Exports of Russian BMP-3 IFVs exceed 1 000 vehicles

According to the official catalogue of the Kurgan Machine-building Plant (Kurganmashzavod, a subsidiary of Rostec’s holding High-Precision Weapons), since the beginning of the BMP-3’s mass production, more than 1,000 vehicles have been delivered to foreign customers, including the United Arab Emirates [UAE], Kuwait, South Korea, the Republic of Cyprus, Azerbaijan, and Indonesia.
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BMP-3M IFV/ICV protected by slat armor, displayed at Army-2019 defense forum near Kubinka (Picture source: Army Recognition)

Compared to the original vehicle that broke its cover during the Victory Day parade in Moscow on May 9, 1990, the current BMP-3 has passed through an intensive upgrade. Moreover, the vehicle’s manufacturer Kurganmashzavod, has turned the infantry combat vehicle (ICV) into a modular platform with several modernization kits. The gunner’s sight can be fitted with the AST-B automatic target tracking system, while the commander’s workseat can carry a panoramic sight and the TKN-AI observation device with a laser active-impulse illuminating subsystem. The driver’s sensor suite can be reinforced with the TVK-1B multipurpose observation device. The automatic loading mechanism, the IUSSh-688 information-management system, the EPVO electronic assistant for driver and gunner, the KBM-3M2E air condition or the autonomous air conditioner — power unit are among other upgrades.

The BMP-3 organically carries with the Sodema sighting system with a thermal imager. The baseline BMP-3 has been fitted with a powerful armament suite combining 2A70 100 mm low-velocity main gun with an anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) system, a coaxial 2A72 30 mm automatic cannon, one coaxial turret mounting and two hull-mounted forward-firing Kalashnikov PKTM 7.62 mm general-purpose machinegun. The ICV’s ammunition load comprises 40 100mm rounds (including 22 ready-to-use projectiles in the autoloader), 8 ATGMs, 500 30mm rounds, and 6,000 7.62mm cartridges.

The BMP-3’s hull and turret are made of aluminum armor. The most vulnerable points have been protected with spaced armor. The basic platform carries no additional protection; however, the updated BMP-3M carries side-mounted protective screens and bar/slat armour elements that protect both hull and turret against high-explosive anti-tank projectiles.

The BMP-3 is powered by a 450-hp UTD-29T diesel engine that is coupled to a hydromechanical transmission. This powerpack allows the platform to reach a road speed of 70 km/h and a swimming speed of up to 9.5 km/h. The UTD-29T and water jets provide the ICV with high swimming capacities. In order to fit naval infantry forces with a swimming platform that is capable to fire on-the-move.

Since its development, the original BMP-3 features a high proportion between weight and firepower. The BMP-3 is also a modular platform and can carry a large number of existing combat station, both manned and unmanned; however, it is the Russian modules produced by the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) that make the vehicle so effective. The installation of other combat station will definitely drop the firepower capacities of the system.

The BMP-3 has become one of the most renowned Russian-designed military vehicles. In 2015, the U.S.-based RAND Corporation said the BMP-3 “has the highest power-to-weight ratio” of the vehicles examined by the entity. “It has low ground pressure and is also amphibious. It is also relatively unique among ICVs in its incorporation of a rear location of the power-pack compartment, which improves its ride quality and weight balance,” said the experts of the RAND Corporation. The specialists also praised the BMP-3’s armament suite. “This is the heaviest armament of any ICV, though the BMP-3’s primary anti-tank capability comes from its ATGM capability,” they added. The BMP-3 features open architecture and can be fitted with foreign-made subsystems.

The modernization of the baseline BMP-3 allows increasing its firepower capacities and introducing the vehicle into a command control communication computer and intelligence (C4I) system. At that the updated ICV turns into a digitalized platform that requires operator to be trained with the use of modern simulators. It is noteworthy that Russia has integrated the BMP-3 with a cutting-edge simulator that allows training all operators of the platform.

In late September, Kurganmashzavod reported the completion of a state defense order (Gosoboronzakaz, GOZ) for the BMP-3. “The final batch of the BMP-3 vehicles under the implemented order is planned to be delivered to the Western Military District”, the press department of the plant said in a statement on September 18.

At the same time, the United Arab Emirates’ EDGE military-industrial consortium has developed a 3D model of the BMP-3 in order to ease its maintenance. The model was unveiled at IDEX 2019 defense show. It should be mentioned that the UAE remains the largest foreign user of the BMP-3, and a part of the UAE’s BMP-3 inventory has passed through upgrades.

The Russian marines will get the amphibious version of the BMP-3, designated BMP-3F.

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