A video circulating across Pro-Ukraine Telegram channels has unveiled the movement of robust military machinery, featuring a German truck hoisting a Soviet-made MDK-3 trench-digging apparatus onto its flatbed. The footage, although lacking specific details about the location in Ukraine, hints at the possible involvement of a MAN HX81 truck from Berlin as part of military aid to Kyiv, according to indications from the NMFTE Telegram channel.
The trench-digging activity showcased in the video aligns with recent reports indicating Ukraine’s initiation of its version of the “Surovkin Line.” This strategic approach involves deploying “Dragon’s teeth” – pyramid-shaped concrete structures strategically positioned to impede potential Russian advancements into specific Ukrainian territories.
These operations, encompassing trench excavation and the placement of “Dragon’s teeth,” seem to validate earlier forecasts by Western analysts. Based on their insights from the previous year, the harsh winter conditions anticipated in 2024 could create favorable circumstances for the Russian army to launch new offensive maneuvers in Ukraine.
Regarding the MDK-3, engineered for large-scale excavation and rapid armored trench construction, it boasts a formidable design. Its hydraulically descending rear-nested tiller facilitates the milling process, while the 12-cylinder W-46-4 diesel engine, positioned behind the accommodating driver’s cab for up to five occupants, delivers an impressive 710 hp and a 38.88-liter displacement. Safety is prioritized with an ABC protection and ventilation system, ensuring resilience in environments contaminated by ABC ordnance. Notably, the MDK-3 executes its excavation tasks in reverse, utilizing a structure based on seven pairs of rollers with a torsion bar suspension system.
MDK-3 Operational Efficiency
The milling operation’s efficiency is contingent upon soil type, typically achieving a productivity range of 50 to 100 meters per hour. In a single pass, the MDK-3 can reach a depth of 1.75 meters, extending to a maximum depth of 3.5 meters, effectively depositing loose materials. The trench’s width measures 3.5 meters. Under optimal soil conditions, a single step can achieve a depth of approximately two meters and a pit width of up to 3.50 meters, resulting in an output of nearly 200 meters per hour. Consequently, the MDK-3 has the capability to excavate up to 800 m³ of material per hour. Additionally, equipped with a dozer blade, it is adept at filling trenches, cavities, or scraping a frozen topsoil layer of around 75 cm.
MDK-3 Engineering Features
Engineered for both the engineering and civil defense units of the USSR’s Armed Forces, the MDK-3 is an advanced iteration of the MDK-2M on the multi-purpose, heavy MT-T tractor. With a rotating mill featuring a thrower, the MDK-3 exhibits exceptional efficiency. This combat vehicle comes with an adaptable dozer blade and a cultivator. The hermetically sealed crew cabin, accommodating up to five individuals, ensures optimal safety.
MAN HX81 Tank Transporter
Developed collaboratively by MAN and Rheinmetall, the HX81 tank transporter represents an evolution from the MAN HX77 and SX45 high-mobility trucks. Referred to as the SLT-2 Mammut by the German Army, or sometimes as the SLT-70, these robust tank transporters were instrumental in Ukraine’s defense against the Russian invasion in 2023.
Functional Capabilities of MAN HX81
When equipped with an armored cab, the weight of the MAN HX81 transporter increases to an impressive 27 tons. With a remarkable towing capacity of up to 73 tons and a gross combined weight of 130 tons, it excels at effortlessly towing semi-trailers loaded with main battle tanks, self-propelled artillery systems, construction materials, and other substantial military cargoes. Notably, its versatility extends beyond paved roads, allowing it to navigate remote areas and challenging terrains with ease.
MAN HX81 Trailer Compatibility
Outfitted to work with three different Doll semi-trailer models, each offering unique performances, the MAN HX81 accommodates a 30-ton capacity semi-trailer, showcasing versatility in handling commercial vehicles, wheeled armored vehicles, and standard 20″ and 40″ ISO containers.
Enhanced Trailer Options:
For those requiring increased capabilities, an available semi-trailer with a 50-ton capacity is poised to meet more demanding transport needs. This robust transporter is specifically configured for the carriage of tracked armored vehicles. Additionally, the largest among the three options is a 70-ton off-road-capable trailer designed expressly for transporting main battle tanks and other heavy-duty equipment, effortlessly accommodating even the latest Leopard 2A7 Main Battle Tanks.
MAN HX81 Cab Features
Picture a prime mover with a cabin designed to comfortably house the driver and three additional passengers – precisely what the MAN HX81 provides. What distinguishes it is the integrated armored cabin, meticulously crafted by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann. Beyond its robustness, the cabin’s distinctive construction, weighing 4.5 tons, sets it apart.
The armored cabin serves not only as a deterrent but actively safeguards occupants. It provides effective protection against 7.62×51 mm armor-piercing bullets, shields from artillery shell splinters, and withstands an 8 kg anti-tank mine blast. This level of protection is not just commendable; it is potentially life-saving in critical situations.
Exceptional Design Features
The extraordinary design includes a roof hatch with an integrated mount for a machine gun. For those seeking an upgrade, the vehicle can be equipped with a remotely controlled weapon station capable of handling a heavy 12.7 mm machine gun or a 40 mm automatic grenade launcher. Highlighting its superior design, it’s noteworthy that all HX81 tank transporters produced for the German Army come standard with this fortified cabin.