Canadian Tire On “Fire”! Armored Personnel Carrier Supplied To Ukraine By Ottawa ‘Falls Apart’ In The Ukrainian Warzone

A video of a Canadian-made Roshel Senator Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) breaking down in Ukraine with the front tires mangled owing to the rough terrain has emerged on social media. 

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Canadian defense firm Roshel Inc. manufactures the vehicle purchased by the Canadian government for the Ukrainian army, undertaking light tactical support, transport, and logistics roles.

Roshel was founded by a businessman whose family has Ukrainian origins, with several dozen Ukrainian nationals employed in technical and manufacturing roles. 

While Twitter has erupted in criticism of the quality of the vehicle’s make, reports about the Senator series of vehicles and information on the company’s website say they are not meant for heavy frontline battlefield use.

Moreover, the APCs are just remodeled cars with armored bodies on the chassis of Ford’s popular heavy off-roading Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV). 

Wheels Splattered Out

The video shows the Rochel Senator APC on an unpaved road with both the front wheels turned outwards. A Ukrainian soldier leans on the hood for comic effect while a towing hook can be seen lying before it, indicating it is in the process of being towed away. 

The short 15-second clip doesn’t show any other damage to and around the vehicle or any craters on the road. This implies that the Senator had not come under fire, either artillery or small arms, and the wheels gave away solely due to road conditions.

The best conceivable scenario to explain the accident is the wheel assembly suddenly giving away when the APC’s front came down hard on the muddy road. It is also possible that the damage must have occurred after weeks of heavy wear and tear.

Founded By An Immigrant With Ukrainian Roots

Interestingly, the vehicle has Ukrainian origins since Roshel Inc. was founded by an Israeli immigrant to Canada with roots in Ukraine, Roman Shimonov.

Moreover, over the last seven to eight months, the company has been employing displaced Ukrainian citizens in its Mississauga manufacturing plant in Canada’s Ontario, according to a report in CBC News

Roshel purchases the bare chassis and engine of the famous Ford F-550 model of a pick-up truck. They are then outfitted with a specially designed body made of ballistic steel, with mine-protection seats and other safety features made by Roshel.

Ukrainian soldiers have widely used them in their war against Russia, but it is unclear if the APCs were used correctly since the war began in February 2022. 

Shimonov, the founder and CEO, is an Israeli who immigrated to Canada ten years ago after serving in the Israeli military. The idea to participate in the war effort by sending Senators to Ukraine was suggested by his Ukrainian wife.

By the end of 2022, the firm had manufactured nearly 200 Senators, according to a report in Global News that profiled the company, Shimonov, and its new Ukrainian employees. 

The CBC report meanwhile puts the number of Ukrainians in the plant at 80, from among a total staff of 300. They are involved in core technical tasks like wiring, cutting and shaping the metal, and welding the plates.

Senator Multi-Purpose Vehicle – Roshel – Smart Armored Vehicles
Senator Multi-Purpose Vehicle – Roshel – Smart Armored Vehicles

The company already operates a hub in Ukraine for after-sale support, and after the war, Shimonov plans to open a factory there. This would partly be to employ the same workers there when they move back to Ukraine as a part of a larger effort to rehabilitate Ukrainians. 

All Components Designed In-House

Ontario-based Roshel distinguishes itself from other ‘upfitter’ firms, which merely source the various components from other vendors and assemble them over the vehicle.

Roshel practices a sort of ‘vertical integration,’ where all the design, development, and manufacturing of the various components, sub-components, assemblies, electronics, Printed Circuit Boards (PCB), and even writing the software code is developed in-house. 

This also shielded the company from supply chain disruptions post-Covid, where companies undertaking sub-contracting saw their productions halted and could not meet their production targets and deadlines. 

The vehicle has military-grade armor and safety specifications, but a description of their utility on the CBC report indicated the limitations of civilian vehicles modified for military use, which might explain the breakdown in the video. “It’s not meant for frontline combat, but has become critical equipment for Ukrainian troop transports, medical evacuations, delivery of aid, and prisoner swaps,” the report said. 

Thus, the vehicle’s suspension and wheel assembly might not be as rugged as those on dedicated military-use vehicles HUMVEE, Oshkosh, or the Russian Tigr (Tiger). 

Wheels of Senator

Company Is A Popular Choice In Both Ukraine & US

Roshel also builds armored vehicles for government and commercial organizations, including the US State Department and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). 

By November 2022, the Canadian government had bought eight Senators for Ukraine. But NATO and other Western allies had also purchased dozens more since the war broke out. In all, at least a hundred Senators are currently being used by the Ukrainian military and law enforcement agencies. 

By January this year, Shimonov was quoted in Reuters that his company was ready to send 200 Senators to Ukraine by May. This was following Canadian Defense Minister Anita Anand’s visit to Kyiv that month to meet the Ukrainian defense and political leadership. Anand then announced a $90 million contract to purchase and send the Senators to Ukraine.