Partner 2023 – Vihor, a highly mobile and protected vehicle by TRB

Paolo Valpolini

At Partner 2023, TRB (Tehnički Remont Bratunac, Technical Repair Bratunac), the company based in Bratunac, in the Republic of Sripska, Bosnia and Herzegovina, some 90 (130) km E-N-E of Sarajevo, publicly unveils its Vihor light tactical vehicle, a highly mobile and protected 4×4 vehicle for military and police use

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The Belgrade exhibition marks the Vihor first public appearance, however two such prototipe vehicles are already in testing and use with the Specijalna antiteroristička jedinica Ministarstva unutrašnjih poslova Republike Srpske, the Special Anti-Terrorist Unit of Ministry of Interior of Republika Srpska, SAJ in short or CAJ, in Serbian Cyrillic. This unit is also using a number of Despot multirole vehicles also designed and produced by TRB in its Bratunac facility.

Delivered one year ago, the pre-production Vihor are still in the operational evaluation phase, and are mainly used as patrol and command vehicles, in order to deploy commanders on the first line to evaluate firsthand the situation. The two Vihor have logged over 7,000 km, tests being conducted in parallel with the two vehicles.

Capable to carry a two plus two or two plus three crew under armour, the Vihor falls in the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle class, with a gross vehicle mass of 10 tonnes and a two tonnes payload. Quite compact, it is 5.3 metres long and 2.55 metres wide, to ensure maximum mobility in urban areas, it is 2.25 metres high, with a 0.47 metres ground clearance, which gives a 6 m3 under-armour volume. At the back the Vihor features a flatbed that can be used for different purposes, one of them being the transport of two plus two extra passengers who are protected by armour plates on the front and on both sides, the one seen at Bratunac being fitted with four extra seats.

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The new TRB 4×4 vehicle is powered by a Volvo TAD 840-43VE 7.7 litres in-line 6-cylinder turbo diesel with a 1,310 Nm maximum torque which provides 320 hp (235 kW) at 2200 rpm, coupled to an Allison 3000 SP automatic, transmission with six forward and one rear gears. Although the brochure indicates a maximum speed over 120 km/h, The 300 litres fuel tank ensures an endurance of 1,000 km for a standard mission profile.

The Vihor is based on a custom-designed modular chassis purposely for this vehicle , fitted with independent suspensions to ensure maximum mobility on rough and demanding terrains, TRB having selected coil springs with hydraulic dampers, the braking system being also hydraulic and fitted with ABS. The two-speed transfer case, with differential lock and parking brakes, allows a quick shift from high to low gears and back in less than one second, the latter being used not only in cross country but also when a more aggressive drive is required in urban scenarios, where greater acceleration might be useful. Considering operations in build-up areas, TRB minimised the turning radius, which is of 5.5-6.0  metres. In standard drive the differential lock split is 30% front and 70% rear, however the driver can quickly modify it to 50/50 depending on terrain conditions. The vehicle is fitted with 365×80 R20 tires with run-flat inserts and bead lock, central tire inflation system being provided as standard.

The Vihor is fitted with a digital cockpit that provides the driver with all necessary information. Another monitor hosts the images provided by the driving vision system based on a front and rear sensors suite that include daylight and image intensification devices to operate day and night. A

360° vision system based on front, side and rear cameras is also installed to provide full situational awareness and avoid dead angles. The vehicle is equipped with two additional driver’s cameras, one front and one rear, which makes driving as safe as possible in all conditions. A similar monitor is also available to the vehicle commander, who can use it for 360° observation as well as for operating a battle management system.

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The Vihor is capable to overcome a 50% gradient and a 30% side slope, a vertical obstacle 0.48 metres high and ford a 1,40 metres deep water obstacle, approach and departure angles being very similar, respectively 42° and 41°. The Vihor is fitted with a towing hook at the rear, to allow the use of a trailer, and with a winch at the front, for self-recovery operations.

The hull of the 4×4 vehicle designed and produced by TRB is made of ballistic steel and provides full Level 2 protection according to STANAG 4569, which means that the double floor with the V-shaped external one provide Level 2a/2b protection against mines and other explosive devices under wheel and under belly. Transparents protection is provided by multi-layered bullet proof glass is obviously also Level 2; the two delivered vehicles featuring gun ports in the side windows allowing occupants to operate their individual weapons under ballistic protection. The available payload allows the adoption of an add-on armour kit that increases ballistic protection up to Level 3.

The driver and commander access the vehicle via two front-hinged doors while the two/three passengers reach their seats via two rear-hinged doors, a dual-zone automatic air conditioning system ensuring maximum comfort to occupants. An emergency roof escape is also available.

EDR On-Line had the chance to travel on one of the two existing vehicles; comfort proved to be good as well as mobility, with considerable acceleration. The TRB facility at Bratunac does not feature a full test track, therefore it was not possible to stress the vehicle on gradients, slopes and obstacles, but talking to SAJ/CAJ personnel they confirmed that the vehicle met the unit expectations.

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TRB proposes a number of optional for its Vihor, the main one being a remotely controlled weapon station on the roof, the company being ready to also integrate smoke grenade launchers. CBRN protection may also be provided as well as blackout lighting. At Partner 2023 one of the two Vihor on exhibition was fitted with a ROWS M14 armed with a 12.7×99 mm machine gun. The alternator is capable to provide sufficient power to operate power hungry systems such as C-IED jammers, while of course the vehicle can accept a full set of communication devices, usually provided by the customer. A fire suppression system for wheels and cabin can be added, that for the engine compartment being provided as standard. Beside the already mentioned Level 3 add-on ballistic protection, a dedicated protection for the fuel tank can be provided.

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As said the rear open compartment can be used for different purposes, TRB proposing a mortar version capable to host a weapon of different calibres, depending on whether it is used from the vehicle flatbed, or dismounted, using a hydraulic system. At Partner 2023 the Vihor was exhibited with an M 60 mm M06A long barrel 60 mm mortar installed on click on image to enlargethe flatbed, the fire control system being fitted in front of the rear left seat. Two hydraulic jacks were added to cope with the recoil, a recoil absorbing system being foeseen under the baseplate, the company also thinking to an automatic loading system to provide a full under armour indirect fire support capability.

EDR On-Line understood that some more Vihor have been contracted by the same SAJ/CAJ unit, the numbers remaining classified. Considering the strength of special units, production should not be massive, TRB is looking for a military customer to set up a dedicated serial production line, which design is already undergoing. According to information acquired, the second batch of vehicles aimed at the SAJ/CAJ will not feature many differences compared to the first two vehicles, the main one being the adoption of newly designed roof-mounted energy-absorbing seats developed by the same company that produced those of the first vehicles, the new ones ensuring a better comfort to the crew.

Beside the command vehicle variant already in use TRB is proposing its Vihar for various uses such as tactical response, Special Forces border control, patrol, reconnaissance, surveillance and anti-terrorism.

The Vihor joins the Despot, the armoured personnel carrier vehicle capable to carry up to 12 personnel, in the TRB vehicles portfolio, the Despot being also already in service with the SAJ/CAJ antiterrorism unit.

Photos courtesy P. Valpolini