A prototype of Ukraine’s wheeled armored personnel carrier (APC), modeled after the Soviet BTR-60, has been sighted on the front line in eastern Ukraine for the first time.
In the video footage shared on social media, the armored vehicle, known as BTR-60М Khorunzhy, was reportedly spotted along the front line close to Bakhmut.
When Russia invaded Ukraine, the BTR-60М was reportedly undergoing production tests, and the Ukrainian Military had not adopted nor authorized its use.
It is important to note that the APC in the video is slightly different from the one that was first unveiled in Kyiv in 2021.
According to reports, the vehicle lacks the cameras included in the trial version with hull number “240” for the driver to inspect around the perimeter. There’s no camera on the upper frontal area of the hull, either.
A rare Ukrainian armored personnel carrier "Khorunzhy" (a deep modernization of the BTR-60) is somewhere at the front. pic.twitter.com/J4saBL77aZ
— M|§F|T ???? (@am_misfit) February 19, 2023
The taillights were moved from the bottom to the top of the vehicle, and the driver’s viewing window was given new armored protection. Like earlier models, the hull’s structure has a few minor modifications.
The Praktika Research-and-Production Association manufactures the vehicle. The open machine gun turret for the gunner was also added to the armored personnel carrier, just like it was on previous Kozak-2M1-like vehicles from the same manufacturer.
Possibly modifications to the armored personnel carrier’s design have been made in light of the lessons acquired during the initial stages of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
It is also likely that the armored vehicle shown in the video was later produced as a different experimental type but was not shown to the public.
This is not the first time Ukrainian forces have deployed experimental military equipment on the battlefield. In October 2022, it was reported that the modern Ukrainian BTR-4MV1 armored personnel carrier, a one-of-a-kind demonstration sample, took part in the combat in the Kharkiv region.
A few days after the invasion, the Ukrainian army deployed a prototype of “Kevlar-E,” a tracked armored Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) in Kharkiv.
The BTR-60 is a “deeply modernized” version of the Soviet BTR-60PB. During the modernization, all units were replaced and rearranged, including new armor, with only the armored personnel carrier’s undercarriage remaining unchanged.
The armored hull offers high protection. The engine was changed, but the suspension was left in place. One Deutz diesel engine with an Allison automatic transmission is placed in the front of the vehicle rather than two.
The modern compartment configuration of the armored personnel carrier places the motor compartment in the front right section of the hull, the driver compartment in the front left part and the larger landing compartment at the back.
The Deutz diesel engine considerably improved traction and fuel efficiency. The vehicle has a new automatic transmission, a fire extinguishing system, an auxiliary power plant for power supply, a modern climate and ventilation system, an aft ramp, and a round-robin system.
The updated BTR-60 Khorunzhiy with the Turkish SARP KPVT remote combat module outfitted with a KPVT 14.5mm heavy machine gun and the thermal sight was also put through factory tests in 2021 by Praktik NGO.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that Ukraine would continue to defend the eastern city of Bakhmut.
Zelenskyy was quoted in the media at a time when debate surrounds whether Kyiv should keep its outnumbered troops in the city in eastern Ukraine that Russian shelling has all but devastated.
Before the war, 70,000 people lived in Bakhmut, in the frontline Donetsk region, but according to Ukrainian officials, only 5,000 civilians remain there now.
Following its initial failure to move on to the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, Russia focused on seizing control of the Donbas, which comprises the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Since July, when Russian forces took two major towns in the north, they encircled Bakhmut.
Many experts argue that Bakhmut is crucial because it acts as a trap. According to Ukrainian military strategists, the town, surrounded by a river and wooded areas, is essential for containing Russian invading forces.