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BMD-1 Airborne Infantry Fighting Vehicle

The BMD airborne amphibious infantry combat vehicle (AAICV) superficially resembles the BMP, although it is considerably smaller. The BMD-1 can be air dropped by parachute, and features a suspension that "squats" to fit into aircraft. It is a full-tracked amphibious vehicle with a BMP-type turret. Like the BMP, its main armament is a 73-mm smoothbore gun with a 7.62-mm coaxial machine gun mounted on the right side of the main gun and a SAGGER ATGM launcher mounted over the gun. The BMD, however, also has two additional 7.62-mm machine guns, one mounted in each of the front bow corners. The bow is much shorter than that of the BMP, and the upper part of the hull is shaped differently. It also differs from the BMP in having only five evenly spaced road wheels with four support rollers, and in having no rear exit doors. The driver's hatch and vision blocks are centered below the main gun. On either side of the driver, there is an additional hatch. The troop compartment has overhead armor cover and only one firing port on each side and one in the rear from which the mounted infantrymen can fire their personal weapons. The BMD has a hydro-pneumatic suspension with a variable height capability. The vehicle is powered by a rear-mounted, 240 hp, six-cylinder, water-cooled, diesel engines and is propelled in water by two waterjets in the rear.

The air-droppable BMD is considerably smaller and lighter than the BMP but has roughly the same capabilities. It is used in airborne divisions as an infantry combat vehicle. Its turret armor (maximum 25 mm) is thicker than that of the' BMP, but its hull is thinner (maximum 15 mm). An internal NBC filtration system provides protection for the three-man crew and four combat troops. Two squad members, including the squad leader, ride in the two hatch positions on each side of the driver, while the remaining three occupy the compartment between the turret and engine. The BMD is believed to have a maximum speed of 60 to 80 km/h on land and 10 km/h in water, with a land cruising range of 320 km.

Since the BMD has the same turret as the BMP, the turret armaments probably have the same limitations, except that the BMD does not have a dead space in its traverse. The passenger space is somewhat cramped, and the airborne soldiers must dismount over the sides of the vehicles, since there is no rear door.

The BMD was first seen in the Dvina exercise in the USSR in 1970 and was not seen again until the November 1973 Moscow Red Square parade. Since then, the BMD has replaced the airborne assault gun ASU-57 in the Soviet airborne forces, substantially increasing the firepower and maneuverability of the airborne division.

Although originally thought to be a light tank, the BMD may more properly be considered the airborne equivalent of the BMP infantry combat vehicle. However, except for the turret and main armament, it is an entirely new design and not a modified BMP. Excluding the obsolescent ASU-57, the BMD, at approximately 7.5 metric tons, was the lightest tracked combat vehicle in the Soviet Army.

Russian KBP offers a drop-in one-man turret, called Kliver, with a stabilized 2A72 30-mm gun, a 4-Kornet ATGM launcher, thermal sights, and improved fire control system. The Russian Volgorod Tractor Plant offers the B30 turret (a drop-in one-man turret with 2A42 30-mm gun, 7.62-mm coax MG, and a 9P135M launcher for AT-4/-5 ATGM). A Russian AG-17 30-mm automatic grenade launcher is available for BMD-1. Other options are spall liners, air conditioning, and a more powerful engine. A French SNPE explosive reactive armor (ERA) kit and others are available for use on the BMD-1. However, during dismounted troop movement, ERA would be a hazard. Thus, passive armor is more likely; and ERA application is doubtful. For amphibious use, additional armor application is unlikely. The Slovenian TS-M ATGM thermal night sight has a detection range of 4,500m and a recognition range of 2,000m. The AT-3 HE-Blast ATGM is used for killing personnel and destroying bunkers and other fortifications. The AT-3C Polk features a nose probe, an improved motor for increased velocity, lower smoke noise signature and a SACLOS launcher with improved sights.


The basic BMD was initially introduced around 1970. Between then and about 1973, it underwent a variety of minor product-improvement modifications. The final design, designated BMD-1, is most readily identified by a dome-shaped NBC filter intake on the right-center hull roof. The BMD-1 has retained the protection, mobility, and firepower characteristics of the BMD.

  • BMD Ml979/1 variant is an airborne-associated general purpose vehicle which was first observed during the 1979 Soviet Afghanistan incursion. The chassis of the M1979/1 has been lengthened by approximately 60 mm with the addition of one road wheel and one support roller per side. The BMD turret and its integral armaments have been removed and replaced by a low, flat superstructure. There are at least two firing ports per side, and the bow machine guns have been retained. The collective NBC protection system is also present. M1979/1 is a general-purpose vehicle which may be used as a personnel carrier, a prime mover for support weapons, a maintenance support vehicle, or a security or route-control vehicle. Originally, the designation BMD M1979/2 was associated with some of these roles, but now is assessed to be the same vehicle as the M1979/1.
  • BMD Ml979/3 variant is a command and control vehicle which differs from the M 1979/1 by the addition of folding antenna masts.
  • BMD M1981/1 variant has a two-man turret mounting a 30-mm automatic cannon. Since it is assessed to have the same turret armament as the BMP M1981, it probably also mounts AT-4/SPIGOT or AT-5/SPANDREL ATGM.
  • BMD-1K: Command IFV (FSU), with added R-126 and R-107.
  • BMD-1M: Variant with improved ventilation and road wheels.
  • BMD-1P: Widely fielded IFV with AT-4/5 replacing AT-3.
  • BMD-1PK: Company commander variant (FSU) of BMD-1P.
  • BMD-2: Widely fielded variant with a 30-mm automatic gun and with
  • AT-3 ATGM launcher replaced by AT-4/5 ATGM launcher.
  • BTR-D: Stretched (6-road wheel) armored multipurpose transporter
  • variant, with two 7.62-mm MGs but no turret. This chassis has been
  • used for a variety of other airborne vehicles.

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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 13:14:57 ZULU