The Soviet Vityaz Was the Big Dog of the Cold War

Take the all-terrain capabilities of the US Army's new packbot, add the uncanny reliability of a Kalishnakov and some tank treads—Boom! You've got yourself an unstoppable killing machine cargo transporter.

The Vityaz Articulated Track Vehicle (ATV) is a dual-treaded transport designed to carry military hardware over difficult terrain and through extreme weather conditions. The Vityaz measured 35-feet long, nearly 9-feet tall, and weighed between 10 tons for the DT-10P and 30 tons for the larger DT-30's. These ATV's are built as sealed, all-welded units, which makes them water-tight and allows for amphibious operations.

A 12-cylinder, 710HP multi-fuel engine powers its four sets of rubberised-fabric band tracks. This vehicle was so powerful that it could still operate even if two tracks failed. In all, the Vityaz ATV can haul up to 30 tons of cargo, also span ditches and road breaks up to 13 feet wide, and operate in altitudes in excess of 13,000 feet. And since the ATV's weight is so spread out among its four treads—0.22 kg/cm, less than a person—the Vityaz doesn't generally set off land mines.

The USSR began designing the Vityaz in the early 1960's when the existing single-track transports proved unable to carry over 5 tons of payload. By 1981, Vityaz-class transports entered active service and were deployed to the harshest climates in the Soviet Bloc, from Siberian tundras to arid desert regions. They were originally put to use as rescue vehicles and ICBM platforms. More recently, the carriers have found use in the Arctic and Antarctica hauling scientific equipment over the permafrost as well as recovery vehicles. [Vityaz Wiki - English Russia - Military Forces.Ru - Notes of a Russian Soldier]

Image: Sergey Riabsev / Wikipedia