The BMP-1 Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) proved a success for the Soviet Army when it was introduced in 1966. It went on to be used by a plethora of national powers from South America and Africa to Southeast Asia and the Middle East. As such production of this product reached into the tens of thousands when all variants were considered.
Bulgaria was one of the many global customers to receive the BMP-1 and, with this practical background, it went ahead with a new, indigenous IFV becoming the "BMP-23" - utilizing the same relative form and battlefield function as its Soviet predecessor with modifications enacted to suit local requirements. The chassis and hull of the BMP-23 were taken from the 2S1 "Gvozdika" Self-Propelled Gun (SPG) (detailed elsewhere on this site) which added more internal space for the carrying of troops.
The end result has become a useful 15.2 tonne vehicle with a 7.28 meter length, 3 meter width and 2.5 meter height. Internally it is crewed by three and seats a further seven combat-ready elements. A turret fitted atop the low profile hull fits a 23mm 2A14 series autocannon with built-in functionality for firing the 9K111 Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) (original models fired the (9K11 "Malyutka" series missile). Secondary armament is a 7.62mm PKT machine gun in a coaxial fitting. The armor is steel (cast) and provides protection against large caliber small arms fire and artillery spray. The running gear includes seven road wheels to a hull side with the drive sprocket at front leaving the track idler at rear. Power to the vehicle is served through a YaMZ-238N turbocharged diesel-fueled engine developing 315 horsepower. Road speeds reach 62 kmh and ranges are out to 600 kilometers. An inherent amphibious quality is noted.
The BMP-23 was unveiled during a 1984 parade (prior to the end of the Cold War, 1991) and it is believed that about (or fewer than) 100 were constructed since. The series went on to see combat service with the Bulgarian Army in Iraq following the events of 9/11 and variants include the BMP-23D, which introduced 9K111 missile support, and the BMP-30 - which seats the complete turret of the BMP-2 IFV line.