BMD-4 (BMD-3M) Airborne Infantry Fighting Vehicle
The BMD-4 is the latest modification of an armored combat vehicle that can be para-dropped into situations to provide firepower and support for airborne troops. It features an advanced fire control system and a considerable ammunition load, but its main advantage is that it can hit targets with high precision up to 7km (4 miles) away regardless of whether the vehicle is stationary or on the move, on land or in water.
Established on the basis of the BMD-3, the BMD-4 «Bahcha» has considerably more firepower and better armor protection. The designers changed the form of an aluminum shell of Ultra aluminum armor, and the Tula armorers in addition to the 30-mm automatic gun turret available on the BMD-3, placed in a new 100-mm machine gun, which can simultaneously serve as a launcher anti-missiles (PTUR). The BMD-4 machine is said to have no analogs in the militaries of other countries. This is the only machine in the world that can be dropped with parachute. For that purpose it was made from a light dural alloy. The idea of using this equipment is sudden attacking maneuver from behind the enemy's positions. It's exterior resembles that of BMD-3 but with a number of innovations; it is also equipped with a 100-mm canon.
This is a tracked, armored, floating, airborne vehicle for landing with airborne personnel. The BMD-4 weighs 13.6 t and features the most powerful armament among BMD AFVs and BMP IFVs. KBP has developed the fire compartment along with FCS and armament. The Bakhcha-U fire compartment comprises the following armament: the 100 mm gun - launching unit, 30 mm automatic gun, submachine gun. To ensure successful infantry offensive and defensive actions without the hard armour and artillery support, he Bakhcha-U fire compartment can be installed on BMP-2, BMP-3, BMD-3, Rostok APS chassis and other Russian and foreign vehicles of the equivalent payload capacity, as well as can equip boats, ships and stasionary firing sites.Bakhcha fighting compartments installed on assault lightly armored vehicles are in service with the Russian Army. The Bakhcha-U is provided with ammunition ready for automatic loading: 34 rounds with the Vishnya HE-F shells, 4 rounds with the Arkan ATGM, 500 pcs. of 30 mm rounds, 2000 cartridges for the PKT submachine gun. The Arkan is guided by the laser beam that ensures high immunity of its guidance system to countermeasures. The BMD-4 is capable of destroying modern tanks, air and ground-based targets, including lightly armored targets).
The rework of chassis was made with maximum usage of power-plant installation units and with BMP-3 constructive elements: power pack and the systems for servicing it, control linkages, devices for pumping out water, water jet propellers of body. In general, the unification of units, plants and systems of modernized BMD-4 chassis with the same units, plants and systems of BMP-3 is 80%, but the previous weight of vehicle was saved and concerned to the lightweight category. It allows to low production expenses and exploitation expenditure. 200 million rubles were spent for realization of the project.
The BMD-4 airborne combat vehicles have been produced since 2004. In 2005 some divisions of Russia's Airborne troops were equipped with a new kind of commando's fighting machine, the BMD-4. The new piece of equipment has no analogues in the world, informs Airborne troops Commander Alexander Kolmakov.
"To the overall appeasement of our commandos, an absolutely revolutionary new machine has been developed and sometime this year it will find its way into our divisions, stated he. According to Kolmakov, BMD-4 has no Western analogies mainly because of the fact that in addition to rather complex technical characteristics, the machine is capable of landing on its own. “Actually, all of our technical equipment possesses similar advanced characteristics; no other country in the world can claim the same," he said.
Kolmakov also stated that special alloys are used in the production of BMD-4; this in turn enables the device to be highly powerful and at the same time rather light. “The machine possess all technical characteristics one can think of: it floats, it is lightweight and powerful. It’s exterior resembles that of BMD-3 but with a number of innovations; it is also equipped with a 100-mm canon," notified Kalmakov. According to him, possession of BMD-4 will significantly enhance fighting capacity of Russia’s airborne troops.
An airborne regiment will be supplied with advanced BMD-4 airborne fighting vehicles by the end of the year, Russia's defense minister said 26 July 2006. "I am convinced that before the end of this year, an entire battalion in your division will be provided with BMD-4s," the Sergei Ivanov said addressing servicemen of the 106th Airborne Division. Speaking at the end of a tactical exercise on a test site about 200 kilometers (125 miles) southeast of Moscow, Ivanov, who is also a deputy prime minister, said the 137th Airborne Company had received eight BMD-4 AFVs in June, which had tripled its firepower.
Russian Airborne Troops Commander Col. Gen. Vladimir Shamanov expressed disappointment with the performance of the VDV’s tracked combat vehicles (they are all tracked) during the war with Georgia. His disappointment extended to the latest variant BMD-4 (armed with a 100mm gun and with better armor than the BMDs 2 and 3). The BMD-4 had first been introduced in 2004, and was slowly coming to replace the older vehicles. Shamanov’s reservation concerning any BMD variant in Georgia was their immobilization if their tracks were damaged—by mines in particular. Wheeled APCs, on the other hand, are known to be able to sustain a good deal of damage before losing overall mobility. The BMD-4 also had a problem with its engine, noted even before Georgia, which was prone to catch fire. (This same engine is also used in other Russian APCs: the BTR-90, the BMP-3, and the BMD-3.) Shamanov, warning that he would refuse to accept any more BMD-4s with its current engine, explained that the BMD-4 in Georgia did “not fully meet mobility and safety requirements."
The BMD-4 also suffered from efforts to get the right balance between portability and survivability. Shamanov had an issue with the excessive weight of the BMD-4 (15 tons) and the fact that recent upgrades of the older BMD-3s have pushed up their weight (to 13 tons). This has ripple effects in terms of their portability, amenability to being air-dropped, and overall strategic reach of the VDV. The extra weight meant that the workhorse transport aircraft, the Il-76 (NATO name Candid, can carry only two such vehicles and had its operating radius reduced (and this in an air force that also has a very poor air-to-air refueling capability.)
By the end of 2012, the Russian Airborne Troops had 123 BMD-3 and 60 BMD-4 airborne combat vehicles in service, with the rest being outdated BMD-2 models.
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