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Russian Forces Deploy in Ukraine Armored Trains Protected by BMP-2 IFV Mounted on Railway Car



According to information published by the Russian MoD (Ministry of Defense) on August 6, 2023, Russian army Military railway workers use armored trains to conduct demining and escort operations in the Ukrainian combat zone. These trains are now armed with different types of weapons including a ZU-23-2 anti-aircraft gun system and BMP-2 IFV (Infantry Fighting Vehicle) mounted on a flatbed railway car.
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Russian armored train protected by ZU-23-2 anti-aircraft gun and BMP-2 IFV Infantry Fighting Vehicle. (Picture source Russian MoD video footage)


In times of war, everything changes, including the role of trains. We see that in Ukraine, where trains are now one of the most important evacuation means. But we also see how freight trains are used to support the military movement. In fact, pictures and videos of an armored train operated by the Russian military were going around on social media this week.

The Russian Army Western Military District (ZVO) has deployed a special armored train to perform various tasks, including engineering reconnaissance, restoration of damaged railway tracks, and escorting cargo within the Ukrainian combat zones. The train is protected by armor plates and is fitted with weapons, equipment, and fire support systems. It also has shelters for firing and repelling enemy attacks.

The carriage walls are constructed with 20 millimeters of steel, reinforced by sandbags placed behind wooden panels. Within the armored compartment, marksmen are armed with automatic weapons and large-caliber machine guns. For safety purposes, the locomotive is positioned in the center of the train, with the driver following the instructions of an observer.

To increase the protection of these armored trains, a BMP-2 IFV (Infantry Fighting Vehicle) is mounted on a flatbed railway car offering heavy firepower using the onboard weapons systems including a stabilized 30 mm cannon 2A42 and a 7.62 mm PKT coaxial machine gun mounted to the left of the main armament with 2,000 rounds. A bank of three smoke grenade dischargers is mounted on each side of the turret. The BMP-2 is also able to create a smokescreen by injecting diesel fuel into the exhaust outlet on the right side of the hull. Mounted on the turret roof between the gunner's and commander's hatches is a launcher for an AT-4 SPIGOT or AT-5 SPANDREL ATGM (Anti-Tank Guided Missile) which has a maximum range of 4,000m.

The armored trains are also armed with ZU-23-2 offering protection against land and air threats. It is a towed Soviet 23 mm anti-aircraft twin-barreled autocannon introduced in the early 1960s. Its name can be broken down, with "ZU" standing for "Zenitnaya Ustanovka," which translates to "anti-aircraft mount." The "23" indicates the caliber in millimeters, and the "2" indicates the number of gun barrels.

Its primary role is to defend against low-flying aircraft. However, due to the realities of various global conflicts, it's frequently been used in a direct-fire role against ground targets, including infantry and light vehicles. The ZU-23-2 boasts a cyclic rate of fire of around 2,000 rounds per minute. Practically speaking, this rate is usually lower because of the need to switch out ammunition boxes.

A typical crew for the ZU-23-2 consists of three members: a gunner, a loader, and a commander. The gun can employ a range of ammunition types, from armor-piercing and incendiary to high-explosive rounds. While it comes equipped with mechanical sights intended for targeting aircraft, crews might often use direct line of sight when engaging ground targets.

Armored trains have a rich history of use, especially during the early 20th century. In today's context, their practicality in warfare has dwindled due to advancements in military technology, like aerial warfare and precision-guided munitions. Yet, there are some potential benefits of using armored trains in modern conflicts.

One of the main advantages of armored trains is their strategic mobility. They can transport large amounts of troops, equipment, and supplies over extended railway networks. This mobility can offer a strategic advantage in certain scenarios, especially in regions where railways play a dominant role in transportation. Beyond transport, these trains can be heavily armed, equipped with everything from anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems to artillery, providing both defensive and offensive capabilities on the move.

Armored trains can also serve crucial logistical roles. They can be transformed into mobile bases, command centers, or even makeshift hospitals, providing essential services in areas where fixed infrastructure might be lacking or compromised. The armored nature of these trains ensures they can provide a degree of protection against threats, ranging from small arms fire to some heavier weapons. In terrains where road networks are either underdeveloped or have been destroyed, railways might remain the only feasible heavy transportation method. The sheer presence of an armored train can also have a psychological effect, serving as a deterrent by displaying significant military power. Their versatility is another advantage; depending on the requirement, trains can be customized for a variety of roles, from direct combat to support and reconnaissance. Some specialized trains might even carry equipment to repair railways or other critical infrastructures, ensuring the continued viability of rail transportation in conflict zones.


Russian Forces Deploy Armored Trains in Ukraine Protected by BMP 2 IFV Mounted on Railway Car 925 003
Russian armored trains deployed in Ukraine are protected with BMP-2 IFV Infantry Fighting Vehicle mounted on a flatbed railway car. (Picture source video footage Russian MoD)


Russian Forces Deploy Armored Trains in Ukraine Protected by BMP 2 IFV Mounted on Railway Car 925 002
The Russian army armored trains are also armed with ZU-23-2 anti-aircraft gun system. (Picture source Russian moD video footage)



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