TechBulgarian armored vehicles bound for Ukraine amid delays

Bulgarian armored vehicles bound for Ukraine amid delays

Bulgarian armored transporter being prepared for transport
Bulgarian armored transporter being prepared for transport
Images source: © X, @front_ukrainian

5:34 AM EST, March 3, 2024

In spite of diverging opinions among Bulgarian politicians, the nation’s parliament voted in July 2023 to transfer the unused armored personnel carriers to Ukraine. Despite this, the initiative faced a hurdle when President Rumen Radev vetoed the decision, a veto that was overturned in December. This has extended the timeline for the formalities needed to transport this heavy military equipment from Bulgaria to Ukraine.

Bulgarian armored personnel carriers set for Ukraine

“The armored personnel carriers destined for Ukraine are still in Sofia. They will depart in the coming days, though I won't specify when,” stated Bulgarian Minister of Defense Todor Tagarev, as reported by the Unian agency. He also mentioned that Ukraine has previously received other forms of aid from Bulgaria, including the S-300 air defense systems and missiles. Bulgaria has shown support for Ukraine since the onset of Russian aggression, occasionally feeling its contributions, such as fuel and ammunition deliveries, were undervalued. Notably, Bulgaria has reserves of ammunition for Soviet-era weaponry and continues its production. Particularly, the 122 mm and 152 mm caliber shells, utilized by Ukraine in many Soviet-era artillery systems, were at one point supplied by Bulgaria, meeting up to one-third of Ukraine's ammunition requirements in the early stages of the conflict.

About the BTR-60

The BTR-60 armored personnel carriers, prepared for Ukraine, are sourced from the stockpiles of the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. While some are unused, their technical condition raises concerns due to their age, given they were manufactured in the 1960s and 1970s.

When compared to more contemporary models, the most notable drawback of the BTR-60 is its armor. The armor’s thickness varied across different parts of the vehicle and according to the production year, which compromised its overall strength due to the numerous joints and welds. The utilization of steep angles for the armor plates was an attempt to compensate, but it only partially mitigated the issue.

It is anticipated that the Ukrainian forces will primarily use the BTR-60s for transporting troops and equipment across relatively safer zones, akin to their strategy with other older, less armored vehicles, which are unsuitable for front-line operations.

The BTR-60 features an 8x8 drive, a length of approximately 24.6 feet, and can accommodate up to 16 individuals. It boasts a top speed of about 50 mph and can surmount vertical obstacles up to 1.3 feet high, in addition to being capable of water crossings. Its armament includes 7.62 mm and 14.5 mm caliber machine guns.

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