Armour Upgrades for Russia

The Russian Ministry of Defense have announced a wide range of new and upgraded armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs) entering front-line service in 2020. Although exact numbers have yet to be confirmed, along with T-72B3M and T-90M main battle tanks (MBTs), the modernised BMP-2M “Berezhok”, the BMP-3 with unmanned “Epoch” turret, and the BMPT “Terminator” will deploy with Russian Federation Army units.

The BMP-2M (modernizirovannyj) “Berezhok” features an unmanned turret mounting a 30mm 2A42 cannon with a PKMT coaxial machine gun, two pairs of 9M133 Kornet anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs), and an AG-30M automatic grenade launcher. The vehicle has also been fitted with an improved fire control system and day/night sights from Bakhcha-U along with an improved suspension and UTD-23 supercharged engine. Its communications capabilities have been likewise upgraded with the installation of the R-168-25U-2 secure tactical radio.

The BMP-3 “Epoch” or “Epokha” sees the integration of the AU-220M “Baikal” combat module with the 57mm LShO-57 “assault cannon” along with a pair of 9M133 Kornet ATGM launchers. The low velocity LShO-57 is an unusual hybrid between grenade launcher and cannon, designed to deliver reasonable armour penetration against light AFVs and excellent high explosive effects on enemy infantry, including via guided airburst rounds. The Russian Army has also recently field-tested the ZAK-57 Derivatsiya-PVO anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) platform, built upon the chassis of the BMP-3, and armed with a high velocity 57mm cannon, again with programmable ammunition.

The adoption of the BMPT “Terminator” is the culmination of many years of design and testing, initially spurred on by the first and second Chechen Wars. The BMPT was envisaged as a heavily armed and armoured support platform to accompany MBTs into built-up areas and other complex terrain. Its role was primarily to suppress enemy ATGM teams and infantry, protecting the MBTs to allow them a level of protection in such close terrain.

The BMPT concept has seen a number of designs developed over the years but this is will be the first time any have formally entered service since the announcement of their imminent adoption back in 2017. The vehicle in its current iteration is based on the chassis of a T-72 or T-90 and features twin 30mm 2A42 cannons, two pairs of 9M120 Ataka ATGMs and a PKMT coax. The integration of the ATGMs may see the BMPT also utilized in overwatch to cover the movement of friendly MBTs.

BMPT image by Nucl0id under CC BY-SA 3.0, BMP-2M image by Xabier Eskisabel under CC BY-SA 2.0