In 2007, the Russian Army adopted the 2S25 (also known as "Sprut-SD") series of tracked armored vehicles formally categorized as tank destroyers though, historically, they are more comparable to light tanks by their defined battlefield role and weight class. On the modern battlefield, the 2S25 could also be viewed as a very well-armed infantry fighting vehicle. All told, the system became a further evolution of the BMD-3 airborne amphibious light tank family (detailed elsewhere on this site) with a more capable main gun intended for the anti-tank role. As the BMD series itself was designed with lightly-armed airborne forces in mind, the 2S25 has since broadened its tactical reach by allowing airborne (and Russian marine) elements a defined tank-killing prowess. The 2S25 was developed specifically for use by the Russian VDV "air-landing" forces, these elements featuring a history dating back to the 1930s.
Attempting to adequately arm airborne units has long been a standing challenge to modern armies of the world. The tactical value of airborne personnel was put to the test in World War 2 to which all sides saw varying degrees of success and failure in their respective endeavors. The Soviet Army introduced their "air droppable" BMD series in 1969 to which the Americans followed suit with their own M551 Sheridan that same year. The BMD showcased its value and, over the decades, has been considerably upgraded with a broader range of weaponry to further its battlefield value and "reach". Unlike the M551 Sheridan, which has since been retired, use of the BMD family is going strong through the Russian Army and many global operators.
As an offshoot of the BMD-3 (now seeing upgrade to the modernized BMD-4 standard), the 2S25 retained much of the original vehicle's layout and general overall shape. The hull is suspended by way of an adjustable/variable-height hydropneumatic system atop a tracked wheel system featuring seven small road wheels (as opposed to five) with the drive sprocket at the rear and the track idler at the front. Six track return rollers are situated along the underside of the upper track link regions to help manage its travel from front to rear. The hull itself sports a well-sloped glacis plate for basic point defense protection against incoming fire. The hull sides, roof and rear are all flat in their design. The turret is situated at the center of the hull roof and is provided a full, unobstructed 360-degree traversal as well as inherent elevation angles. The turret is given a well-sloped front facing and sides designed to supply basic ballistics protection. The fighting compartment is situated at the front-center of the hull with the driver segregated from the other two crew with his front hull placement. The other two crew consist of the vehicle commander and the gunner while an autoloader manages the reloading functions of the main gun on-call. Armor construction of the hull is of welded aluminum alloy while the turret is of welded steel. The crew is protected by an integrated NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) system as well as an automatic fire extinguishing service.
The 2S25 is powered by a single 2V-06-2 liquid-cooled diesel engine of 510 horsepower fitted to the rear of the hull. Operational range is listed at 500 kilometers with a top road speed of 70 kilometers per hour. This is decidedly lessened in off-road travel to 45 kilometers per hour. As an amphibious vehicle, the 2S25 can manage 10 kilometers per hour in ideal conditions by way of a pair of waterjets in the lower rear of the hull.
Primary armament of the2S25 is its 125mm 2A75 series smoothbore main gun, fully stabilized along both axis. The weapon system is capable of countering modern main battle tank armor as well as lesser foes as needed. The fire control system is fully modern and digital, allowing the gunnery crew to simply identify targets and manage the ammunition and firing function accordingly. A 7.62mm coaxial defensive machine gun is fitted alongside the main gun while smoke grenade dischargers allow the vehicle to screen its movements against prying eyes. 40 x 125mm projectiles are carried aboard with 22 of these projectiles "ready-to-fire" in the autoloading system. There are 2,000 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition for the machine gun as well. The autoloading system can supply a steady 7 rounds-per-minute of sustained fire. Like other Soviet/Russian tank guns, the 2A75 main gun of the 2S25 vehicle can also fire anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) as needed (the 9M119 "Svir" ATGM being cited).
The capabilities of the 2S25 fall in-line with accepted Russian tank doctrine of the day. Though the type is relatively lightly armored (protection is against 23mm caliber cannon rounds, general small arms and artillery splinters) the vehicle is well-armed, fast and mobile and amphibious - in the latter case it also retains its full ability to fire the main gun on-the-move. The portable nature of the 2S25 series also ensures that it can be utilized in all manner of ways concerning deployment to awaiting frontline units. The main gun provides a strong counter to modern battlefield threats and overall quality gives excellent value for airborne elements prior to the arrival of a main army ground force. External upgrade armor kits are optional if the threat of anti-tank enemies is to be expected. As in the BMD series before it, the 2S25 can be fully air-dropped with the entire crew aboard - they requiring just minutes to get the vehicle into full action status soon after landing. This alone presents a tremendous tactical advantage on the mobile-minded battlefield particularly where airborne battalions are concerned.
The 2S25 is produced out of the Volgograd Tractor Factory (formerly the Stalingrad Tractor Factory) which made a name for itself during World War 2 as a producer of the famous T-34 Medium Tank series. Of particular note is that the Volgograd plant has also been responsible for the design and production of all previous BMD family marks so its expertise in light combat systems is noted. To date (2012), it is believed that some 24 x 2S25 tracked vehicles have now entered frontline service with VDV forces. It is estimated that as many as 75 systems will ultimately be delivered.