|Manufacturer:||WZMot-5 Wojskowe Zaklady Motoryzacyjne Nr 5|
|Product type:||Armoured Vehicles|
|Name:||Wheeled armoured personnel carrier|
IRBIS (The SNOW LEOPARD).
Military Motorisation Works No. 5 from Poznan, since year 2000, consequently has been realising Lynx wheeled armoured vehicles development program, which was initialized by idea of deep modernization of SKOT wheeled armoured vehicles. In frame of this programme, co-financed by Ministry of Defence since 2002 and Scientific Research Committee, already were built: wheeled armoured vehicle in base-armoured version, wheeled armoured vehicles with different armament, command vehicles, mortar carrier and medevac vehicle. All of them, similarly to SKOT were in 8x8 version. In 2005 the family was supplemented by lighter 6x6 vehicle. Market analysis shows that there is still demand for on the version. Many countries shows interest in obtaining 6x6 vehicles. Some are interested only in such vehicles. However 6x6 vehicles are less number on the market than 8x8, it means that there is still a gap to fill. Smaller vehicles are better for reconnaissance or patrol (eg. in expeditionary missions), or as carriers of some kinds of armament. Also the Polish Army has showed interest in such vehicles, ordering among 690 pes. of new wheeled armoured vehicles also 32 pes. 6x6 vehicles, which will conduct reconnaissance missions within units equipped with ROSOMAKs (Wolverines). However even very basic analysis shows that in the Army similar size to the Polish one, even predicting its further reduction, needs for 6x6 vehicles will be even bigger.
Successor is necessary for BRDM-2 vehicles, which are doing majority of tasks related to military and chemical reconnaissance. They are used also as armament carriers and - in expeditionary missions - as patrol vehicles. Where the small, fast and agile vehicle is irreplaceable, modernised Wildcats (BRDM-2) might be still used for several years, however for the other task, the bigger vehicle would be optimal. The problem appears when more number of scouts need to be transported or when installing of specialised equipment is necessary - such as expanded communication and data processing means, radiolocation station or optoelectronic head.
Consultations conducted by WZM 5 among scouts and chemists shows that their proposal meets a big interest. Also experiences gained during missions in Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq shows that our soldiers need completely armoured patrol vehicle, which will be much better in some situations than Scorpio, HMMWV or Wildcat/Jackal, and in which not always bigger 8x8 vehicle would be better. Void transportation by C-130 Hercules class plane is also important. As the practice shows, for majority of 8x8 APCs, with weight exceeding 16,5-17 tons it is problematic because of weight and dimensions.
Constructors from Poznan in 2004 started concept works on vehicle, which was designated in that year as Lynx 6x6. It appeared that designing such vehicle is not that easy. It's not only matter of "cutting" the hull before the last axis. Such variant was also initially considered, but measures of driving system kinematics quickly showed big differences in weight on each axis, arising of tensions in hull etc. Such vehicle wasn't be able to drive properly, apart of it many exploitation problems would arise. In relation with it designers decided to completely reconstruct carriage system, with using of majority of systems from the other versions. Second and third axis were moved in such way to make a distance between them equal and in the same time received favourable axis load distribution.
Thanks to that the rolling resistance decreased, which in consequence leads to better traction and longer vitality of mechanisms including tires. The vehicle has also ability to float in all versions in whole range of maximal weight, even despite loosing of floatation reserve. For 6x6 vehicles it's not that easy, because loss of draught is bigger than loss of weight, and that's why floatation reserve is reduced in significant extent.
However thanks to high floatation reserve of Lynx 8x8 (in the heaviest version exceeds 25%), in the shorter APC it's still in secure range. Despite introduced changes, unification level of IRBIS and Lynx is quite big and reach 80%.
IRBIS demonstrator was created using elements of SKOT, however serial vehicles will be produced from the beginning as completely new vehicle. IRBIS will be also test field for some solution which might be used in other vehicles of the family. The most visible is hydraulically foldable back ramp closing the crew section. It doesn't need to be used each time (it is necessary to turn off the engine when using the ramp), because there are single doors, opening to the side, built in the ramp. The vehicle is fully prepared for installing of new power pack modification with IVECO Motors Cursor 10,315kW/430hp engine. APC with low hull typical for combat versions has ceiling prepared for quick installing station for different types of armament. Initially it is prepared for installing unmanned RCWS-30 Rafael turret or remotely controlled stations of Rafael RCWS-12,7 or ZSMU-127 KOBUZ made by OBR SM from Tarnow. Change of the armament might be done in the field conditions. Ceiling of shorter, in this case, crew compartment, also needed some modification. Configuration of hatches was changed. Currently there are two hatches opened to the sides, just next to the back edge. It might be also single hatch. In the walls of crew compartment also standard shooting holes appeared for conducting shooting from the insides. Currently there is one hole in each side in other configuration it might be two holes.
IRBIS demonstrator will be completed in base version of military reconnaissance. It will have set of communication equipment basing on VHF and HF radios, FONET internal communication system made by WB Electronics and place for scouts. It will be armed with ZSMU-127 KOBUZ remotely controlled module made by OBR SM Tarnow. Of course there is ability to place the equipment according to buyers requirements including installation of advanced technical observation devices.
IRBIS might be considered as a carrier for different types of armament, also being supplement for BRDM-2 vehicles. It might be used for construction of self-propelled tank destroyer with Spike anti-tank guided missile, or as a part of light anti-aircraft defence system - as a carrier of MMSR radiolocation station, electro optical head or POPRAD missile system. Works on 6x6 IRBIS APC were financed from WZM 5 own funds.