Soon, many Spaniards will be able to see the Ukrainian Army with some armored vehicles whose appearance will be very familiar to them.
Slovenia has delivered 20 of its 85 LKOV Valuk to Ukraine
These vehicles are very similar to the BMR-600 used for decades by the Spanish Army, but they have some clear differences, especially in the front, the troop compartment and the turret that carries a Browning machine gun M-2. These vehicles are the LKOV Valuk, the Slovenian "relatives" of the BMR, very little known in Spain despite the fact that their origin is in the aforementioned Spanish armored vehicle. Yesterday, a local media announced that Slovenia has delivered 20 of its 85 LKOV Valuks to Ukraine, a delivery that was made in secret and unconfirmed or denied by the Slovenian government. The delivery of those 20 vehicles would have been completed this week.
This is not the first delivery of military aid to Ukraine by that small country. Slovenia has also delivered 28 M55S tanks (a highly modernized Slovenian version of the old Soviet T-55 tank), 35 BVP M80A infantry fighting vehicles (the Yugoslav version of the armored Soviet BMP-1), 16 M2A1 105mm howitzers (an old glory that began production in World War II and is still used in many countries) and 20 Humvees >, according to 24ur.com. Although it is old material, it must be taken into account that Slovenia has a very modest Army, so these deliveries have great merit.
The Slovenian version of an Austrian vehicle based on the Spanish BMR
As for the LKOV Valuk, it is a 6x6 armored car made in Slovenia under license on the basis of the Pandur I, an armored car designed in the 1980s by Steyr-Daimler-Puch in Austria. The great resemblance of the Pandur I and the LKOV Valuk with the aforementioned Spanish armored vehicle is not accidental: the Austrian vehicle was based on the BMR thanks to an agreement between the Austrian company Steyr and the Spanish company Santa Bárbara . The collaboration between the two did not end there, as it led to the ASCOD Pizarro infantry fighting vehicle (called Ulan in Austria) in the 1990s.
The Pandur I had the same number of customers as the BMR on which it was based, but far fewer units were manufactured. The Spanish armored vehicle, introduced in 1979, was acquired by Spain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt , Morocco, Mexico and Peru. Among the vehicles manufactured in Spain (1,209) and those manufactured under license in Saudi Arabia (300) 1,509 BMR-600s were produced, with versions for transporting personnel, anti-tank, deactivation of explosives, command, mortar carrier, ambulance, recovery, signals, electronic warfare and NBC reconnaissance.
In turn, more than 400 Pandur I were manufactured in various countries. Introduced in 1996, it was purchased by Austria, Belgium, Gabon, Kuwait, Slovenia, and the United States (specifically, USASOC, Special Operations Command). Like the BMR, the Pandur I has proven to be a very versatile vehicle, with versions for troop transport, ambulance, anti-tank, recovery, command, mortar carrier and artillery fire support.
The differences between the LKOV Valuk and the BMR
The LKOV Valuk received by Ukraine is somewhat smaller and lighter than the BMR. The Slovenian vehicle weighs 13.5 tons compared to 15.4 tons for the Spanish vehicle. Likewise, the Valuk is lower (1.82 meters) than the BMR (2.76 meters) and somewhat shorter (5.7 versus 6.15 meters). In terms of performance, the Valuk is faster than the BMR (100 km/h vs. 90 km/h) but has much less range (700 km vs. 1,000 km).
Personnel transport versions of the Valuk such as the BMR have a 12.7mm Browning M-2 machine gun as their main armament. In the Slovenian vehicle it is in a manned turret, and in the Spanish vehicle it is mounted on a remote control turret. Some Valuks carry a 40mm automatic grenade launcher. For passive defense, both the Valuk and BMR carry six smoke grenade launchers. The Valuk mounts them in two rows of three launchers on the right side, while the BMR carries them in a single row of six launchers on the left side.
In terms of personnel, the Valuk carries three crew members and can carry up to six equipped soldiers, while the BMR carries two crew members and can carry up to eight soldiers. It will be interesting to see how the Valuks fare in the Ukraine. Spain already has extensive experience with BMRs in international missions.
Main photo: Slovenska Vojska. Three LKOV Valuk of the Slovenian Army in the Preskok 2022 exercise, in the fall of last year.
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