BMP family of Soviet/Russian amphibious tracked infantry fighting vehicles have been used in a number of conflicts ever since the introduction of BMP-1 in the ’60s. Arguably the most produced and widespread versions are the BMP-1 and BMP-2. Despite still being widely used in many countries, these vehicles do require some modernization to keep up with the modern combat challenges. In this article, we’ll take a brief look at the recent Russian and Ukrainian upgrade programs of BMP-1 and BMP-2 vehicles.
Russian BMP-1 Upgrade Program
BMP-1 was adopted in 1966 and reportedly more than 20,000 of these vehicles were made. Although many of them are spread all around the world, Russia has inherited the majority of these vehicles from the Soviet Union. That being said, a possibility to give a second life to these old warhorses making them more useful in the modern battlefields is a logical and cost-effective solution for the Russian military.
One of the most outdated parts of the BMP-1 is its 73mm 2A28 Grom smoothbore cannon. According to Russian RIA Novosti news agency, the upgrade program will replace the original turret with the BPPU-1 (БППУ-1) turret borrowed from the BTR-82А armored personnel carrier. The main armament mounted on the BTR-82U turret is the 30mm 2A72 autocannon chambered in 30x165mm. This improvement alone will allow the modernized BMP-1 to have a firepower similar to BMP-2. The purpose of this upgrade is not only to make the BMP-1 much more effective against ground targets but also against aerial ones such as helicopters and UAVs.
An undisclosed source from the Russian Ministry of Defense informed RIA Novosti that the Russian military has acquired 20 BTR-82A turrets and right now they are experimenting with fitting them to BMP-1 IFVs. Reportedly, first upgraded BMP-1s may enter the service by the end of summer of 2018.
According to the same sources of the mentioned news agency, currently, Russia has about 1,000 BMP-1s in use and 7,000 stored. Another 7,000 are in service in other countries. If the upgrade program proves to be successful, they may also offer it to those countries that also use BMP-1 IFVs.
There is no information concerning other possible upgrades included in this program. I assume a simple armor improvement like the addition of slat armor may possibly appear on these vehicles because this is quite a cheap yet effective solution. It would be also interesting to know what are they planning to do with the 73mm 2A28 Grom cannons that will be dismounted from the BMP-1s.
Ukrainian BMP-2 Upgrade Program
Ukrainian state-owned UkrOboronProm corporation has recently published an article telling about a BMP-2 upgraded turret system called Duplet. In the video embedded below you can see the Duplet turret installed on a BMP-2 IFV. This system can also replace the T-64 tank turrets converting them into tank support vehicles. A similar concept is used in Russian BMPT “Terminator” AFVs.
Duplet turret is equipped with two 30mm autocannons, two 7.62mm machine guns, an automatic grenade launcher and two “Barrier” anti-tank guided missile launchers.
Here is how UkrOboronProm describes other fetures of this upgrade program:
“Zhytomyr Armored Plant” – using its own working capital – has been working to improve characteristics of the combat module. Specialists equipped the module with advanced fire system, allowing to track target in automatic mode, independently calculate ballistics and conduct accurate fire in all weather conditions, day and night.
For this purpose, “Duplet” was re-equipped with a new thermal imager, allowing to recognize targets throughout the range of fire with all “Duplet” armament, including ATGM “Barrier”.
And during “Duplet” testing – recently held at one of Zhytomyr region firing grounds – high efficiency of these solutions has been demonstrated in practice.
The main “Duplet” armament: two automatic 30-mm guns with maximum firing rate of about 1000 rounds per minute. It takes “Duplet” one second only to fire 16 rounds at the enemy. Heavy fire allows to put fortified weapon emplacements, light armored vehicles, manpower and low-flying helicopter type air targets out of action.
“Duplet” has a significantly expanded ammunition, allowing effective long-duration combat. And two automatic guns can work in turn, doubling continuous fire duration without overheating the guns.
It is unclear whether BMP-2s equipped with Duplet turrets will still retain the troop compartment or if they are designed to increase the firepower at the cost of its personnel carrying capability.
Kondratyuk A. (2018, March 17). “ИСТОЧНИК: МОДЕРНИЗИРОВАННЫЕ БМП-1 СМОГУТ СБИВАТЬ ВОЗДУШНЫЕ ЦЕЛИ”. RIA Novosti. Retrieved from: https://ria.ru/arms/20180317/1516573729.html
“COMBAT MODULE “DUPLET” BY “ZHYTOMYR ARMORED PLANT”: HEAVY FIRE AND DIGITAL CONTROL SYSTEM- VIDEO”. UkrOboronProm. Retrieved from: http://ukroboronprom.com.ua/en/media/bojovyj-modul-duplet-vid-zhytomyrskogo-bronetankovogo-zavodu-shkval-vognyu-ta-tsyfrova-systema-upravlinnya-video.html
Images from www.ukroboronprom.com.ua, www.wikipedia.org