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With ‘Huge’ Funds From Its Allies, Ukraine Is Buying A Hundred Polish Fighting Vehicles

Ukraine has inked a deal with Poland to acquire 100 Polish-made wheeled fighting vehicles.

It’ll take a while for Polish firm Rosomak S.A. to build the 25-ton, eight-wheel Wolverines—potentially many months, if not a year.

But when they do arrive, they’ll significantly boost the Ukrainian army’s mobility and firepower. The Wolverine is fast, with a top speed of 60 miles per hour thanks to its 500-horsepower diesel engine.

And its 30-millimeter autocannon—the same gun that arms the U.S. Army’s Europe-based Stryker wheeled fighting vehicles—is a killer.

Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced the vehicle deal in a Facebook post on April 1. “The quality of this equipment is evidenced not by words, but by the experience of the soldiers,” Morawiecki wrote. “Wherever soldiers use Wolverines, the equipment collects the best reviews.”

Ukraine is paying for the $4-million vehicles with what Morawiecki described as “huge” funds provided by the European Union and the United States.

The 25-foot-long Wolverine, which has a crew of three and seats eight infantry, is a Polish version of the Finnish Patria AMV vehicle.

As part of a sweeping rearmament effort in 2002, Poland bought the license to the Wolverine. Finnish contractors spent six years helping the Poles establish local production of hulls, engines, suspensions, wheels, turrets, radios and guns.

Rosomak S.A. “showed remarkable capacity to adopt new technology, skills and talent,” Patria stated in a release.

The Polish army has acquired more than 900 Wolverines and assigned them to several mechanized brigades. A decade ago, the army modified scores of Wolverines with extra cage armor and deployed them to Afghanistan, where some survived rocket attacks and roadside bombs.

If the vehicle has a flaw, it’s that the Poles initially insisted on an amphibious capability. In other words, the Wolverine had to be light enough to swim short distances like a very slow, awkward boat.

But that meant reducing armor protection. In a major war like that in Ukraine, a rational army almost always would choose armor over floatation. And indeed, Rosomak has developed a bolt-on armor kit that restores the Wolverine’s protection, but at the cost of its swimming capability.

Expect the Ukrainians to favor that heavier Wolverine M1M.

The Poles bought Wolverines to replace many of their aging, and extremely vulnerable, Soviet-vintage BMP-1s. The Ukrainians still operate hundreds of BMP-1s, so they might do the same.

Swapping a 60-year-old BMP-1 for a brand-new Wolverine is a profound upgrade. The BMP-1 with its thin armor is vulnerable to machine-gun fire—to say nothing of rockets, artillery and anti-tank missiles. And the BMP-1’s low-velocity 73-millimeter gun practically is useless in an intensive fight.

The Wolverine by contrast not only can protect its passengers from a wider array of threats, it also possesses significant offensive firepower. The vehicle’s Bushmaster autocannon, a larger-caliber version of the 25-millimeter weapon that arms the American M-2 fighting vehicle, can destroy enemy fighting vehicles and, from the right angles, disable enemy tanks.

The Wolverines join a long, and growing, roster of modern fighting vehicles Ukraine is buying new or getting used from its foreign allies. German Marders. American M-2s and Strykers. Swedish CV90s. Three hundred in all—400 if you count the Wolverines.

Russia meanwhile is struggling to build more than a handful of new BMP-3 fighting vehicles every month, owing to a shortage of high-tech components.

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