Slovak Defence Minister Peter Gajdoš handed 21 upgraded infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) to Lieutenant General Daniel Zmeko, the chief of defence staff, at the end of May.
The Slovak Ministry of Defence (MoD) said the vehicles were handed over to the ISTAR Battalion in Prešov and 10 to mechanised units.
Lt Gen Zmeko said the upgraded vehicles would increase the capabilities of the Slovak ISTAR Battalion, especially its reconnaissance company.
Gajdoš expected the upgrade to extend the lifetime of the IFVs by at least 20 years at a lower cost than procuring new vehicles.
The Slovak MoD said a total of 35 upgraded IFVs would be delivered and that some were already being used for training and preparation.
The upgrade is being performed by Slovak company Konštrukta Defence. The company told Jane’s the vehicles being upgraded are BMP-1 Svatava IFVs, a modernised version of the BMP-1 dating from the 1980s. The upgrade involved the complete overhaul of the chassis and installation of an EVPU TURRA-30 turret with a remote control weapon system (RCWS). The turret is fitted with a fire control system, laser warning system, smoke grenades, commander observation and aiming sight day TV camera, thermal camera and laser range finder. The vehicle received an inertial navigation system, air conditioning, independent heating unit, fire suppression system, new inner and outer lighting system. A new communications and information system has been integrated, and the crew members have new seats and improved observation devices. The vehicles have received further mechanical modifications to carry new equipment and devices.
The ISTAR version is designated Bojové prieskumné vozidlo ISTAR (Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle, BPsVI) and is specially equipped for ISTAR, with a crew consisting of the commander, driver, gunner, scout/observer, with two more seats for crew members.
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