The Saur 3 (also "TBT 8x8") is an 8x8 wheeled Armored Fighting Vehicle being developed for the Romanian Army by the local concern of Automecanica Moreni (UA Moreni). The vehicle competes with Western European offerings like the Finnish Patria AMV and others designed around a modular approach to fulfilling multiple battlefield roles with a single vehicle. These types of products allow customers to outfit their vehicles with appropriate mission armament, communications kits, and sensor equipment to suit the mission need. The Saur 3 is set to provide up to STANAG 3 level protection for its occupants, allow for various armament types to be fitted (including Remote Weapon Stations (RMSs)), and be powered by a German MTU diesel engine of 420 horsepower output. The vehicle has an estimated road speed of 65 miles per hour on roads and will be fully amphibious, treading water by use of waterjets at speeds reaching just over 6 miles per hour. Nuclear, Biological, Chemical (NBC) protection will be standard.
In its standard guise, the Saur 3 will feature a standard operating crew of three - driver, commander, and gunner. The typical internal arrangement will seat the driver at front-left with the commander directly behind and the gunner under the central portion of the hull roof. At the rear of the hull will be the fighting compartment with bench seating for up to eight combat-ready infantry. A large, powered rectangular door at the rear hull face will provide the appropriate exit/entry measure and serve as the embarking/disembarking ramp when fully lowered. A smaller rectangular door will be seated into this large panel for more protected exiting. Roof hatches along the rear hull roof will also allow occupants to engage with personal weapons as needed. The driver's position will be at the typical front-left placement with the engine to his immediate right. A grille will be featured along the right side of the sloping glacis plate over the engine installation. Periscopes at each primary crew position will provide the necessary situational awareness when the vehicle is fully "buttoned" down.
The standard armament fitting will be a fully-powered, remotely-actuated turret system that could field a variety of capable autocannons (25mm Oerlikon with 7.62mm coaxial mg), machine guns (12.7mm DShK), automatic grenade launchers, field mortars (120mm) or a perhaps mixed set (machine gun with grenade launcher for example). Additionally, the turret may also support Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) launchers for an even heftier battlefield punch -particularly against armored threats such as tanks. Smoke grenade dischargers will be standard. Surface-to-air missile launchers are also in the scope of the project.
As with other 8x8 armored vehicles of this class, the Saur 3 will take on battlefield roles beyond that of direct enemy contact. Its chassis is expected to appear in MEDEVAC, Armored Recovery Vehicle (ARV), command vehicle, and data collection forms (the latter in case of nuclear war).
The Romanian move to design, develop, and produce a local AFV solution is intended to revitalized Romanian military industry as well as promote less reliance on its usual military suppliers - historically the Soviet Union/Russia. The direction of an 8x8 wheeled vehicle is also an industry-wide shift away from the typical tracked solutions seen throughout the Cold War. Wheeled vehicles have proven cheaper to produce and maintain in number and are far less complex in operation and repair while showcasing better road speeds and increased tactical flexibility (at the expense of armor protection). Indeed, several European armies have given up on tanks altogether, focusing defense budgets on more cost-effective solutions such as modular, wheeled carriers like the Saur 3. The introduction of the Saur 3 will also put the Romanian Army more in line with other NATO participants - it became a member of NATO on March 29th, 2004 after decades of alignment with the Soviet Union through the Warsaw Pact (1955-1991).
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