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BMP-1 upgrade to extend life cycle in BMP-1AM variant - Part 1

Upgraded first-generation combat vehicles are being delivered to the Russian army. A confirmation is the demonstration of BMP-1AM at the Army-2020 forum. This IFV was displayed first at Army 2018 defense forum.
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BMP-1AM unveiled at Army 2018 defense forum near Kubinka (Picture source: Army Recognition)

There is no official information on the acceptance of BMP-1AM into service. However, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said on June 4, 2019 that the troops were to receive that year over 400 new and upgraded armor units, including T-72B3M with domestic sights, T-90M Proryv, T-80BVM tanks and BMP-1AM infantry fighting vehicles.

The BMP-1AM retains the size, except for the height. It became 1.5 meters taller(2,550 mm). The crew strength (three men) and the assault team (eight soldiers) remain unchanged. The basic UTD-20 engine has been replaced by economical UTD-20S1 (as in the BMP-2) with the same 300 HP power. The total weight increasesto 14.2 tons, but the maximum road speed (65 km/h) and the range (550 km) remain the same.

The old R-123M radio equipment has been replaced by the modern R-168-25U-2 of the Akveduk digital system, which provides sustainable and protected communications.

The turret with its 73mm smooth-barrel Grom 2A28 gun has been replaced by a combat module with 30mm automatic 2A72 gun stabilized in two axes. Grom possessed good characteristics for its time and could destroy fortifications in the battlefield, including bunkers. PG-15V projectile with cumulative PG-98 grenade could destroy a tank. However, NATO hardware has now received multilayered distributed armor with enhanced cumulative protection.

Grom has a slow initial projectile speed and fire density and the small turret limits the guidance angles, mostly the vertical one. The stocks of projectiles have been exhausted and there is no sense to resume the production of projectiles fired only by BMP-1 and SPG-9 grenade launcher. The rearmament with a 30mm gun became necessary to ensure unification and munitions.

BMP-1AM is now equal in firepower to BTR-82A and BMP-2. The modern combat module provides a better view for the commander and pointer. New fire controls with a night sight ensure precision fire. The maximum elevation angle increased to 74 degrees and the vehicle can fire at ground and air targets and effectively operate in urban combat when it is necessary to fire at top floors. Metis 9K115 antitank missile system is used to fight armored targets.

BMP-1AM for the first time appeared in public at Alabino range during the Army forum in 2018. Organizers also called it Basurmanin and experts concluded it was intended mostly for export. They believed the main markets were in the Middle and Near East. They have received several thousands BMP-s1 and many are still operational. The plant in Chelyabinsk produced over 20,000 vehicles from 1966 and two-thirds of them were exported.

Many BMP-1s and BMP-2s operate in India. Some were produced under license. New Delhi plans to upgrade its infantry fighting vehicles by local and foreign companies. Russian armor designers proposed to upgrade old vehicles and hope to receive orders from abroad and from the Russian army.

Several organizations engaged in upgrading BMP-1s and BMP-2s. They have designed a broad range of options in two decades. Only two of them were of interest for the clients: cheap BMP-1 and more costly BMP-2. BMP-1AM and BMP-2M prototypes were demonstrated together at Army forum. BMP-2, BTR-82A and BMD followed suit for the visitors to see all the vehicles and compare them. Foreign customers could choose the upgrade option for Soviet and Russian infantry fighting vehicles.


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