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BMD-2 (Boyevaya Mashina Desanta)

Airborne Amphibious Light Tank / Infantry Fighting Vehicle

Soviet Union | 1985

"The BMD-2 air-droppable infantry fighting vehicle was the next logical evolution of the BMD line of vehicles."

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 02/27/2022 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
The BMD-2 was a further evolution of the BMD-1 line of amphibious light infantry fighting vehicles (IFV) intended to be air-droppable for awaiting Soviet paratrooper elements. The BMD-1 was itself a scaled-down version of the full-sized BMP-1 series IFV and entered service in 1969 - the BMD-1 was designed to utilize the turret of the BMP-1 and provide lightly armed airborne forces with a hard-hitting vehicle until arrival of the main force. When the BMP-1 line was developed into the improved "BMP-2" series of the 1980s, thought was given to fit its new turret configuration into a modified form of the BMD line and this ultimately produced the "Obyekt 916" program designation which led to the development of the "BMD-2". Design work on the new vehicle spanned from 1981 to 1985 to which the new BMD-2 was adopted for Red Army use thereafter. Production was handled out of the Volgograd Tractor Plant. As with the BMD-1 and BMP-1 (and the BMP-2 for that matter), the BMD-2 also saw combat service with Soviet forces in the war in Afghanistan.

Outwardly, the BMD-2 mimicked much of what was the BMD-1 before it. The basic shape of the BMP family was still largely retained just on a smaller scale. The hull was very boat-like in its design with a raised front end for wading water sources and a heavily sloped glacis plate provided basic ballistics protection. The driver managed a position at the front hull with the fighting compartment directly behind. The turret was situated ahead of amidships with the engine at the rear. The hull was straddled by running gear made up of five road wheels with the requisite track idler, drive sprocket and track return rollers in place. The hull roof was largely flat and vision blocks allowed the driver, commander and gunner limited observation ports of the action ahead. Armor construction was of welded aluminum alloy which presented minimal protection to the crew but made for a lighter overall vehicle. As the BMD series was always intended to be for airborne troops, it was also intended to be air droppable on parachuting pallets emerging from passing transport aircraft. Overall weight was 11.5 tons and the standard operating crew was four (driver, commander, gunner and machine gunner) with room for four combat-ready troops.

Armament was primarily contained in the small turret which housed the 30mm 2A42 cannon. Like later production versions of the BMD-1, the BMD-2 could also fire anti-tank guided missiles for a truly devastating reach against all modern tanks of the time. Secondary armament came in the form of a 7.62mm PKT machine gun in a coaxial mounting in the turret. There was an additional 7.62mm PKT machine gun in the bow for increased defense. 300 rounds of 30mm ammunition were carried and separated between armor-piercing and high-explosive warheads for use on armored and non-armored targets respectively. 2,940 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition was also carried for the machine guns.

Power for the BMD-2 was derived from the 5D-20 diesel-fueled 6-cylinder liquid-cooled engine developing 241 horsepower at 2,600 - largely comparable to the BMD-1's system. A top road speed of 80 km/h was reported as was a 450 kilometer operational range. The hull was suspended on a torsion bar suspension system and ground clearance was adjustable by the driver. The BMD-2 also retained the amphibious quality of the BMP-1/BMP-2/BMD-1 series which made for a more adaptable tactical instrument of war. The vehicle was propelled in the water by a pair of waterjets fitted to the rear hull. Considering the landscape of Western Europe - most likely to become the battlefield of choice in the Cold War, this was forward-thinking.

The BMD-2 only existed across three notable variants. "BMD-2" was used to signify the basic initial combat vehicles while "BMD-2K" designated command vehicles with additional communications equipment. The BMD-2 was then modernized to become the "BMD-2M" mark which introduced support for smoke grenade dischargers on the turret sides. Beyond that, the BMD-2 production run saw little changes from the original fielding. Operators of the BMD-2 (beyond Russia/Soviet Union) went on to include India, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Russia today remains the largest operator of the type with hundreds still in service and over 1,000 in mothballs.

During development of the BMD-2, another version was being drawn up to fit the full-size, complete version of the BMP-2 turret. This model became the "BMD-3" of 1990 (detailed elsewhere on this site). The designation of "BMD" stands for "Boyevaya Mashina Desanta" which translates into "Combat Vehicle Airborne".

NATO designated the BMD-2 as the "BMD M1981/1"

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Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one land system design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the BMD-2 (Boyevaya Mashina Desanta) Airborne Amphibious Light Tank / Infantry Fighting Vehicle.
1 x 5D-20 liquid-cooled 6-cylinder diesel engine developing 241 horsepower at 2,600rpm.
Installed Power
50 mph
80 kph
Road Speed
280 miles
450 km
The physical qualities of the BMD-2 (Boyevaya Mashina Desanta) Airborne Amphibious Light Tank / Infantry Fighting Vehicle.
4 + 4
25.8 ft
7.85 meters
O/A Length
9.6 ft
2.94 meters
O/A Width
8.0 ft
2.45 meters
O/A Height
25,353 lb
11,500 kg | 12.7 tons
Armament & Ammunition
Available supported armament, ammunition, and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the BMD-2 (Boyevaya Mashina Desanta) Airborne Amphibious Light Tank / Infantry Fighting Vehicle.
1 x 30mm 2A42 cannon
1 x ATGM missile launcher
1 x 7.62mm PKT coaxial machine gun
1 x 7.62mm PKT bow-mounted machine gun
300 x 30mm projectiles
3 x ATGM missiles
2,940 x 7.62mm ammunition
Nightvision - YES.
Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear Protection (CBRN) - YES.
Notable series variants as part of the BMD-2 (Boyevaya Mashina Desanta) family line.
Obyekt 916 - Project Designation
BMD-2 - Initial Production Models; basic infantry combat vehicle.
BMD-2K - Command Vehicle
BMD-2M - Modernized BMD-2 vehicles with smoke grenade dischargers fitted at the turret sides.
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the BMD-2 (Boyevaya Mashina Desanta). Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national land systems listing.

Total Production: 2,150 Units

Contractor(s): Volgograd Tractor Plant - Soviet Union
National flag of India National flag of Russia National flag of the Soviet Union National flag of Ukraine National flag of Uzbekistan

[ India; Russia; Soviet Union; Ukraine; Uzbekistan ]
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Image of the BMD-2 (Boyevaya Mashina Desanta)
Front left side view of the BMD-2 IFV; note hatch arrangement with vision blocks
2 / 2
Image of the BMD-2 (Boyevaya Mashina Desanta)
Clsoe-up detailed view of the running gear on a BMD-2 IFV in Bosnia

Going Further...
The BMD-2 (Boyevaya Mashina Desanta) Airborne Amphibious Light Tank / Infantry Fighting Vehicle appears in the following collections:
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