Ever since the late 1960’s the airborne units of the Soviet Union had their own fighting vehicles. The similar attempt was made with the US/NATO army, but the approach was radically different in those two cases. The western countries adopted the light tank approach and that resulted in creation of M551 Sheridan light tank. The Soviet Union developed a vehicle that was more similar to an IFV and the first model was known as the BMD-1.
Naturally, over the years the design was perfected and nowadays we can see the units of the elite Russian VDV being equipped with the brand new BMD-4M. The development of this model was rather fast and simple since it inherited many features from its predecessor the BMD-3 and from the standard IFV of the Russian Army called the BMP-3. During late 1990’s the lot of 60 BMD-4s was sent to the VDV units and now it’s upgraded version the BMD-4M is under way. The contract was signed in 2012 and it predicts a purchase of 1.000 units of this vehicle until the year 2020.
The differences between the BMD-4 and BMD-4M are not that radical in terms of the armament, but the entire hull is redesigned and it got a new stronger engine. Also, the production was moved from Volgograd (former Stalingrad) to Kurgan.
Arsenal and the equipment:
Although the BMD-4M is quite compact in size due to the necessity to fit the transport planes, it has more than a potent arsenal of weapons at its disposal and it is a vehicle capable of even tackling the main battle tanks.
The primary armament consists of a 100 mm 2A70 gun. It is capable of firing both classic shells and 9A117M1 Arkan Tandem ATGMs. Since the range of these missiles is over 5.500 meters and it is capable of taking out most of the modern tanks, it becomes clear that this vehicle is not an underdog in such a clash. Additionally, the BMD-4M can be fitted with the AT-5 Spandrel wire guided missiles and that gives it more than enough firepower when facing the armored units of the opponent. The 2A70 gun can’t penetrate modern tanks but it can be quite adequate for any lighter vehicle on the battlefield. It is equipped with the auto loader so the crew of the BMD-4M is consisted of only 2 men.
The second weapon in the arsenal is mighty 2A72 30 mm auto cannon. This weapon is capable of taking out any light armored target and coupled with the previously mentioned 2A70 gun it provides more than enough firepower top take out any threat. Finally, there is a 7.62 mm PKT machine gun to tackle the infantry.
The fire control system on BMD-4M if fully automated and it allows the vehicle to fight in any weather condition, day or night, on a move, while floating or when stationary. It is also an amphibious vehicle so it can cross any water obstacle it encounters at the speed of 10 km/h.
The armor of BMD-4M can withstand the 30 mm shells at its front and gives the protection against the small arms (up to 7.62 mm) on the sides and rear. Because of its parachuting and amphibious features, the armor is quite light and it is vulnerable to larger calibers. Still, as its main usage is predicted for the areas behind enemy lines, it is not meant to tackle the conventional armor and heavy calibers.
All in all, it is clear that the VDV is getting one great fighting machine that will allow them to carry out their tasks with pretty nice odds on their side. Concerning the level of training and the tradition of the VDV units, this will be one formidable opponent to any force in the world.
Crew: 2 crew, 6 paratroopers
Weight: 13.5 tons
Length: 6.4 m
Width: 3.1 m
Height: 2.5 m
Propulsion: UTD-29 diesel engine (500 hp)
Armament: 1 x 2A70 100 mm gun, 1 x 2A72 30mm auto cannon, 1 x 7.62mm PKT, 9M117M1 Arkan, 9M113 Konkurs (AT-5 Spandrel)
Radius: max 500 km
Speed: 70 km/h on road, 10 km/h on water