BMP-1 (Boyevaya Mashina Pekhoty) Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) / Light Tank
The Soviet-era BMP-1 Infantry Fighting Vehicle was quite a departure from previous infantry carrier designs, incorporating performance, protection and firepower in one complete package.
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The Soviet military was first major military power to widely adopt the concept of an "armored fighting infantry carrier" through their revolutionary BMP-1 series of 1967. The type incorporated a conventional track-and-wheel design with low-profile hull and turret fitting substantial armament designed to transport combat-ready infantry in relative (armored) safety while being able to bring its own anti-infantry/tank-killing firepower to bear. The vehicle was fast enough to compete with the main mechanized force as it advanced deeper into enemy-held territory and its amphibious capabilities allowed it to traverse off-road, poorly defended areas with due diligence, thusly overwhelming even a prepared enemy such as those expected to be encountered during the Cold War across the European battlescape.
The BMP-1 was primarily developed to replace the limited BTR-50
series vehicles (in particular the BTR-50P model) to which the much improved 8x8 wheeled BTR-60
Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) was also developed in conjunction and produced on an equally large scale alongside the more technologically-laden BMP-1 family. Both vehicles went on to see considerable usage overseas and across countless conflicts dotting the Cold War decades. Despite having entered Soviet Army service in 1966, the BMP-1 was first identified by the West in November of 1967 and is now generally recognized as the first "true" Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV), classified as such due to its ability to transport troops, disembarking them and then being able to operate as a stand-alone armored fighting vehicle (AFV). Thusly the BMP-1 was something of a revolutionary hybrid design incorporating the best assets of a light-class tank with the benefits of an armored personnel carrier - essentially creating a new sub-class of armored vehicle. Contemporary Western counterparts have since gone on to include the American Bradley
, British Warrior and German Marder.
The BMP-1 designation is born of the words "Boyevaya Mashina Pekhoty 1" which translates to "Infantry Fighting Vehicle 1". Due to the limited nature of intelligence fielded by the West during the Cold War, the BMP-1 was initially recognized as the "M1967"before evolving into the "BMP-1" designation.
Design work on the BMP-1 series began in 1959-1960 through competition involving various concerns. The resulting winner became the "Obyekt 764" prototype which seemingly incorporated all of the design features sought by the Soviet Army (firepower, performance and protection). The first pilot vehicle was completed in 1964 and testing of more evolved models occurred into 1965 before the type was adopted in 1966 after having passed the requisite state trials.