Will Swedish CV90s become Ukraine's main infantry fighting vehicles?
The powerful Swedish CV 90 infantry fighting vehicles may soon be jointly produced and serviced in Ukraine. The goal is to produce 1000 of them for the Ukrainian Armed Forces' immediate needs
Espreso will tell you what makes these infantry fighting vehicles interesting, how they have the power of a light tank with certain modifications, what their characteristics are, and why the production of CV90 in Ukraine can help the Armed Forces in the war against Russian aggressors.
History of creation
Back in the 1980s, Sweden began developing a new modern infantry fighting vehicle. The main goal was to create a combat vehicle that would meet the requirements of rapid response on the battlefield, have a high level of mobility and protection, and be suitable for various combat missions. The Swedes called it simply Stridsfordon 90 (translated as combat vehicle), abbreviated as Strf 90. In English, it is called Combat Vehicle 90 (abbreviated to CV 90).
Since 1984, the first prototype of the Strf 90 has been developed by Hägglunds, a company owned by British BAE Systems, at the request of the Swedish Army for a family of combat vehicles for various purposes on a single chassis (i.e., both for IFVs and light tanks). Serial production of the CV90 started almost a decade later in 1993. Since then, about 1,200 vehicles have been produced in various modifications. Interestingly, most of them were exported to other countries, but Sweden itself has hundreds of these IFVs.
The CV90 has seven current and three more prospective operators, including the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Ukraine. The price under the 2022 contract with the Czech Republic is EUR 10.12 million per Strf 90 for an order of 246 aircraft.
Characteristics of CV 90 infantry fighting vehicle
The key characteristic of the CV 90 is the combination of high maneuverability and armor, which makes this IFV effective on the modern battlefield. There are several modifications of these vehicles, for example: CV 9040 (base model), CV 90120 (with a larger caliber gun), CV 90105 TML (with a tank turret), CV 90 Armadillo (with improved armor and blast protection), CV 90120-T (with anti-tank missiles), CV 90 ARV (armored personnel carrier), CV 90 AA (equipped with anti-aircraft missiles), and others.
The main armament is a 40-mm Bofors L70 automatic cannon, a 30-mm Bushmaster II automatic cannon or a 35-mm Bushmaster III. The armor consists of ceramic application armor, which is supposed to protect against shells of up to 30 mm caliber.
General technical characteristics of Strf 90:
- Weight - 23-37 tons;
- Length - 6.55 m;
- Width - 3.1 m;
- Height - 2.7 m;
- Crew - 3 (commander, gunner, driver);
- Troops - 7-8 soldiers;
- Armament - 40-mm automatic gun Bofors L/70 or 35-mm automatic gun L/50 Bushmaster (export models MkIII and MkIV); 30-mm automatic gun L/40 Bushmaster (export models MkI and MkII);
- Secondary armament - 7.62-mm Ksp m/39 machine gun, 6 × 76-mm grenade launchers;
- Sight - day and night thermal imaging sight with laser rangefinder;
- Engine - 14-liter diesel Scania DS14 I6 or 16-liter diesel DC16 V8;
- Power - 550-1000 hp (410-745 kW);
- Operating range - 320 km;
- Maximum speed - 70 km/h.
The main purpose of this armored personnel carrier is to supply and support infantry on the battlefield. These vehicles are designed to transport infantry and provide them with protection during combat operations. The CV 90 armored personnel carrier allows infantry to be quickly and safely transported to the place of mission. They are also equipped with powerful weapons that can fire on ground and air targets. This helps infantry repel attacks by enemy forces and support offensive operations. In addition, some BMPs can be converted to be used as ambulances to evacuate the wounded from the battlefield.
What is special about the Strf 90 infantry fighting vehicle?
When comparing different IFVs with each other, on the one hand, the CV90 has traditional armor and firepower parameters, but on the other hand, it stands out with its revolutionary CV90 chassis with Formula 1 technology. The key to every vehicle is the platform itself, i.e. the chassis. It determines the level of armor, weapons, and maneuverability.
The CV90 has the engine in the front offset to the right, the turret in the middle, and the airborne compartment in the stern. But the most important thing is the suspension, which is designed to weigh about 40 tons. This makes it possible to install a high level of protection and a large airborne compartment for 8 soldiers.
But the main know-how is the use of active damping on the torsion bar suspension - Active Damping. This technology was first used on Formula 1 cars. In simple terms, this suspension adapts to the surface, the speed of the car and adapts the stiffness in advance depending on the need. This allows to significantly increase the smoothness of off-road driving, increase the average speed by 40%, improve the accuracy of fire on the move and the comfort of the crew and troops.
Where it was used
CV 90 infantry fighting vehicles have been used in various conflicts and operations in different countries. In addition to Sweden, these vehicles are also used in Norway, Finland, Switzerland, the Netherlands and other countries. In terms of their characteristics, Strf 90s are similar to the US M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, but the Swedish vehicles can carry more troops and have better maneuverability.
Regarding their effectiveness on the battlefield, the CV 90 has received positive feedback on its mobility, armor protection and combat effectiveness in real warfare. The operations in Afghanistan are a case in point. Several countries, including Norway and the Netherlands, used CV 90s in Afghanistan. They provided infantry support, conducted reconnaissance, and participated in combat operations. These vehicles also participated in peacekeeping missions.
How many of them are there in Ukraine and why they will become the Armed Forces' main IFVs
The Strf 90 is one of the best armored personnel carriers currently available on the armored vehicle market. Even before the full-scale war, the Ukrainian Armed Forces intended to replace the Soviet BMP-1 and BMP-2 with something more modern. Such plans were announced back in 2020. Experts compared different models and, in particular, Ukrainian developments, but concluded that Swedish BMPs could be the best option for the Armed Forces. In January 2023, the Swedish government agreed to provide Ukraine with about 50 CV 90 vehicles and several Archer self-propelled guns. The Ukrainian Armed Forces received a modified version of the CV9040C. This modification is used to support infantry and fight armored vehicles. This model has a larger gun caliber (40 mm), which allows it to overcome armored targets more effectively. At the end of June, Strf 90s were used by the Ukrainian Armed Forces in the fighting near Bakhmut.
On June 15, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia signed a memorandum of intent to cooperate in the purchase and operation of the CV90 infantry fighting vehicle during a regular Ramstein meeting. At that time, the talk was about 1,000 of these infantry fighting vehicles. The defense giant BAE Systems, which developed these vehicles, will open an office in Ukraine to start repairing and manufacturing weapons and military equipment. During President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy's working visit to Sweden on August 19, 2023, a declaration of intent was signed on the joint production and maintenance of Swedish CV90 infantry fighting vehicles.
"CV90 is a highly effective and modern combat vehicle, Ukraine and Sweden are convinced that further cooperation on the CV90 platform will be mutually beneficial. Thus, this statement of intent demonstrates the desire of Ukraine and Sweden to strengthen cooperation on the production, operation, training of operators and maintenance of the CV90 platform," the President's Office said.
All of this tells us that in the near future, the Ukrainian Armed Forces are expecting a qualitative upgrade and transition to Swedish combat vehicles. As for the price, such an upgrade could cost about USD 10 billion. Of course, it will not be possible to produce 1,000 vehicles in a month or even a year, so this project may take years, but in the long run it can significantly increase the combat power of the Armed Forces and help Ukraine defeat the Russian enemy.