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BMP-3 (Boyevaya Mashina Pekhoty)

Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) / Light Tank

Soviet Union | 1987

"Though not as widely exported, the newer BMP-3 is the culmination of the Infantry Fighting Vehicle line begun in 1966 through the introduction of the BMP-1 series."

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 08/08/2022 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
Soviet Union engineers and factories garnered much experience in the massive armor battles against German and Axis forces that populated World War 2 in across Eastern Europe. This knowledge was integrated and evolved across many post-war developments that were devised for another (possible) -large-scale war - this time against the West - during the Cold War decades that followed. It was Soviet engineers that were the first to introduced the concept of the "Infantry Fighting Vehicle" (IFV) to the world, combing the best aspects of a Light Tank (speed and firepower) with that of an Armored Personnel Carrier ("APC") (armor protection) which ultimately gave rise to the BMP-1 of 1966.

The BMP-1 proved a success for both the Soviet Army and its worldwide allies. However, the design featured some inherent limitations that spurred development of an improved type, particularly after actions in the Yom Kippur War of 1973 and the Soviet-Afghanistan War that engulfed much of the 1980s, the latter adding to the Soviet Empire's downfall in 1991. This brought about development and ultimate production of a new and improved type in the BMP-2 of 1980/1982. The BMP-2 reworked the internal arrangement of the BMP-1, relocated the commander to the turret and a more advantageous position, integrated smoke grenade launchers, revised the primary armament suite from a 73mm canon to a more accurate 30mm system and brought about support for more lethal anti-tank guided missiles launched from an installed launcher. Both the BMP-1 and BMP-2 were produced in the tens of thousands and saw circulation to over 40 countries worldwide with many still in service today.

During the development of the BMP-2 in the mid-1970s, there emerged a prototype - Ob'yekt 685 - mounting a 100mm 2A48-1 series main gun in a traversing turret. Development occurred at the Kurganmashzavod Plant in Kurgan, Russia. The prototype was then evolved into pilot vehicle Ob'yekt 688 with its new powerpack while still retaining much of the same form, performance and amphibious qualities of the preceding BMP-1 and BMP-2 family lines. Development of the type continued into the 1980s to which the vehicle was then sent through the requisite state trials, formally adopted by the Red Army in 1987. Limited production vehicles were then delivered before serial manufacture of the type began in 1989. The vehicle, now recognized as the "BMP-3", was first made aware to Western eyes during a 1990 Moscow parade which earned it the NATO codename of "M1990" for lack of a better series marker.

For all intents and purposes, the BMP-3 continues the line begun through the original BMP-1 of 1966 though it should be recognized that the newer series incorporates several design changes which decidedly separate it from the BMP-1 and BMP-2 marks. Attention has been given to increased crew and systems protection which has resulted in slightly increased armor thickness (as much as 35mm) across critical frontal facings. Six electrically-charged smoke grenade launchers (three to a front turret side) allow the vehicle to set its own screen during maneuvers or retreats though the engine-based smoke screen system of the BMP-1 and BMP-2 has been retained. The operating crew remains three standard personnel to include the driver, commander and gunner. The driver is seated in the front-center hull (as opposed to offset-left in the BMP-1/BMP-2) with the commander and gunner in the two-man turret (commander at right, gunner at left). The vehicle can transport up to seven combat-ready infantrymen with five housed in the rear passenger compartment and two flanking the driver in the front hull (each with roof hatches). In the BMP-3, the relocated engine (from the front to the rear-right) now allowed the driver to be seated at center. Five firing ports were given to the fighting compartment. The powerpack - a UTD-29M series diesel-fueled engine - outputs at an impressive 500 horsepower which is an increase over that of the BMP-2's 300 horsepower system. Road speeds reach 45 miles per hour with operational ranges of 370 miles (BMP-2 topped 45mph and 370 miles respectively). An NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) suite is standard as is an automatic fire suppression system. Night vision is afforded all three crew. ERA (Explosive Reactive Armor) blocks are available for BMP-3 vehicles to further increase protection from next generation penetrators.

As in the BMP-1 and BMP-2 series prior, the BMP-3 retained full amphibious qualities consistent with Soviet armored warfare doctrine. After some slight preparation by the crew (erected trim vane, bilge pumps turned on), the BMP-3 could traverse deep bodies of water, propelled as such by two water jets fitted to the lower rear hull (the BMP-2 relied on the motion of its tracks). Fording speed is an acceptable 6.2mph.

The BMP-3 also retains the six, double-tired road wheel configuration of the BMP-1/BMP-2 with the drive sprocket now moved to the rear of the vehicle and the track idler relocated from the rear to the front. Three track return rollers are still features in the track arrangement and the upper regions are partially protected by a short armored skirt. Suspension is via a torsion bar system and is completely adjustable by the driver "on-the-fly" to content with variable terrain.

The BMP-3 design makes for a low profile thanks to its short hull superstructure and stout turret assembly. The glacis plate is well-sloped leading up to the hull roof line as normal. The sides of the hull are vertical but short which makes direct flank attacks against the vehicle by anti-tank weaponry somewhat difficult. The engine has been relocated from the front right of the hull to the rear right which allows for an offset-left passenger cabin and entry/exit by passengers is still through two hinged, outward-opening rear doors (steps lower as doors are opened to content with the hull's rather high ground clearance). Fuel stores are located under the hull floor. Hatches are found at the passenger cabin roof, three over the front hull and two at the turret roof.

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While passenger hauling capabilities under protection is one of the key qualities of the BMP series as a whole, the other is the use of heavier-than-normal firepower. The BMP-3 utilizes a turret that houses a 100mm rifled 2A70 series main gun coupled to an autoloading system of which 22 rounds of the available 40 x 100mm projectiles are ready-to-fire. The armament of the BMP-3 is further broadened by way of a coaxially-installed 30mm 2A72 series autocannon which can be used against light armored vehicles and infantry with equal lethality. As in the BMP-1 and BMP-2, the BMP-3 was given the capability of firing/launching anti-tank missiles to counter the threat of modern Main Battle Tanks (MBTs), this by way of support for the 9M117 "Bastion" / AT-10 "Stabber" laser-guided Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) fired through the 100mm main gun itself. Beyond these installations, the vehicle is defensed by an optional 40mm grenade launcher, a standard coaxially-installed 7.62mm PKT machine gun and a pair of standard 7.62mm machine guns in fixed, forward-firing positions at each front hull corner. Personal weapons carried by the passengers also come into play through use of the available firing ports. It is noteworthy that the vehicle's primary weapons can engage a variety of targets whilst the vehicle is stationary, on-the-move or in the water due to the excellent stabilization system used. Targets include low-flying aircraft, MBTs, light-armored vehicles, fortified structures and infantry.

Initial BMP-3 units were designated simply as "BMP-3". These were then followed by modernized forms with all-new turrets, fire control systems and powerpacks in the BMP-3M. The Russian Navy received the BMP-3 as the BMMP though these were fitted with the 30mm-armed turret of BMP-2's. The BMP-3K was a command vehicle variant with improved communications and navigation facilities while the BRM-3K "Rys" was a command reconnaissance model for the Russian Army. A special Russian Marine amphibious variant became the BMP-F with its sustained waterborne capabilities allowing it to remain at sea for up to seven hours and fire from rough seas. The BREM-L was a dedicated Armored Recovery Vehicle (ARV) and the 9P157-2 "Khrizantema-S" became a dedicated missile launching platform, joined by the 9M163M-1 "Kornet-T" of similar scope. The BMP-3 chassis was further developed into the one-off 2S18 "Pat-S" self-propelled gun platform prototype mounting a 152mm howitzer, the 2S31 fire support vehicle mounting a 120mm mortar, the DZM "Voxtorg-2" Combat Engineering Vehicle (CEV) and prototype Hermes self-propelled anti-aircraft system. The KhTM serves as a driver trainer.

The Russian Army received nearly 700 (693) vehicles since the adoption of its BMP-3. However, the type has not seen as widespread a service in foreign hands as the BMP-1 and BMP-2 before it. The United Arab Emirates has taken delivered of nearly 400 systems to date, making the UAE the second largest operator of the BMP-3 series, while a 415-strong order for Greece has been delayed. Beyond that, the vehicle is in limited service with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Indonesia, Kuwait, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, Turkmenistan and Venezuela. India - the world's current (2013) largest importer of military products - remains a potential candidate for the Russian BMP-3 series pending the outcome of the indigenous Future Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV) development.

Prior to the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Soviet Army was looking to replace their entire line-up of BMP-2 vehicles with newer BMP-3 models. However, the untimely collapse of the empire and subsequent military budget reductions left the two to co-exist side-by-side in the modern Russian Army inventory.

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August 2022 - An unmanned / crewless experimental variant of the BMP-3 is set to be showcased at Army-2022 by Russia.

Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one land system design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the BMP-3 (Boyevaya Mashina Pekhoty) Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) / Light Tank.
1 x UTD-29M diesel-fueled engine developing 500 horsepower.
Installed Power
43 mph
70 kph
Road Speed
373 miles
600 km
The physical qualities of the BMP-3 (Boyevaya Mashina Pekhoty) Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) / Light Tank.
23.4 ft
7.14 meters
O/A Length
7.5 ft
2.3 meters
O/A Width
10.3 ft
3.15 meters
O/A Height
41,226 lb
18,700 kg | 20.6 tons
Armament & Ammunition
Available supported armament, ammunition, and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the BMP-3 (Boyevaya Mashina Pekhoty) Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) / Light Tank.
1 x 100mm 2A70 rifled main gun with AT-10 ATGM missile support.
1 x 30mm 2A72 coaxial autocannon.
1 x 7.62mm PKT coaxial machine gun.
2 x 7.62mm PKT machine guns in front hull corners.
2 x 3 Smoke Grenade Dischargers.
40 x 100mm projectiles.
500 x 30mm Cannon ammunition.
6,000 x 7.62mm ammunition.
6 x AT-10 laser-guided anti-tank missiles.
6 x Smoke grenades.
Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear Protection (CBRN) - YES.
Notable series variants as part of the BMP-3 (Boyevaya Mashina Pekhoty) family line.
BMP-3 - Base Production Model
BMP-3M - Modernized variant; new FCS, turret and powerpack.
BMMP - Navalized variant
BMP-3K - Command vehicle
BMP-3F - High-endurance amphibious Marine variant
BRM Rys - Reconnaissance Vehicle
BREM-L - Armored Recovery Vehicle
9P157-2 - Anti-Tank Missile Platform
9P163M-1 - Anti-Tank Missile Platform
2S18 - Prototype self-propelled gun platform fitting 152mm howitzer.
2S31 - Fire Support Vehicle fitting 120mm mortar
DZM - Combat Engineering Vehicle
Hermes - Self-propelled tracked anti-aircraft missile platform.
KhTM - Driver Trainer Vehicle.
BMP-3 UGV - Experimental crewless / unmanned variant appearing in 2022; featuring "Titmouse" combat module.
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the BMP-3 (Boyevaya Mashina Pekhoty). Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national land systems listing.

Total Production: 1,840 Units

Contractor(s): Kurgan Machine Construction Plant - Soviet Union / Russia
National flag of Armenia National flag of Azerbaijan National flag of Cyprus National flag of Indonesia National flag of Kuwait National flag of Russia National flag of South Korea National flag of the Soviet Union National flag of Sri Lanka National flag of Syria National flag of Turkmenistan National flag of Ukraine National flag of the United Arab Emirates National flag of Venezuela

[ Armenia; Azerbaijan; Cyprus; Indonesia; Kuwait; Russia; Soviet Union; South Korea; Sri Lanka; Syria; Ukraine; United Arab Emirates; Turkmenistan; Venezuela ]
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Image of the BMP-3 (Boyevaya Mashina Pekhoty)
Image courtesy of the United States Navy

Design Qualities
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to battlefield requirements.
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The BMP-3 (Boyevaya Mashina Pekhoty) Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) / Light Tank appears in the following collections:
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