The “Berkut” snowmobile has a heated cab and can tow soldiers on skis.
One of the Russian Army’s newest ground vehicles is also its smallest. The TTM-1901 “Berkut” snowmobile is designed to support Russian forces operating north of the Arctic Circle. The snowmobile will have a starring role in Russia’s upcoming annual Victory in Europe Day parade as Moscow shows off new cold weather weapons and vehicles.
In the city of Nizhny Novgorod, east of Moscow, is a company called NPO Transport. NPO Transport builds a variety of tracked, tank-like snow machines, mostly for arctic oil exploration and exploitation. If you want prime movers that can get cranes, drilling rigs, and pumping units into remote, cold parts of the world by land, NPO Transport is your go-to.
NPO Transport also builds the TTM-1901 snowmobile. The TTM-1901 is a combination snowmobile and jeep, with the company describing it as, “designed for servicing and visual inspection of main pipelines, power transmission lines, communication links. It is also can be used for guarding facilities and hunting.”
The TTM-1901 is powered by a Lada engine driving a pair of tracks in the rear. It has a top speed of 37 miles an hour and a range of 124 miles. The deadly little snow crawler has a cabin built for two, and can carry three soldiers in the rear or drag 600 pounds of cargo. The snowmobile is built from composite materials on a metal frame, lowering overall weight. The suspension is designed to give a smooth ride, particularly to towed cargos and troops on skis.
Recently drafted into Russian Ground Forces’ service, the TTM-1901 is nicknamed the “Berkut,” or Golden Eagle. The Russian Army uses it for hauling small loads of supplies, giving a lift to a trio of soldiers, or even towing troops on cross-country skis across the frozen wasteland.
The Berkut has two features that make it stand out from other snowmobiles: one is a two-person heated cabin, and the other is a pintle mount for a 7.62-millimeter PKP Pecheneg medium machine gun, which a gunner on the back can fire while on the move. The Pecheneg can lay down fire at rates of up to 650 rounds per minute, firing 100 to 200 round belts, out to ranges of 1,600 yards.
The Russian government is making a big push into the arctic, intent on securing the rich bounty of natural resources under the snow and ice. So far, just a handful of arctic oil fields are home to hundreds of millions of barrels of oil, and the Russian government is spending $414 million between 2021 and 2025 on oil and gas equipment and technology to support energy exploration and development in the arctic.
Hand in hand with a plan to exploit those resources is another plan to defend them. Russia is building bases across the arctic and investing in new equipment for snow fighting. A graphic from the upcoming V-E Day parade shows the arctic gear contingent will consist of one BTR-82A wheeled armored personnel carrier, two Berkuts loaded on the back of Kamaz flatbed trucks, and four Tor-M2DT tracked short range air defense missile systems.