engineering /recov-ery vehicle, mine clearing vehicle, as well as platform for self-propelled mortar cal. 120mm, self-propelled artillery piece cal. 122/155mm, artillery, rocket or hybrid (artillery/rocket) or air defense system, etc.
Filtering-ventilating system creating overpressure within
the hull, air-filtering system including CBR protection
Command information system (KIS) with GPS based navigation
Panoramic optoelectronic reconnaissance-observation station, stabilized in two planes, fitted with CCD TV camera, thermal imaging camera and laser rangefinder
Command information system (KIS) is a hardware/software device that provides support in mission planning and preparing to unit commanding officers, their decision making, organization, preparing of reports, issuing of orders, locating of target positions and similar activities related to combat activities.
Main functions of KIS
Presentation of own position and positions of other vehicles on situation chart,
Mission planning support,
Determining of own position and navigation,
Communication with superior and coordinating units,
Exchange of information,
Participation in target locating, tracking and firing engagements.