Soviet airdrop of BMD-1 airborne combat vehicle with crew onboard marks 50 years

Fifty years have passed since the first airdrop of BMD-1 combat vehicle with the crew inside. No foreign army has repeated the achievement, the Russian Defense Ministry said.
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BMD-1 IFV during the Competition of Airborne Troops reconnaissance companies commanders at the end of December 2011, in Tula, the base of the 106th Guards Airborne Division (Picture source: Wikipedia/Vitaly Kuzmin)

The BMD-1 with the crew was airdropped from An-12 aircraft in Tula region in January 5, 1973. The crew comprised commander Lieutenant Colonel Leonid Zuev and gunman Senior Lieutenant Alexander Margelov. “The new tactic ensured the engagement of airborne divisions in hours and minutes instead of days. Western countries, such as the United States, France and England learned about the experiment and launched their own effort, however nobody in the world has held such tests,” the ministry said.

The BMD-1 is a Soviet airborne amphibious tracked infantry fighting vehicle, which was introduced in 1969 and first seen by the West in 1970. BMD stands for Boyevaya Mashina Desanta, which literally translates to "Combat Vehicle of the Airborne"). It can be dropped by parachute and, although it resembles the BMP-1, it is in fact much smaller. The BMD-1 was used as an IFV by the Soviet Army's airborne divisions. An improved variant of the BMD-1 was developed, the BMD-2. The BMD-1 also provided a basis for the BTR-D airborne multi-purpose tracked APC.

The BMD-1 has an unconventional layout for an IFV. From the front to the back of the vehicle, the compartments are located in the following formation: steering, fighting, troop and engine. This is because the BMD-1 is based on Ob'yekt 914, which in turn is based on the PT-76 amphibious light tank. This meant that transported troops had to mount and dismount the vehicle via the roof hatches, which made them an easy target on the battlefield when these actions were performed.

Russia now operates platformless PBS-950U and PBS-955 parachutes to airdrop BMD-4M airborne vehicles and BTR-MDM Rakushka APC with the crew inside.

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BMD-4M airborne IFV displayed at Armya 2018 defense forum in Patriot Park, Kubinka (Picture source: Army Recognition)

Army Recognition Global Defense and Security news

BTR-MDM Rakushka airborne APC displayed at Armya 2018 defense forum in Patriot Park, Kubinka (Picture source: Army Recognition)