Russia’s BMK Debuts The ‘Drozd’ Amphibious Car

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Russia’s ARMY-2020 trade fair is currently being held just outside Moscow, with domestic manufacturers providing previews of some of the new products on offer. One of the most exotic is the ‘Drozd’ (Songbird) amphibious vehicle presented by the Baltic Machine-Building Company (BMK) of St.Petersburg.

Sergey Tereshenkov, the designer and head of BMK describes the design as the first Russian all-wheel-drive amphibious “hydroplaning” vehicle in its class. As a planing design, the Drozd has the speed required to achieve a hydroplaning effect, lifting itself partly off the surface of the water much like a speedboat or hi-speed ferries such as the Hong Kong-Macau turbojets do. A prototype of the amphibious car is currently being tested.

The Drozd is “practically unsinkable” according to Tereshenkov, and it reportedly has a maximum speed of 43 miles per hour on the water and up to 62 miles per hour on land. Power from its 260-horsepower diesel engine is delivered via a three-speed automatic transmission. A “high level of cross-country ability allows the amphibian to be used on public roads, off-road, and in the waters of rivers, lakes and seas”. Its range on land is stated as 497 miles, and 186 miles on the water.

The Drozd is attributed with a total weight of 4,409 pounds and can carry a payload of up to 3,307 pounds. The amphibian’s lightweight structure is achieved through the use of composite materials, especially carbon fiber, which is used to create a load-bearing composite hull. The amphibian’s hydrodynamics were the responsibility of Russia’s Kompan Marine Systems, a manufacturer of high-speed vessels for security forces, as well as for sport and leisure use.

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The front wheels of the car are retracted to a horizontal position, an unusual feature for an amphibious vehicle, but one that is said to increase seaworthiness in conditions up to Sea State 3 (wave height of 1.25 meters). Meanwhile, the rear wheels are raised above the bottom of the hull when on the water. A central tire pressure regulation system — a common feature on Russian military vehicles is also included, while the front of the vehicle carries a spare wheel and tire plus a winch for self-recovery.

The production is clearly planned for military use and will be offered with weapons options including machine guns and various “combat modules” including multiple-launch rocket systems, although it also seems likely that BMK foresees a civilian market for the vehicle, both in Russia and elsewhere.

Russian auto-designers have been having a productive time the past 12 months, with the country expecting to host Formula One from 2022 as well as developing electric and driverless cars, a range of robotic trucks suitable for Arctic conditions, and the top of the range Aurus intended to compete with Mercedes and Bentley.

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Russia Briefing is written by Dezan Shira & Associates. The firm has 28 offices throughout Eurasia, including China, Russia, India, and the ASEAN nations, assisting foreign investors into the Eurasian region. Please contact Maria Kotova at russia@dezshira.com for Russian investment advisory or assistance with market intelligence, legal, tax and compliance issues throughout Asia.

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