Taking a page out of Soviet-era armored doctrine, the nation of Romania used local industry to design, develop and produce its BMP-1 Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) equivalent - the "MLI-84". As in the Soviet version, the Romanian type was given a low-profile hull, a traditional track-and-wheel drive system, and was operated by a crew of three with a built-in troop-carrying capability. It began service in 1985 and continues to be operational through a more modernize "M" form (detailed below). Design work on the series spanned from 1982 until 1985 and production eventually totaled 178 units.
As completed, the vehicle weighs 17.6 tonnes and has a running length of 7.3 meters, a beam of 3.3 meters and a height of 2.9 meters. Its crew consists of a driver at front-left in the hull, the vehicle commander direct behind him, and a gunner positioned at the turret. There is space to carry eight combat-equipped infantry towards the rear of the hull as the engine is nested at front-right. Turreted armament (originally a missile-capable 73mm autocannon as seen in the Soviet BMP-1) is fitted to the hull roof line as are entry-exit hatches (with accompanying vision blocks). An entry-exit door is located at the rear hull facing for the troops in the rear compartment. Armor protection is against small arms fire up to 12.7mm in caliber and against artillery spray but little else. Self-defense is through a 7.62mm or 12.7mm machine gun in addition to any personal weapons carried by the troopers (these fired through the available gun ports along the hull sides). 6 x Smoke grenade dischargers allow the vehicle to self-screen its movements on the battlefield.
In comparison, the BMP-1 carried a weight of 13.2 tonnes and had a running length of 6.7 meters, a beam measuring 2.94 meters, and a height of 2.1 meters.
Power is from a local Romanian 8-cylinder 1240-DT-S diesel engine outputting 355 horsepower. The running gear includes six double-tired road wheels to a hull side with the drive sprocket at front and the track idler at the rear of the hull. Three track return rollers are positioned along the upper regions of the hull sides. With inherently good mobility and cross-country capability, the MLI-84 can reach road speeds up to 65-70 kmh and range out to 550-600 kilometers - suitable qualities within the confines of modern armored warfare. The vehicle was also built with an inherent, low-preparation amphibious quality (as many Soviet-era vehicles were).
The initial production model was designated simply as "MLI-84". Modernization has relatively recently introduced (in 2005) the "MLI-84M" with its Israeli OWS-25 weapon station in place of the original Soviet-style turret. The completed system includes a 25mm Oerlikon autocannon, 1 x 7.62mm machine gun and 2 x 9S415 / 9M14-2T "Malijutka-2T" / "Spike" Anti-Tank, Guided-Missile (ATGM) launchers giving the vehicle good firepower against both "soft" and "hard" targets at range. 8 x Smoke grenade launchers are also carried on this mark and power is through the American Caterpillar C9 diesel engine of 400 horsepower output. The changes have resulted in a slightly heavier, slower road vehicle with an increased profile. Amphibious preparation is also more intensive than in the original production version.
Using the MLI-84 as a common chassis, other variants acquired by the Romanian Army include the MLI-84M PCB ("Punct de Comanda Batalion) battalion-level armored command vehicle, the MLI-84M TPET ("Tractor Pentru Evacuare Tehnica") Armored Recovery Vehicle (ARV), and the MLI-84M VEM ("Vehicul de Evacuare Medicala") battlefield ambulance. The ARV model loses the turret but gains three heavy-duty, powered crane arms and a winch as well as numerous stowage boxes. The ambulance model is also unarmed and carries the hull superstructure of the battalion command vehicle.