The Russian MT-LB

The MT-LB is one of the unsung successes of Russia’s inventory of armoured military vehicles. Originally developed in the late 60’s as a tracked vehicle capable of towing 6.5tons of artillery gun across the battlefield, it has a rear section for transporting the crew of the towed artillery piece, which gave them armoured protection from small arms fire and counter battery fire (the enemies artillery firing on yours).

The ability to carry troops has seen the vehicles roles expand to not only its now most common, being the APC, but ambulance, tank destroyer and command vehicle, to name a few, with licensed production in Bulgaria and Poland, only to be exported to other nations outside the Former U.S.S.R. and re-classed as a multi-purpose tracked vehicle.

The Russian MT-LB Specifications:

Weight 11.9tons
Length 6.45m
Width 2.86m
Height 1.865m
Crew 2 (+ 11 passengers)
Armour 14mm max.
Primary armament various includes 7.62mm PKT machine-gun
Engine 240 hp YaMZ 238, V-8 diesel
Power/weight 20 hp/tonne
SuspensionTorsion bar
Operational range 500 km
Top road speed 61 km/h
Top water speed 5 to 6 km/h

The Russian MT-LB (Common) Variants:

MT-LB – Towed 122mm D-30 towed artillery piece or 100mm T-12 Anti Tank Gun.

MT-LBV – low pressure track version, with 565 mm tracks giving a ground pressure of 0.27cm². Used in Arctic regions instead of BMP or BTR wheeled vehicles.

MT-LBU – Command vehicle with additional radios, generator, land navigation system and canvas structure that extends from the rear for additional space for briefings.

TT-LB – Artillery/mortar locating radar mounted on the roof, folds forward when travelling AKA “Big Fred” in NATO.

MTP-LB – Repair vehicle, A-Frame stowage on vehicle roof, winch, tools and other repair equipment.

MT-LB Ambulance – Has stretchers in rear compartment.

MT-LB Engineer vehicle – Stowage box on roof and hydraulic blade at hull rear.

MT-LB Tank destroyer – AT-6 Anti-Tank Wire Guided missile launcher raised through the roof hatches to be operated.

RKhM – Chemical Reconnaissance vehicle – Built with MT-LB vehicle components.

Vehicle is used for various artillery and air defence fire control.

Polish MT-LB Variants:

As a former licensed manufacturer of the vehicle, roughly around 200 vehicles still remain in service with the Polish Army, including electronic warfare vehicle and are slowly being withdrawn from service. This vehicles serve along side the Polish Opal, which is a highly modified MT-LB and entered Polish service around 1995. Vehicles include Hors (Reconnaissance) Durian (engineer, tows a trailer that fires a mine breeching system to blast a way though mine fields to clear a path) Kroton (engineer vehicle that blows out mines from tube launchers to lay mine fields) Lotos (ambulance).

The Opal has a reshaped front, water propellers at the rear for increased amphibious capability, a new small turret on the APC versions with a 12.7mm MG and a small increase in Horse Power.

Bulgarian MT-LB Variants:

Bulgaria built under licence (since 1972) the vehicle in various variants, to not only serve (and still is) as Bulgaria’s principal APC but was sold to the former Iraqi Army, who operated it in the 1991 Gulf War. A total of around 2300 vehicles have been built. It is the countries principal APC and has been built in other roles.

MT-LB R-81 – Command & Communications
Repair & Recovery
MT-LBU – Reconnaissance
MT-LB SE – Ambulance
MR HR – Chemical Warfare
Mortar Carrier – 82mm & 120mm, which are fired from within the vehicle.

Swedish MT-LB Variants:

Sweden purchased MT-LB’s from the former East German Army in 1993, following its disbandment. These vehicles were upgraded to meet Swedish standards. In August 2010, Sweden signed an agreement with Finland for the purchase of 113 new 8×8 wheeled AMV vehicles to replace various vehicles in current service, including the MT-LB’s from 2014 onwards.

Pbv 401 (pansarbandvagn) – APC with 7.62 mm machine guns Ksp 95 and Ksp 58.
Stripbv 4011 (stridsledningbandvagn) – Battalion command post.
Bgbv 4012 (bärgningsbandvagn) – Swedish designator for the MTP-LB.
Rlpbv 4014/T (radiolänkbandvagn) – Signals vehicle.
Stripbv 4015 (stridsledningbandvagn) – Company level command post.
Lvrbpbv 4016 (luftvärnsrobotbandvagn) – Equipped with RBS 70.
Pvrbbv 452 (pansarvärnrobotbandvagn) – Equipped with RBS 56 BILL 1 Anti-tank guided weapon.

Ukrainian MT-LB Upgrades:

The Ukraine was the original manufacturer (The Malyshev Factory) of the MT-LB for the former USSR. The Ukrainian Kharkiv Morozov Machine Building Design Bureau has developed an upgrade package for the vehicle.

This is an installation of an armament module comprising a ZTM-1 30mm chain  gun, 7.62 mm machine gun with two new sights, as well as a smoke/aerosol screen laying system.

Calibre – 30mm
Rate of fire – 330rds/min
Muzzle velocity – 970m/s
Point blank range – 1200m
Slant firing range when engaging air targets – 4000m
Gun Weight – 84kg
Projectile Weight – 0.9 kg
Recoil force – 60 kN
Ammunition feed – two-belt feed
Gun ammunition allowance (in 2 magazines) – 150rds

The Russian MT-LB Operators:

Bangladesh – Ex Iraqi service
Iraq – The new Iraqi Army
Sweden – Ex East German service