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Airborne combat vehicle


The BMD-1 is a very light armored vehicle intended to support airborne troops

Country of origin Soviet Union
Entered service 1969
Crew 2 men
Personnel 5 men
Dimensions and weight
Weight 7.5 t
Length 5.4 m
Width 2.63 m
Height 1.67 - 1.97 m
Main gun 1 x 73-mm
ATGW 9K14 Malyutka launcher
Machine guns 3 x 7.62-mm
Ammunition load
Main gun 40 rounds
ATGW 4 missiles
Machine guns 4 000 x 7.62-mm
Engine 5D-20 diesel
Engine power 240 hp
Maximum road speed 60 km/h
Amphibious speed on water 10 km/h
Range 320 km
Gradient 60%
Side slope 30%
Vertical step 0.7 m
Trench 1.6 m
Fording Amphibious


   During the Cold War the Soviet Union had more airborne troops than all other countries of the world combined. Air Assault Divisions were elite forces, armed with the latest weapons and equipment. Including unique BMD-1 airborne combat vehicles. Development of this armored vehicle commenced in 1965. It entered service with the Soviet airborne troops in 1969. At the time of its introduction it was unique vehicle with many innovations.

   Compared to the other Eastern Bloc infantry fighting vehicles and armored personnel carriers the BMD-1 has been produced in relatively small numbers for the former Soviet Army Air Assault Divisions. It has been exported to Cuba, India, Iran and Iraq. After collapse of the Soviet Union this vehicle was passed on to some of the former Soviet republics. The BMD-1 has seen action during some wars. Today major operators of this airborne combat vehicle are Azerbaijan, Belarus, Iran, Moldova, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Most of the Russian BMD-1's are in storage and newer vehicles are used. Currently Russia and China are the only countries that design new dedicated airborne combat vehicles.

   The BMD-1 is a fast, lightly armored amphibious vehicle. It can be paradropped from military cargo aircraft.

   First seen in 1973, the BMD-1 is a very lightly armored vehicle. It has a welded aluminum armor hull. The hull is bulky to render the vehicle amphibious. Hull of the vehicle is reinforced to withstand landings. It seems that front arc provides protection against 12.7-mm rounds. All-round protection is against small arms fire and artillery shell splinters. This ACV is fitted with automatic fire suppression and NBC protection systems.

   The BMD-1 is capable of supporting airborne troops during the early phases of airborne operations. For this role the main emphasis is on direct fire support, so the BMD-1 is fitted with the same weapons as used on the BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicle in an essentially similar turret. A one-man turret is armed with a magazine-fed 73-mm smoothbore gun. A semi-automatic loader was removed in order to save weights so the gun is loaded manually by the gunner. Maximum rate of fire is 7-8 rounds per minute. A total of 40 rounds are carried.

   There is a coaxial 7.62-mm machine gun while two more 7.62-mm MGs are fixed for firing from the front hull. A 30-mm automatic grenade launcher on a ground mounting is also carried as standard. A launching rail for the 9M14 Malyutka (AT-3 Sagger) anti-tank guided missiles was also provided on initial production vehicles.

   However the armament was not as powerful as first thought by Western observers. It appeared that the 73-mm non-stabilized low velocity gun was inaccurate at longer ranges. Its maximum aimed range was only 1 300 m. Direct range of fire was only 765 m. Also this gun could not engage air targets. The wire-guided missile proved ineffective and has been removed from later models.

   The BMD-1 airborne combat vehicle has a crew of two, including gunner and driver. It accommodates 5 fully-equipped troops. Two of the troops operate front-mounted machine guns. Interior and crew compartment are cramped due to low silhouette. Passengers enter and leave the vehicle via a rear hatch.

   The BMD-1 ACV is powered by a 5D-20 diesel engine, developing 240 hp. Engine is located at the rear. It is mated to a 4-speed manual transmission. One feature of the BMD-1 is the variable height hydro-pneumatic suspension system to allow the vehicle to be paradropped on platforms. The road wheels are also small while the tracks are only 230 mm wide. Vehicle has good cross-country mobility due to high power-to-weight ratio and low ground pressure. The BMD-1 is fully amphibious. On water it is propelled by two waterjets.




   BMD-1P fitted with AT-4 Spigot anti-tank missile launcher. It also has improved sights and improved night vision equipment. Production of this version commenced in 1977;

   BMD-1K and BMD-1PK command vehicles;

   BTR-D a lengthened turretless armored personnel carrier version of the BMD-1. An extra road wheel is added each side. It can carry 12 troops plus the driver;

   2S9 Nona-S is a 120-mm breech-loaded mortar system, based on a modified BMD-1 chassis. It was developed for the Soviet air assault divisions. Vehicle has no provision to carry extra troops;

   BMD-2 an improved version of the BMD-1. The 73-mm gun was replaced by a 30-mm cannon. From 1990 onwards a BMD-3 has appeared but is a new design overall.


Video of the BMD-1 airborne combat vehicle








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