What Brand Truck Does the Russian Military Drive?
On February 24th, 2022, Russia invaded the nation of Ukraine. The result is proving to be the largest land war in Europe since World War II. Images of Russian trucks and 4×4 troop transports convoys are filling the news. Here are the makes and models of the most common Russian military vehicles.
GAZ Tigr armored troop transport
One of the newest vehicles in Russia’s arsenal is the GAZ Tigr troop transport. The Gorkovsky Avtomobilny Zavod (GAZ) company began building this vehicle for the Russian army in 2004 and the first units went into service in 2006.
These van-like armored transports are each 19 feet long and 7.9 feet high. They have room for two crew members plus a machine gun (up to a 50 caliber), or a grenade launcher. Depending on its configuration, a GAZ Tigr can carry up to 11 troops.
The GAZ Tigr’s drivetrain will be familiar to fans of classic Ram trucks: these trucks were originally engineered around the 5.9L Cummins turbodiesel I6. Some trucks have Russian-built manual transmission, others an Allison or Chrysler automatic.
The Cummins 6BT can propel the 15,900-pound GAZ Tigr at up to 87 mph. Locking differentials and a winch keep the vehicle moving off-road. Several countries, including China, now build their own GAZ Tigr transports under license from Russia.
For the 2017 model-year GAZ redesigned the Tigr and opted for an in-house diesel engine instead of the American-built Cummins. But it stands to reason that many Cummins-powered, pre-2017 GAZ Tigrs are still in service.
Ural 4320 multi-purpose 6×6 truck
The instantly recognizable Ural 4320 may be the most quintessential Soviet-era military truck. It is an off-road 6×6 vehicle designed for moving large numbers of troops or heavy equipment. Ural Automotive has been building this military truck since 1977.
Today, Ural builds the 4320 with one of two in-house engines: a diesel V6 or a diesel V8. The larger engine endows the truck with a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of 33,750 pounds. That comes out to a 13,200-pound payload capacity and a 25,350-pound tow rating.
Russia presses this versatile platform into service in configurations ranging from tanker truck to armored transport for 24 troops to a cabover flatbed equipment hauler. Convoys made up entirely of Ural 4320 trucks have been spotted crossing the border into Ukraine carrying troops and gear.
One of the first Russian vehicles the Ukranian Army captured was a Ural 4320 6×6. Confusingly, a group of Russian saboteurs had driven the distinct truck in an attempted infiltration of Kyiv.
KAMAZ 6×6 missile launch vehicle
The Russian military favors artillery and ground-to-ground missiles-according to the Washington Post. When President Vladimir Putin ordered the attack, Russian troops shelled Ukrainian targets for two hours before beginning their ground invasion.
In the past, the Russian army has leveraged either the larger Pantsir-S missile system or the smaller BM-21 Grad missile system. While the army sometimes mounts these systems on tracked tanks, the decks of ships, or even trains, it usually mounts them on trucks. The smaller system usually rides on the Ural 4320 while the larger one gets a KAMAZ 6560 cab-over (or forward-cab) 8×8 truck.
But during the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the press photographed convoys of truck-mounted Russian missile launch systems crossing the border. The weapons fit neither of the common missile platform profiles. The launch systems were smaller, likely the BM-21 Grad. But instead of riding on older Ural 4320 truck, they were each fit on a KAMAZ cabover 6×6 truck. This is very likely the KAMAZ 53228.
KAMAZ builds a range of wheelbases and configurations of its 4×4, 6×6, and 8×8 trucks for both the military and civilians. The company offers a series of in-house diesel V8 engines in its larger trucks and an option for Cummins turbodiesels in its smaller trucks.
Russia’s military trucks
These are only three of the trucks used by the Russian military. But these three models have been photographed often in the invasion of Ukraine.
The Russian military uses a dizzying array of trucks. Most of them are diesel. Some of them have tried-and-true designs, dating back to the Cold War. While some use Russian engines, some of the newer models use engines imported from the U.S.A.
Read more about the Russian Army’s Cummins engines.