GAIA Amir is an Israeli-made Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) armored vehicle, typically used to transport personnel. It is an interesting and capable machine, which somehow now found its way to Ukraine. This is highly unusual, because Israel is still not officially supplying arms to Ukraine.
Israel is trying to maintain a somewhat neutral position during the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It is not officially supplying arms to Ukraine, but it is clear that it does support the defending European country. There has been no news regarding the transfer of the GAIA Amir vehicles to Ukraine.
However, Ukraine appears to have at least a couple of them – they’ve been spotted in the southern region of Kherson, which is being liberated from Russian occupation.
GAIA Amir MRAP is a large 4×4 vehicle with level 3 armored protection and high landmine resistance. It can carry up to 2.4 tons of cargo or people. It is usually used to carry personnel – up to 12 people – but can also be put to service as a field ambulance, cargo transporter, or reconnaissance vehicle.
Interestingly, it is built on Ford F-550 commercial chassis. This may seem like a weird choice, but it is actually a smart idea, because parts are readily available and maintenance is much easier than if some proprietary base was used.
At least a couple of GAIA Amir vehicles were spotted in Ukraine and it raised some questions – how? Israel did not formally announce any arms transfers to Ukraine. However, according to the Walla News journalist Barak Ravid, one of the European countries could have transferred the vehicles without formal approval from the Israeli government.
Israel, like any other country that produces weapons, can forbid the transfer of them to another country, even if it was some kind of purchase agreement. These principles are in place to prevent the technology from reaching the wrong hands.
פקיד ישראלי בכיר אמר לי שישראל לא נתנה אישור למכור או להעביר את הרכב המשוריין הזה לאוקראינה. לדבריו ככל הנראה מדינה אירופית שרכשה את הרכב הזה בעבר העבירה אותו לידי אוקראינה ללא אישור ישראלי https://t.co/ZMYZGDKsBg
— Barak Ravid (@BarakRavid) November 13, 2022
However, previously it was reported that Poland has purchased Israeli anti-drone system for transfer to Ukraine. This was an indirect aid to Ukraine, which allowed Israel to avoid some friction with Russia. If the same way was used now as well, Israel can claim that they are not supplying arms to Ukraine, while at the same time Ukraine gets to use advanced and highly reliable GAIA Amir MRAPs. If we had to guess, they also reached Ukraine through Poland, but there is no information about that at this point.
GAIA Amir and similar vehicles are very important, because Ukraine is a huge country and transporting soldiers from one sector of the front to the other takes a long time. Amir is quick and well-protected. These kinds of vehicles are key to successful quick Ukrainian counteroffensive operations.