VOP-26 Sternberk BVP-1PPK Snezka

     The Snezka artillery reconnaissance version is based on the BVP-1 chassis (the Czech license-produced version of the Russian BMP-1), but for the most part, that’s where the similarity ends.  It is specially outfitted for its role, and is greatly modified from their BVP-1 roots. The BVP-1PPK Snezka (sometimes referred to as the PzPK) was introduced just before the split-up of Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and is currently used by the Czech Republic only, entering service with 1997. 

     Being a BVP-1 chassis, it has a number of components in common with that vehicle.  The driver is located in the left front of the hull, with the engine to his right.  He is seated behind a sharply-raked glacis plate which allows the Snezka to have much better frontal armor protection than the thin metal of the armor would otherwise provide.  The driver has three vision blocks to his front; the center block can be removed and replaced by a night vision block.  The first version used an active IR block; later improvements gave the driver a passive IR block to be used in conjunction with IR headlights or an IR searchlight.  The driver’s controls are remarkably simple for APCs and IFVs of the period: the driver has a steering yoke and a conventional gas and brake pedal.  To the rear of the driver is the commander’s position, which has a manually-rotating cupola with a machinegun.  The commander has control of a conventional day vision periscope. The day periscope has a magnification of x5.  The commander’s vision blocks have heating devices to help remove fogging due to weather as well as wipers to remove moisture due to rain or mud.

     The UTD-20 300-horsepower diesel engine is mounted in the front to the right of the driver, and is coupled to a manual transmission.  The Snezka’s engine has a limited multi-fuel capability – it can burn almost any grade of diesel fuel, and it can also burn kerosene. The Snezka may lay a thick, oily smoke screen by injecting diesel fuel into its exhaust. The ground pressure is relatively low, and the Snezka can cross fairly deep snow without getting bogged down; it can also traverse some swampy terrain with a reasonable chance of success.  The Snezka is also amphibious with minimal preparation; a trim vane must be erected at the front and bilge pumps turned on.  The hull is airtight once the rear doors are closed, and buoyancy is assisted by hollow roadwheels and roadwheel arms with air chambers in them.  The amphibious capability is rather limited – a current as little as 1.2 meters per second (4.3 kilometers per hour) can swamp a Snezka. Cross-country travel has been smoothed out considerably from the standard BVP-1.

     The modifications start with the stretching of the chassis from one with six roadwheels into one with seven roadwheels; however, the engine is not changed and the Snezka is much heavier than the BVP-1, so performance suffers. The Snezka is an advanced fire direction vehicle to spot and designate targets for artillery; it has a secondary role of more general reconnaissance. The Snezka features a sensor pack on a 14-meter folding lifting arm, containing a laser designator, a laser warning detector, counterbattery radar, ground surveillance radar, a thermal imager and a FLIR camera, an image intensifier, several TV cameras, and a wind velocity indicator.  The TV cameras include one slaved to the FLIR, another slaved to the image intensifier (which is an advanced model with a range of 5000 meters), and a day camera with a telescopic lens and a range of 1000 meters.  The laser rangefinder and laser designators are also advanced models, with the laser rangefinder having a range of 20 kilometers and the laser designator having a range of 5 kilometers.  The counterbattery radar and the ground surveillance radar sets are standard, except that they have a greatly increased response time when tracking moving targets; the ground surveillance radar can almost track moving vehicles in real time, with just a slight delay.  Inside the Snezka is a sophisticated computer setup able to collate all the data from the sensors and analyze it.  The computer has a 50% chance of being able to identify vehicular and static military targets by type, based on sensor data. The computer also computes fire solutions for up to five artillery, MRL, and/or mortar batteries working with it. All this data can be passed to higher/other friendly units by three data-capable radios, and the Snezka also has a medium-range and short-range radio and hookups for two field telephones (not included).  The Snezka has a GPS navigation system with an inertial navigation backup, with navigation data being passed to the driver via a small LCD screen and to the commander by a larger LCD screen.  The commander’s station has two screens for displaying the navigation information and a distillation of the sensor data. 

Price

Fuel Type

Load

Veh Wt

Crew

Mnt

Night Vision

Radiological

$634,867

D, A

400 kg

17.4 tons

4

13

Passive IR (D), 2nd Generation Image Intensification (Mast), Thermal Imaging (Mast), FLIR (Mast), Counterbattery Radar, Ground Surveillance Radar

Shielded

 

Tr Mov

Com Mov

Fuel Cap

Fuel Cons

Config

Susp

Armor

112/78

27/17/3

462

174

Trtd

T3

TF3  TS3  TR3  HF8  HS4  HR4*

 

Fire Control

Stabilization

Armament

Ammunition

None

None

NSVT (C)

1200x12.7mm

*The “Turret” of the Snezka actually refers to the sensor mast.  This “Turret” has no crew inside and no crew casualties are possible from a “Turret” hit on the Snezka.  All crew casualties for the “Turret” are converted to electronics/equipment damage.

 

VOP-26 Sternberk BVP-2 LOS

     While the Snezka is a very capable FIST vehicle, it is considered to be a vehicle that is to be operated at a longer range from enemy positions, both because of its capabilities and because commanders want to risk as little as possible such a valuable vehicle as the Snezka.  Therefore, the Czechs came up with another FIST vehicle based on the BMP-2 chassis, the BVP-2 LOS (Light Observation Vehicle; both the acronym and name here are the English equivalents, and I do not know the Czech versions). The LOS, like the Snezka uses the chassis and hull of the BMP-2, but the similarity ends there.  Both the Snezka and the LOS are part of the Czech ASPRO artillery fire control system, along with other components.  The LOS has been in service since about 2006.  The LOS has been offered for export, without any sales, since mid-2007; Sternberk, the makers of the LOS, is willing to mount the FIST-specific equipment onto other tracked or wheeled vehicles of appropriate size, but there have been no requests for the LOS FIST system on any other chassis.  Currently, the Czech Republic is the only nation to use the LOS.

     Like the Snezka, the LOS uses an extended chassis, with seven roadwheels instead of six, and about a meter longer than the BMP-2.  Externally, the LOS looks quite similar to the BMP-2, but has a number of externally-visible components that are specific to the LOS.  The turret of the LOS is the same as used on the BMP-2, but the “autocannon” and “ATGM launcher” are dummies, non-functioning mockups of the actual weapons.  This is done because a FIST vehicle is a much higher-priority target than a troop carrier; it is a form of camouflage.  Inside the turret, there are no gun parts, and no ammunition feed or storage components, nor ATGM control components or missiles.  The turret is instead packed with mission-specific equipment, as is the hull.  The turret retains the PKT machinegun as well as the commander’s cupola. There are three smoke grenade launchers on each side of the turret.  The turret retains the fire control laser rangefinder in the turret. The turret can take the same kovriki appliqué armor as the BMP-2.

     The LOS’s sensors are largely contained in a mast-mounted sensor package behind the turret.  The sensor package is raised when the LOS is fulfilling its FIST vehicle role; when the package is not needed or the vehicle is in more than slow movement, the sensor package is lowered completely into the vehicle and the package is protected by automatic armored doors which have the same AV as the rest of the hull roof.  The mast raises to a height of 4.3 meters; it can be traversed 200 degrees right or left and elevate or depress up to 40 degrees.  The sensor package includes a low-grade night vision channel, a FLIR, an image intensifier, a laser rangefinder, a laser designator, and a gyrocompass.  (Sternberk has indicated that it is willing to change or add equipment and features in the sensor package.)  The LOS has two TV cameras; one is slaved to the image intensifier and is primarily used for day observation, and one is slaved to the FLIR and used primarily for night observation.  The image intensifier is an advanced model with a range of 5 kilometers, while the FLIR is also an advanced version with a range of 10 kilometers.  The laser rangefinder is a high-powered version with a range of 20 kilometers, while the laser designator has a range of 15 kilometers. A second laser rangefinder and laser designator is mounted in the turret; these have normal ranges.

     The hull houses two more FIST members, who are equipped with computers to collate the sensor information and keep track of up to five targets at once.  The LOS is equipped with a computer which can help the FIST in their job, including keeping track of the sensor information, giving them a 50% chance if identifying the vehicle or building which is a potential target, and computing fire solutions.  All crew members have access to LCD screens which give them relevant information (for the driver, this is only navigation and vehicle state information).  The commander and “gunner” have two such screens, while the FIST members in the hull have two such screens as well as a BW monitor.  They can also control the sensor package using a keyboard with a mouse and joystick.  The LOS is equipped with GLONASS navigation with inertial navigation backup equipment; in extremis, the driver can also navigate using the gyrocompass in the sensor package.  Part of the rear space is taken up by a 5kW generator.  Part of the LOS’s equipment are two data-capable long-range radios, a medium-range radio, and a short-range radio.  Some of these radios are mounted in the turret, which is actually quite cramped despite the deletion of the weapons and ammunition. The data-capable radios can communicate digitally with other friendly units so equipped, including providing a video feed.  The LOS has an air conditioner installed.

     Of course, being a BMP-2 variant, the BVP-2 LOS shares a number of features with the BMP-2.  The driver of the BMP-2 is in the front left hull with the engine to his right. He has three vision blocks to his front, and the center block can be removed and replaced with a night vision block. The engine has the same power has the BMP-1 – 300 horsepower – but is an improved supercharged diesel engine called the UTD-20/3 that has greater reliability and acceleration than that of the BMP-1.  The transmission is semiautomatic instead of manual and easier on the driver than that of the BMP-1.  The driver (and commander) have access to a gyrocompass to help them navigate. The LOS is amphibious with a little preparation, requiring the extension of a trim vane at the front and the switching on of bilge pumps, and requiring 5 minutes.  Some sources say the LOS is propelled in the water by its tracks, and others say that propulsion when swimming is switched to waterjets; I have not been able to determine which is correct. Amphibious operations can be dangerous in the LOS, particularly in a strong current; and the suspension’s bearings are not airtight, and freeboard is not great. Also in recognition of this possibility, the shallow side skirts are hollow and filled with foam to increase buoyancy. The suspension is improved over the BVP-2/BMP-2.

Price

Fuel Type

Load

Veh Wt

Crew

Mnt

Night Vision

Radiological

D, A

400 kg

16.2 tons

4

9

Passive IR (D, Mast, G), Image Intensification (Mast), FLIR (Mast)

Shielded

 

Tr Mov

Com Mov

Fuel Cap

Fuel Cons

Config

Susp

Armor

124/87

30/18/3

462

177

Trtd

T3

TF11  TS7  TR6  HF9  HS5  HR4*

 

Fire Control

Stabilization

Armament

Ammunition

None

None

PKT

2000x7.62mm

*Hull floor armor for the BMP-2 and most of its variants is 3, except in the part of the vehicle under the driver and turret, where it is 4.