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BMP-1 upgrade to extend life cycle in BMP-1AM variant - Part 2

Basurmanin is an economy upgrade which extends the life cycle of the old hardware for another ten years. The Russian army operates up to 1,000 BMP-1s. Their replacement with BMP-3s will cost 82-86 billion rubles judging by the batch procured in 2019.
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BMP-1AM Basurmanin (Picture source: Vitaly Kuzmin)

Basurmanin operation by the Russian troops will definitely trigger interest abroad, as many countries usually buy batch products operated by the producing country. The total export potential is big due to several thousands BMP-1s in depots. In case of an agreement with a foreign customer, they can undergo an industrial upgrade.

Experts criticize Basurmanin for low protection and mobility, as well as modest antitank capabilities. Additional appliqué perimeter armor similar to what is fitted on the BMP-2M can decrease vulnerability. However, it will further decrease mobility. It can be radically increased by the new supercharged UTD-23 diesel engine of 400 HP which thus develops 100 HP more than an ordinary UTD-20 can provide. Industry representatives sometimes speak about a more powerful power plant for the BMP-1AM, but there is no confirmation about such a decision of the customer.

Enhanced engine and gearbox are the main requirements of the Indian army to the upgrade of its Russian BMP fleet. They are necessary because of a hot climate and mountain operations. If the foreign customer pays for the upgrade, it will be an additional stimulus for the Russian military.

Enhanced antitank weapons have been an issue since Soviet time. Initially, the BMP-1 was armed with Malyutka missiles and then with Fagot from 1979. Upgraded options offered MB2 combat compartment with Konkursk antitank missiles (Muromteplovoz) and Clever or Bereg module with Kornet missiles (KBP). The latter has a digital automatic fire control with various sensors (including heat imagers) to destroy targets day and night from a 30mm gun and by guided antitank missiles at a distance of 8 km.

The main problems of additional armor, new engine and missiles are their financial cost, incomparable with the residual value of the BMP-1. The infantry fighting vehicle was designed to transport soldiers cross-country or by road to the mission area and provide fire support. The fifty-year old Soviet military doctrine staked on large-scale offensive of tank and motorized rifle formations with massive aviation and artillery support. Numerous BMP-1s had to operate along with tanks. Motorized rifles had to disembark several hundred meters before the frontline and operate under the protection of machinegun and gunfire of armored vehicles.

The BMP-1 does not have to destroy tanks. It can only protect itself by firing its 73mm gun and guided antitank missiles. Malyutka cannot precisely fire in motion. A direct hit is possible only in a stopover. After firing the first missile, the crew has to prepare the second launch by manually placing the next Malyutka into the guide located on the turret. It is necessary to open hatches and get out for that.

The armor of the BMP-1 sustains fire from small-caliber automatic guns in the front and large-caliber machineguns in the sides. After BMP-1 appeared, western countries designed improved munitions and protection of the vehicle weakened. However, local conflicts showed that the armor sustains fire from rifle-attached grenade launchers and 7.62mm assault rifles and protects against antipersonnel mines, handheld grenades and 82mm mortars.

The BMP-1 can fulfil its main missions and will continue to operate in the Ground Forces. Basurmanin upgrade will prolong the life cycle, expand functions and ability to fight in modern armed conflicts, the Independent Military Review said.

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