Berkut TTM-1901-40 snowmobile (TASS)

Russia’s Minature War Snowmobile

One of the most interesting pieces of military equipment showcased during the annual Russian Victory Parade, celebrating victory over Nazi Germany in 1945, was the Berkut-2 snowmobile.

The Berkuts, equipped with a PKP Pecheneg 6P41 machine gun and painted in winter camouflage, were paraded on the back of trucks through Moscow’s city streets as part of the Mobile Column during the parade on 9 May.

Oka road car
A 2007-2008 production SeAz-11116 Oka (Wikimedia)

Mechanically and electrically simple and easy to maintain the snowmobiles are powered by an 80 horsepower engine the Berkut-2 has a range of 125 miles and more than a passing resemblance to the Lada Oka (VAZ-1111), a budget micro car, designed by AvtoVAZ in the late 1970s. This is because the Berkut uses Oka bodies and is a development from the civilian TTM-1901 Golden Eagle snowmobile. The mini snow-borne war wagons are built by NPO Transport based in Nizhny Novgorod.

Berkut in the snow
Berkut-2 In Action in the Arctic with several troops carried behind the cab (TASS)

The Berkut-2, or TTM-1901-40, is an extremely simple vehicle consisting of a small heated 2-man cab built atop a set of forward articulated sleds and tracks in the rear. A PKP GPMG can be mounted just behind the cab but there is no armour to protect the gunner or cab. The Berkut’s small size and light weight, just 900kg or just under 2,000 lbs, make it ideal for rapid transport aboard trucks or transport aircraft.

Berkut 2 2018 parade
Berkut TTM-1901-40 snowmobile during 2018 Victory Parade (TASS)

Highly versatile, the snowmobiles can tow up to 650 lb or 295 kg – either equipment or troops on skis/sleds pulled by tether. The cabs are heated and can support operations in temperatures as low as -55F or -50C. The vehicles are ideal for patrolling or transporting troops to difficult, heavily wooded areas, when insertion on foot or by air are impractical.

This video from the Russian Ministry of Defense shows the Berkut-2 in action:

The snowmobiles are a part of Russia’s renewed interest in the Arctic region with the refurbishment and reactivation of former bases in the Russian Arctic Circle. The importance of this small, simple vehicle is marked by its first appearance at this year’s Victory Parade.

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