The Ukrainian venture Highland Systems led by Ukrainian engineer Alexander Kuznetsov has successfully developed the world’s first hybrid armored caterpillar vehicle powered by an electric motor and capable of crossing the sea.
Alexander Kuznetsov unveiled the electric amphibious armored vehicle, called “Storm”, at the international defense exhibition IDEX-2021 in the United Arab Emirates on Feb. 21.
Work on the prototype began two years ago in Kyiv. But the team soon ran into technical and financial problems completing a full-fledged model.
“Our idea was perceived as strange in Ukraine and as a result, there was no financial support for the project,” Kuznetsov said in an interview with the media outlet “Gordon”.
Instead, Highland Systems moved to the UAE and entered into a partnership with the Streit Group, a well known UAE-based defense company. In just five months, the team of Ukrainains had put together its first prototype.
According to Kuznetsov, the economic and administrative conditions in the UAE are much more favorable than in Ukraine. “We quickly found partners who provided us with premises and technical support, without interfering in the process,” Kuznetsov said.
Kuznetsov describes a seamless transition to the UAE. The team arrived in September of 2020 and within three days their company was registered and working on the prototype.
They didn’t have to pay any taxes because their production was located in the free economic zone. And when the car was sent to the exhibition hall, customs officers helped with the necessary documents.
The electric armored vehicle has Finnish armor, a hybrid propulsion system that can be powered by both an electric motor and a diesel engine, and Australian shock absorbers capable of withstanding a load of 65 tons. The batteries were manufactured at a Chinese plant that also produces Tesla batteries.
On roads and sand it can get up to 140 kilometers per hour, working nonstop anywhere from 18 to 36 hours. Designed to meet the needs of marines or countries with amphibious vehicle requirements, it can also withstand waves up to 1.5 meters high.
The vehicle will be able to be used in airdrops, to support the coast guard, ship cargo and provide medical care. “In the desert, where other equipment fails, our car is able to perform tasks, ” said Kuznetsov.
A company in Sharjah, UAE produced durable rubber tracks for the armored vehicle that are easy to operate and repair. When conventional caterpillars are damaged, they have to be discarded. If the tracks are damaged on the “Storm”, only the damaged part needs to be replaced.
This makes the vehicle almost 70% cheaper compared to other models, Kuznetsov noted.
According to Kuznetsov, the vehicle has already generated a lot of interest. He and his team plan to conduct additional tests to refine the prototype, including installing additional equipment to be able to dive underwater, developing a wheeled version of the vehicle, and adding combat modules designed by the Ukrainian State Enterprise Design Bureau, Luch.
“The demand for such vehicles is high and we are planning to launch serial production,” Kuznetsov said.
The IDEX-2021 exhibition took place on Feb. 21 to 25. This year, more than 900 manufacturers of military equipment and weapons from 59 countries took part.
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