Russian troops are gearing up for a fight in the Arctic, and exploring ways to keep troops mobile in the frozen terrain.
As the Arctic region continues to thaw, swaths of valuable minerals, hydrocarbons and shipping lanes are triggering intense competition among regional powers. If a military is to compete in these frigid battlescapes, their mechanized troops need to stay mobile.
The Russian Federation seems to understand the doctrinal limitations of conflict in the cold north, and is developing the gear to deal with such a scenario.
In a Russian-language video, Russian troops were spotted driving a variant of the Chaborz M-3 combat vehicle, made in Russia’s semi-autonomous Chechen Republic.
The video, posted to YouTube, appears to be sourced to Ramzan Kadyrov — the head of the Chechen Republic — based on a watermark placed on the footage.
The multi-purpose vehicle depicted in the video has caterpillar tracks on the rear axle and skis in place of front wheels.
According to the video’s description, it was tested near the Murmansk Oblast in Russia’s far north this March. Russian special units appeared to use the vehicle in a series of training exercises in the region over the spring.
The Chaborz M-3 is a variation of other Chaborz vehicles designed by the Russian University of Spetsnaz, located in Grozny, Chechnya. The university is understood to be more of a private military complex and workshop that develops modern special operations tactics, techniques and procedures.
The National Guard of Russia, an internal Russian military force that reports directly to Russian President Vladimir Putin, also takes part in training at the complex regularly, according to social media posts by Kadyrov.
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The Chaborz is manned by a three-person crew. Two individuals can sit at the front of the vehicle, while another operates a top-mounted heavy weapon. The one in this video appears to be a 7.62-mm machine gun.
A newer Chaborz variant is the M-6, which was on display in February at a defense conference in Grozny, according to Tass, a Kremlin-sponsored news agency. Like many new pieces of Russian military equipment, it’s claimed that the M-6 has been “combat tested” in Syria and outperforms similar American vehicles.
"Designers will come up with several versions of engines and transmissions, which is very important in adopting the model for climatic conditions and mission goals," Kadyrov told Tass at the defense conference. "Our vehicle outperforms its Israeli and U.S. rivals in terms of price, cross-country ability and speed. I’m sure it will be in great demand at the combat vehicle market."
U.S. special operations forces have also developed various all-terrain, lightly armored, but decently armed tactical vehicles.
Polaris’ MRZR variants, for instance, have become popular among U.S. special operators and are commonly used in training and on real-world missions. The U.S. Army’s 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Division and the 1st Brigade Combat Team at 10th Mountain Division are even expected to test unmanned Polaris MRZR X vehicles this year.
Kyle Rempfer is an editor and reporter who has covered combat operations, criminal cases, foreign military assistance and training accidents. Before entering journalism, Kyle served in U.S. Air Force Special Tactics and deployed in 2014 to Paktika Province, Afghanistan, and Baghdad, Iraq.