Kurganmashzavod BMP-3 Infantry Fighting Vehicle
by Tim Wing
- Height: 2.4 meters
- Length: 7.14 meters
- Width: 3.2 meters
- Weight: 18.7 metric tons (standard), 22.2 metric tons (with reactive armor kit)
- Design: Kurgan Special Design Bureau of Mechanical Engineering
- Builder: Kurganmashzavod and Rubtsovsk Machine Building Plant (RMZ)
- Infantry Fighting Vehicle
III. Service History:
Served with the Soviet Army from 1987 until 2023. Continued to be serve with Soviet Army reserve formations and various Eastern Block of Soviet Independent States (EBSIS) members state’s militaries until 2031.
- Powerplant: UTD-29M diesel producing 375 kW (500 hp).
- Maximum speed: 72 kp/h
- Power to weight: 27 hp/ton
- Range: 600 km
- SOZH-M gunner’s main sight with an integrated laser range-finder and missile-guidance channel
- AST-B Vesna-K targeting system with thermal imaging camera and automatic target tracker
- PL-1 IR laser projector
- OU-5-1 IR searchlight
- 1PZ-10 combined optical sight
- SOZH-M thermal imaging camera
- OU-3GA2 IR searchlight
- 1 x 2A70 100 mm low-pressure gun/missile launcher (able to fire shells or the 9M117 Bastion ATGM)
- 1 x 2A72 30 mm autocannon
- 3 x 7.62 mm PKT machine guns
- 5 x firing ports with associated vision blocks for embarked infantrymen to fire from
- 6 x 902V “Tucha-2” 81 mm smoke grenade launchers
The hull and turret are made of a high-strength aluminum alloy, with the front of the hull being provided with an extra steel plate welded over it plus spaced armor from the trim vane. The turret is also provided with a thick steel spaced armor shield over its frontal arc. The maximum thickness is over 35mm in the front.
The armor stops small arms fire, provides excellent resistance to heavy infantry weapons fire, and poor resistance to light mecha-mounted weaponry, such as the Zentraedi 22.3mm HE autocannon round.
The BMP-3 included full nuclear, biological and chemical protect with the GO-27 radiation and chemical agent detector and an FVU filtration system. An automatic fire extinguisher system was also included.
Note: At least two distinct sets of explosive reactive armor kit were available, giving the BMP-3 protection from less advanced rocket propelled grenades. One of them was the Kaktus ERA kit, which had a unique design that created minimal acoustic and kinetic backlash to the armor behind it upon detonation, thus ensuring that the occupants would not be harmed by shockwaves from the ERA block. The BMP-3 could also be fitted with additional side armor tiles, which could resist .50 caliber armor-piercing ammunition perpendicularly at close ranges.
The BMP-3 was a Soviet lightly armored, fully tracked, infantry fighting vehicle designed to transport seven fully equipped infantrymen. The BMP-3 was the successor to the BMP-1 and BMP-2. The abbreviation BMP stands for Boevaya Mashina Pehoty (Боевая Машина Пехоты, literally “Infantry Combat Vehicle”). It was developed by the Kurgan Special Design Bureau of Mechanical Engineering and produced at the OAO Kurganmashzavod plant in Russia. It entered operational service in 1987 and remained in front line service until 2023. Though it left front line service with the Soviet Army in 2023, it continued to serve in reserve units and with the Hungarian, Romanian and Polish Armies until 2031.
The design of the BMP-3, or Object 688M, can be traced back to the Object 685 light tank prototype with its 100 mm gun 2A48-1 from 1975. This vehicle did not enter series production, but the chassis, with a new engine, was used for the next-generation infantry combat vehicle. The resulting BMP-3 was developed in the early 1980s and entered service with the Soviet Army officially in 1987. It was shown for the first time in public during the 1990 Victory Day parade. The BMP-3 is designed and produced by the Kurganmashzavod (“Kurgan Machine Building Plant”) some variants however are built by the Rubtsovsk Machine Building Plant (RMZ).
The BMP-3 was one of the most heavily armed infantry combat vehicles to enter service, fitted with a low-velocity 2A70 100 mm rifled gun, which could fire conventional shells or 9M117 ATGMs (AT-10 Stabber). 40 100mm-rounds and 8 ATGMs were carried. A 2A72 30 mm dual feed autocannon with 500 (300 HEI and 200 APT) rounds and a rate of fire of 350 to 400 RPM, and a 7.62mm PKT machine gun with 2,000 rounds, were also mounted coaxially in the turret. There were also two 7.62mm PKT bow machine guns, again with 2,000 rounds each. The BMP-3 was capable of engaging targets out to 5,000–6,000 meters with its ATGM weapon system 9K116-3 “Basnya”. With conventional ammunition, such as the HE-Frag shell 3OF32, the 2A70 gun had a claimed range of 4,000 meters.
The BMP-3 had an unconventional layout. The engine was in the back of the vehicle to the right (unlike most other IFVs, which have the engine located forward in the hull). As a result, the driver was seated forward in the hull (in the center) together with two infantrymen (one on each side of the driver). The vehicle had a double bottom and the engine is located under the floor of the vehicle (troops enter/leave the vehicle over the engine). The remaining five infantrymen were seated aft of the two-man turret.
Operators included the Soviet Army (up until 2023), the East German Army (up until 2026), the Hungarian Army, the Polish People’s Army, the Romanian Army, the Hellenic Army (up until 2025), the Syrian Army, the Iraqi Army, the Kuwaiti Army, the Saudi People’s Army, the Iranian Revolutionary Army, the North Korean Army and the Cuban Army. The BMP-3 saw action in several conflicts, to include the Global Civil War, the Unification War, the Malcontent Uprisings, the Palestinian Liberation War and the Soviet Invasion of Western Europe in 2031. The BMP-3 also saw plenty of use in the early years of the Invid Occupation with rebel groups within the former territories of the Eastern Block of Soviet Independent States.
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Original artwork by: Steven Zolago (Jane’s Armour and Artillery 1992-93)
Content by Tim Wing
Copyright © 2018 Tim Wing