The BMP-3 amphibious Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) has proven itself quite the versatile combat system since its inception in 1987. Over 2,000 of the type have been produced by Kurganmashzavod of Kurgan, Russian to date. It only became natural to evolve this capable design to fulfill other battlefield roles and, for the export market, the 2S31 "Vena" fire support vehicle was realized. Beginning production in 1996 and formally entering service in 2010, the vehicle is equipped with a 120mm long-barreled, heavy-class mortar system allowing it to deliver consistent mortar fire against target areas with accuracy. The vehicles are constructed by the Motovilikha Parts Corporation and has seen export to Azerbaijan which has taken delivery of some eighteen total units.
Fire support vehicles are indispensible battlefield elements when used in conjunction with coordinated infantry assaults for they can supply direct or in-direct fire used to unseat enemy forces in hiding, allowing allied infantry to take contested ground. The 2S31 fulfills this battlefield role and utilizes proven components that make it both a reliable vehicle and stable weapons platform.
The Vena is a tracked vehicle in the 21.5-ton weight range featuring a body of all-welded aluminum armor protecting against small arms fire and artillery spray. Its crew numbers four and seats the driver in the front-center of the hull with the commander, gunner, and loader in the three-man power-assisted turret. The hull is given a very shallow, almost horizontal glacis plate, a quality carried over from the BMP-3 vehicle. The turret features sloped surfaces for basic ballistics protection. Twelve smoke grenade dischargers are seated on the front turret sides in two banks of six launchers which provides the crew with a self-screening measure whether on the offensive or in retreat.
At the heart of the 2S31 Vena system is its 120mm 2A80 series rifled main gun which is used in the mortar projection role. A modern Fire Control System (FCS) is installed which allows for accurate fire at range in any weather condition and in day-or-night light levels. Automatic line-sighting is a feature that quickly resets the main gun after firing to help the crew deliver successive shots with continued accuracy. The main gun can elevate from -4 to +80 degrees and can reach up to ten rounds-per-minute when firing. The turret delivers full 360-degree rotation. The gun ranges out to 13 kilometers. Infantry threats are dealt with through an installed 7.62mm PKTM machine gun.
Power to the vehicle is provided through a UTD-29 series V-type 12-cylinder, liquid-cooled diesel-fueled engine outputting at 500 horsepower. The vehicle's running gear includes a track-and-wheel arrangement with six double-tired road wheels to each hull side. The track idler is mounted at front with the driver sprocket at rear. Three track return rollers help to manage the upper track spans. The chassis relies on an individual torsion bar suspension system which aids in cross-country travel. Maximum road speed reaches 70 kmh with an operational range out to 600 kilometers.