The risk of a massive nuclear missile strike of a potential enemy made special demands on the organization of command and control of troops and civilian structures. Protected command posts and special command and staff vehicles were required. An interesting variant of special equipment for commanders and leaders was created within the framework of the Ladoga military-technical cooperation project.
An order for the development of a promising highly secure vehicle (VTS) appeared at the very end of the seventies. The development of the military-technical cooperation was entrusted to KB-3 of the Leningrad Kirovsky plant. The project manager was the deputy general designer of KB-3 V. I. Mironov. In 1982, in order to continue work on military-technical cooperation, a special design unit, KB-A, was created as part of KB-3.
There were special requirements for the new car. It was supposed to be based on existing components and have maximum unification with serial equipment. At the same time, it was required to provide a high level of protection and the ability to work in conditions of radiation, chemical and biological contamination. The customer demanded to organize an ergonomic and comfortable habitable compartment with a developed set of communication means. In fact, it was a command and staff vehicle with a number of characteristic features for a top-level command.
The promising model received the designation VTS "Ladoga". The basis for such a vehicle was taken from the used serial chassis of the main T-80 tank. Some of the units of the tank were borrowed in their original form, while other units had to be developed anew. Within the framework of the Ladoga project, a number of design solutions were proposed and implemented that had not previously been used in the creation of domestic armored vehicles, which made it possible to obtain the desired results.
The basic tank chassis retained the main hull parts, but lost the turret plate and the internal units of the fighting compartment. Instead, a superstructure-wheelhouse was mounted to accommodate new equipment and crew jobs. The superstructure was made of armored steel and provided some protection. From the inside, the habitable compartment had an anti-neutron lining.
The "Ladoga" used a gas turbine engine GTD-1250 with a capacity of 1250 hp. The engine was equipped with a dust blowing system from the blades, which simplified its operation in contaminated areas and subsequent decontamination. The transmission remains the same. An electrical unit in the form of a compact GTE and an 18 kW generator was placed on the left fender. This product was supposed to provide power to the systems in the parking lot.
The design of the undercarriage did not change and was completely borrowed from the T-80. The six-wheel chassis with torsion bar suspension showed high mobility characteristics and did not need to be improved.
The inhabited compartment was divided by a wall into two compartments. In the forward part of the hull there was a control department with two workstations, incl. with a driver's post. Access to the compartment was provided by two roof hatches and a manhole into the main compartment. The hatches were equipped with a set of viewing instruments for driving day and night.
The main part of the manned compartment, placed inside the superstructure, was intended for passengers represented by representatives of the high command. Several comfortable chairs, tables, etc. were intended for them. The vehicle was entered through a hatch at the rear of the left side of the superstructure. It had a large flap and a drop-down ramp with steps.
The passengers had at their disposal developed communication facilities for various purposes. According to some reports, Ladoga's equipment even provided control over strategic nuclear forces. The crew also received advanced surveillance equipment. At least one PTS sample received a mast with video cameras for all-round viewing. This device was placed on the roof of the superstructure, and the video signal was transmitted to internal monitors.
Of particular interest were the standard means of intercom. The MTC crew and the command used a tank intercom and headsets. However, instead of massive fabric headsets, specially designed ones made of good leather were used. They were intended for both the crew and the transported command.
Much attention was paid to collective defense against weapons of mass destruction. In addition to standard solutions typical for domestic armored vehicles, some new ideas were used. So, depending on the situation, the air supply could be carried out from a filtering unit or from a separate cylinder installed at the stern of the superstructure. Inside and outside the hull, various means were installed to monitor the situation and take measurements. The protected compartment contained a supply of water and food. With its help, the crew could hold out for 48 hours.
In terms of its dimensions, the VTS "Ladoga" hardly differed from the base main tank, but its weight was reduced to 42 tons. The running characteristics remained at the same level. A special armored vehicle could move on roads and rough terrain and overcome obstacles. Whether the installation of equipment for underwater driving was envisaged is unknown.
"Ladoga" on trials
In the first half of the eighties, the first prototype of the Ladoga military-technical complex was built at LKZ and was taken out for testing. The equipment was tested in different areas and in different conditions. The Karakum Desert, the Kopet Dagh and Tien Shan mountain ranges, as well as some areas of the Far North, have become landfills for technology. The prototype successfully passed the designated routes and maintained the required conditions inside the protected area.
A new stage of testing and checking equipment in the most difficult conditions began in the spring of 1986 and was associated with the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. In early May, "Ladoga" with the tail number "317" was transferred from Leningrad to Kiev. Then the car went to the scene of the accident. The highly protected vehicle and its crew were to carry out reconnaissance of the terrain, as well as to show the capabilities of technology in conditions of radiation contamination.
The operation of the VTS "Ladoga" in the accident zone was carried out by a special detachment, which included the crew of the vehicle, sanitation and dosimetry services, as well as doctors and support specialists. On some PTS flights, representatives of the governing bodies joined the crew.
"Ladoga" performed quite complex work. She had to survey various parts of the terrain, making observations and taking measurements. Video filming of objects was carried out, simplifying the planning of work. The military-technical cooperation operated both at a distance from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, and directly on it, incl. in the destroyed machine room.
Such operation of the Ladoga military-technical cooperation continued until the beginning of autumn. Then the car went through a thorough decontamination, and on September 14 it was sent back to Leningrad. Later "Ladoga" No. 317 was used as a platform for various studies and experiments. After operation in the accident zone, the armored vehicle remained in good technical condition, although work in the contaminated area left its traces.
According to various sources, the Ladoga product was built in a small series. During the eighties, LKZ produced no more than 4-5 of these machines, including a prototype for testing in different regions of the country. Unfortunately, detailed information about the construction and operation of such equipment - with the exception of the "317" board - is not yet available.
Apparently, the role of the military-technical cooperation led to a lack of information. Ladoga was intended to serve the country's top military and political leadership, and such work does not allow publishing too much information. From time to time, various fragmentary information about the operation or basing of such equipment appears, but it is not possible to draw up a complete picture.
To the delight of fans of military equipment, one of the recently released VTS "Ladoga" is now a public museum exhibit. At the end of July, an armored vehicle with hull numbers "104/180" arrived at the branch of the "Patriot" park in the city of Kamensk-Shakhtinsky (Rostov region) and became part of its exposition.
For one reason or another, the museum "Ladoga" is currently in an unsatisfactory state. Some units are missing, the internal equipment of the habitable compartment has been removed, there are numerous damage to both the paint and the structure itself. Hopefully, the new owners will pay enough attention to the unique car, and in the future it will look the same as after leaving the assembly shop.
There is no exact information about the condition and affiliation of other Ladoga military-technical cooperations issued yet. Perhaps they will appear in the future. Also, it cannot be ruled out that the remaining samples will eventually become museum pieces, like the already exhibited 104/180 machine.