|Manufacturer:||Ratmil Regie Automoma|
|Product type:||Armoured Vehicles|
|Name:||Infantry fighting vehicle|
The MLVM (Masina de Lupta a Vinatorilor de Munte) has been designed in Romania specifically for use in mountainous terrain and can carry an assault group of seven men as well as its two-man crew, which consists of commander and driver. It can also be used to carry stores and ammunition in the forward battlefield area. It is understood that Romania has 73 of these vehicles remaining in service.
The hull and turret are of all-welded steel armour construction providing the crew with protection from small arms fire and shell splinters.
The driver is seated at the front of the vehicle on the left side with three day periscopes for forward observation, one of which can be replaced by a night vision device, and has a single-piece hatch cover. To the rear of the driver is the vehicle commander who has a single-piece hatch cover and three day periscopes, one of which can be raised for forward observation. The commander also has an externally mounted infrared searchlight.
The one-person turret is in the centre of the hull and is armed with one 14.5 mm KPVT and one 7.62 mm PKT machine gun, with the sight on the left side of the turret. The turret is the same as that installed on the Romanian TAB-71M (8 × 8) APC. This turret is recognisable by the large day sight mounted on the left side, which is provided with a protective cage.
The troop compartment is at the rear and is provided with two roof hatches, six firing ports (three in each side of the hull) each with an associated day periscope and a door in the hull rear which has two firing ports and two day periscopes as well as containing some diesel fuel. The troops are seated three each side, with the seventh manning the turret.
Suspension is probably of the torsion bar type with six rubber-tyred spoked roadwheels either side, drive sprocket at the front, idler at the rear and track-return rollers. Some vehicles have been observed with five - not six - road wheels.
In addition to the small arms of the infantry an AG-7 anti-tank grenade launcher is also carried.
The MLVM is fully amphibious, being propelled in the water by its tracks.
There has been no production of the MLVM mountaineers combat vehicle in recent years.
Marketing of this vehicle has now ceased. Variants
Building on its experience in the development of a major upgrade package for the MLI-84 (a local version of the Russian BMP-1) infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) and covered in detail in a separate entry, the Romanian company of Regia Autonoma Arsenalul Armatei has developed an extensive upgrade package for the Romanian MLVM mountaineers combat vehicle.
The aim of this upgrade, which has been developed in co-operation with Tractorul UTB, is to improve the overall efficiency of the MLVM vehicle, reduce its operating and maintenance costs, improve its firepower and generally bring the vehicle up to NATO standards.
The current MLVM is fitted with a one-person manually operated turret, armed with one 14.5 mm KPVT and one 7.62 mm PKT machine gun. These old weapons lack the firepower and range to engage many of the targets likely to be encountered on the modern battlefield.
This has been replaced by the Israeli RAFAEL Armament Development Authority OWS 25R Overhead Weapon Station (OWS) which is already used by a number of other countries including Romania, which has adopted it for a major upgrade of its MLI-84 IFVs. Full details of this OWS are given in a separate entry.
To improve the battlefield survivability of the MLVM, a laser illumination warning system is fitted which alerts the crew when the platform has been illuminated by a laser range-finder or laser designator. This informs the crew via a light and acoustic warning system as to the type of radiation, direction of threat and time from detection.
With this information the crew can try and engage the hostile target, move out of the way or lay a smoke trail or other obscurant allowing the vehicle to escape undetected. The laser illumination warning system has automatic and manual modes of operation.
The six 81 mm smoke grenade launchers are mounted three either side of the hull to cover the frontal arc, with the control panel being mounted at the commander's station.
In addition to being provided with a day periscope, the vehicle commander is now provided with an EC2-55 second-generation intensification periscope developed in co-operation with the French SAGEM-ODS company. This has a magnification of ×3 and a 24° field of view. It is a direct replacement for the standard day periscope. The EC2-55 can detect objects at a range of 1,600 m and recognise objects at a range of 600 m.
The standard production MLVM is powered by a Model 798-05M2 4-stroke supercharged diesel engine, developing 154 hp coupled to a manual transmission.
This will be replaced by a German Mercedes-Benz diesel or Deutz air-cooled diesel developing 340 to 400 hp coupled to an automatic transmission. This gives the vehicle not only an increase in road speed from 48 to 65 km/h but as the engine is more fuel efficient, operational range is increased to 800 km. The power-to-weight ratio also shows a significant increase from 17.11 hp/t of the standard vehicle to 30 to 35 hp/t of the upgraded vehicle.
An EADS S & D L'Hotellier fire detection and suppression system has been installed. This comprises two independent subsystems, which assure a rapid and efficient fire detection and suppression capability in both the crew and engine compartments. There are separate systems for engine and crew areas.
For improved communications, the existing radio system has been replaced by a new system produced in co-operation with Thales of the UK. It is of the VHF frequency hopping type and is said to be fully compatible with NATO systems.
The standard MLVM is fully amphibious, being propelled in the water by its tracks and the upgraded MLVM maintains this amphibious capability and water speed is increased from 6 to 15 km/h.
The basic MVLM has a hull of all-welded steel armour that provides the occupants with protection from small arms fire and shell splinters.
To provide a higher level of protection, an add-on passive armour package can be fitted. Due to the higher power to weight ratio of the vehicle due to the installation of a new diesel engine, the power-to-weight ratio would not be degraded with the installation of additional armour.
In order to accommodate the 120 mm muzzle-loaded mortar, the roof of the rear troop compartment has been raised and when travelling this is covered by hatches that open left and right. The 120 mm mortar has the Romanian designation of the M1982 with the complete vehicle being designated the MLVM AR.
A baseplate and bipod are carried externally on the vehicle to enable the 120 mm mortar to be deployed away from the vehicle if required by the tactical situation.
The vehicle has been observed with two types of roadwheel, one spoked and similar to that of the standard MLVM mountaineers combat vehicle and a second of stamped metal similar to that used on the Romanian MLI-84 infantry combat vehicle.
This is called the M1989, which also has a reworked superstructure with a firing port and periscope in each side, and a new rear door. Additionally, the M1982 mortar now fires forward. This appears to be the standard type in service today.
A small number of the ambulance version has been built. These are similar in appearance to the ABAL and are not fitted with a machine gun turret.
This is very similar to the MLI-84 ICV but has been designed to carry ammunition in the forward area, for example 64 rounds of 100 mm or 104 rounds of 76 mm ammunition, with total payload being 2,100 kg. Some of the ammunition is in ready use lockers in either side of the hull with external access doors provided, while some is stowed inside. This version does not have turret-mounted machine guns although a 7.62 mm machine gun is mounted to the rear of the driver's position with a traverse of 360° and elevation from -5 to +82°. Standard equipment includes an NBC system, fire detection and suppression and communications equipment.
Specifications are similar to the MLI-84 except for combat weight of 10,500 kg, unladen weight of 8,400 kg, ground pressure 0.49 kg/cm2, width 2.714 m, height 1.90 m, maximum road speed 32 km/h, road range 666 km, cross-country range 383 km and fuel capacity 450 litres.