Kenya and Bangladesh will be the first recipients of armoured vehicles produced by a new factory in Serbia. It is believed that the two countries will receive the locally developed Lazar BVT mine-resistant, ambush protected vehicle.
Serbian Defence Minister Aleksandar Vucic met with Russian Deputy Premier Dmitry Rogozin last week to discuss military cooperation, which may see the two countries build 57 and 155 mm ammunition. Russian manufacturers provide components for armoured vehicles Serbia plans to produce for its own military as well as for Kenya and Bangladesh. “We both have the will and the money to invest in Serbia,” said Rogozin.
The new factory will be established with 130 employees before the end of 2013 in Velika Plana, Serbia, Vucic said. It will build several variants of armoured vehicles. Last year the state-owned Yugoimport arms export agency received a contract for 18 Nora B-52 155 mm self-propelled howitzers to the Bangladesh Army. It has been reported that Kenya has also bought the Nora artillery system.
It is presumed that the armoured vehicles that will be delivered to Kenya are the Yugoimport Lazar BVTs, developed by the Serbian Military Technology Institute to meet local and export requirements. The first prototype was completed in 2008. The vehicle has a crew of three (commander, driver and gunner) and can carry ten fully equipped troops. These have firing ports and sit in seats attached to the roof, which reduces the risk of injury in case the vehicle hits a mine.
With regard to armament, a wide variety of weapons can be fitted in a remotely controlled overhead weapon station or light turret, including 7.62 mm and 12.7 mm machineguns and 20 mm and 30 mm cannons or an automatic grenade launcher.
Kenya makes extensive use of armoured vehicles, especially due to its combat operations in Somalia. Last month it was announcedd that South African expeditionary and tactical equipment manufacturer Osprea Logistics has established a factory in the Kenyan coastal town of Mombasa to produce its Mamba Mk5 armoured personnel carriers. Osprea plans to produce more than a hundred Mamba Mk 5 vehicles in the first year of production.
Over 200 South African-made Mamba APCs are in use in Somalia. The Mamba is a sturdily designed vehicle which is suited for combat operations in desert and other remote locations and has been widely used in Iraq.
Yugoimport is no stranger to Africa: in November 2010 Yugoimport and ammunition makers Krusik a.d., Sloboda a.d., and Prvi Partizan a.d., were awarded a US$400 million contract to build three military factories in Northern Africa. These companies have received various defence contracts from Libya, Egypt and Algeria.