Iraq has received the first 26 of 420 Ukraine-built BTR-4 armoured personnel carriers (APC), as part of a $2.5bn Iraqi Defence Ministry contract for procurement of arms and weapons for its modern armed forces.

Under the contract, Iraq will receive most of the weapons systems and equipment from the US, Russia, Serbia, France and Ukraine.

The 4t 8×8 BTR-4 vehicle, a variant of the Russian BTR-80 wheeled APC, has amphibious capabilities and can carry a three-man crew and eight soldiers.

The vehicle is immune to rocket-propelled grenades, carries a 30mm autocannon, a 7.62mm machine gun and a 30mm grenade launcher, or two anti-tank missiles.

The United Press Trust has reported US military analyst DJ Elliott as saying that the BTR-4s could be assigned to Iraqi special operations forces strike units.

The second shipment of 62 vehicles is scheduled for September this year, with the total delivery of APCs expected to be complete by the end of 2012.

Ukraine also hopes to sell an unspecified number of advanced T-84 Oplot main battle tanks to Iraq.