The BMP-3, the initials of “Boevaya Mashina Pekhoty” (“infantry fighting vehicle (IFV)”), represents the pinnacle of Soviet and Russian engineering in infantry fighting vehicles. As the successor to the BMP-1 and BMP-2, the BMP-3 possesses a number of quite capable features as a IFV, including powerful armament, advanced optics and excellent mobility.
The development of the BMP-3, also known as the Obyekt 688M, has its roots in the 1975 prototype of the Obyekt 685 light tank, with a 100 mm 2A48-1 gun. Kurganmashzavod was the main production plant for the BMP-3, although some versions are manufactured by the Rubtsovsk (RMZ) plant. Throughout its production cycle, the BMP-3 has undergone significant improvements, with more than 1,500 design modifications incorporated into the vehicle. The number of BMP-3s built exceeds 2,000.
The BMP-3 has a powerful firepower, with a turret equipped with a 100 mm 2A70 low-velocity weapon and can engage targets with either 3UOF HE-FRAG rounds or 3UBK10-3 guided anti-tank missiles known as 9M117 or the NATO AT-10 version of the National Guard’s version. The system is designed for improved effectiveness, incorporating several features to improve performance.
The BMP-3’s 2A70 cannon has a range of up to 4,000 metres and using a reduced explosive charge, the barrel propels the 9M117 projectile at a velocity of approximately 400-500 m/s (1,300-1,600 ft/s) on exit.
As the missile is launched to hit the enemy vehicle/target, a small protective cover is detached and about 1.5 seconds after the missile is fired, the rocket motor starts up, maintaining combustion for 6 seconds.
With a magazine capacity of 40 rounds (total) of 100 mm and 8 ATGM rockets, it has the necessary ammunition for continuous engagements. The turret also accommodates a 30 mm 2A72 dual-fed automatic cannon with 500 rounds and a 7.62 mm PKT machine gun with a capacity of 2,000 rounds, providing effective support against various threats.
Its systems contribute to its accuracy and flexibility on the battlefield. The 2K23 system, integrated in the turret, includes an automatic loader with 22 projectiles (the remaining 18 are in storage), a ballistic computer (1V539), a stabilization system (2E52-2), a laser rangefinder (1D16-3) and multiple optical sights. The BMP-3 allows maximum engagement of targets up to 5,000-6,000 meters using ATGM 9K116-3 “Basnya” missiles. In addition, the vehicle can effectively engage targets while on the move.
BMP-3 design and engine
With the engine located on the rear starboard side, opposite the conventional front positioning, the driver occupies the front hull with two pedestrians. The rear compartment accommodates the remaining five pedestrians. The BMP-3 is powered by a UTD-29M diesel engine, which produces 500 horsepower.
This engine allows the vehicle to reach a maximum speed of 72 kilometres per hour on roads, 45 kilometres per hour off-road and 10 kilometres per hour on water. The TUMA has a fuel range of approximately 600 kilometres.
It weighs about 18.7 tonnes. It is approximately 7.14 metres long, 3.2 metres wide and 2.4 metres high and has a suspension system suitable for the most difficult terrain.
The vehicle has an aluminium and steel alloy armour, which helps protect it from enemy attacks. The front armour is approximately 35 mm thick. The self-sealing fuel tank, strategically placed behind the front armour, mitigates the risk of damage from high explosive charges and various projectiles.
The BMP-3 is equipped with a range of defensive measures, including a smoke screen, a chemical agent detector, a FVU filtering system and six 902V “Tucha-2” 81 mm smoke grenade launchers.
Improvements in protection measures include the availability of Explosive Reactive Armour (ERA) kits, such as the Kaktus ERA. These kits provide increased protection, with minimal acoustic and kinetic response during an explosion. Additional side armor plates, capable of resisting .50 caliber armor piercing ammunition, further enhance its capabilities.
The BMP-3 on the battlefield
This Russian IFV has been used in various wars and conflicts, such as the First and Second Chechen Wars, the Yemeni Civil War, the Saudi intervention in Yemen, the Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) conflict in 2020 and the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022.
In the fighting in Ukraine they appeared to lack sufficient protection in the tower and did not appear to protect the vehicle crew to any great extent but still the data is too recent to draw a proper conclusion about the protection of the vehicle.
- South Korea
- United Arab Emirates
The BMP-3 has a powerful combination of firepower, mobility and protection. As a “modern” armoured fighting vehicle, it continues to be an important addition to the armed forces that operate it.
Questions and answers on the BMP-3
What is the BMP-3?
BMP-3 stands for “Boevaya Mashina Pekhoty”, which translates to “infantry fighting vehicle” (IFV).
What are some key features of the BMP-3?
The BMP-3 has many notable features, including powerful weapons, advanced optics and excellent mobility.
Where was the BMP-3 built?
The production facility for the BMP-3 is Kurganmashzavod, although some versions are manufactured by the Rubtsovsk (RMZ) plant.
What type of armament does the BMP-3 have?
It has a 100mm 2A70 cannon and a 30mm 2A72 automatic cannon.
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