The BMD-3 (Boyevaya Mashina Desanta, Russian "Боевая Машина Десанта", which literally translates to "Combat Vehicle of the Airborne") is an infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) originating from the former Soviet Union.[2] This armored fighting vehicle is one of the lightest in its class and is intended to be a fire support platform for use by airborne and air assault units. The primary armament is a 30 mm 2A42 autocannon capable of firing different types of ammunition which include high-explosive and armor-piecing. The BMD-3 possesses multiple secondary weapons such as the 9M113 Konkurs missile and the AGS-17 grenade launcher to defeat a wide range of targets from enemy infantry to other armored fighting vehicles.

A BMD-3 at the 2009 Omsk "VTVT" exhibition
TypeInfantry fighting vehicle
Place of originSoviet Union
Service history
In service1990–present
Used byAngola
Production history
ManufacturerVolgograd tractor factory
No. built143[1]
VariantsSee Variants
Mass12.9 t (14.2 short tons; 12.7 long tons)
Length6.36 m (20 ft 10 in) (gun forward)
6 m (19 ft 8 in) (chassis)
Width3.13 m (10 ft 3 in)
Height2.45 m (8 ft 0 in) (maximum)
2.17 m (7 ft 1 in) (minimum)

ArmorTurret: Steel
Hull: Aluminum alloy
30 mm 2A42 autocannon
30 mm AGS-17 grenade launcher
7.62 mm PKT coaxial machine gun
5.45 mm RPK-74 machine gun
9M113 Konkurs ATGM
Engine2V-06-2 water-cooled diesel engine
450 hp (331 kW)
Power/weight34.9 hp/tonne (25.7 kW/tonne)
SuspensionHydropneumatic suspension
500 km (310 mi) (on paved roads)
Speed70 km/h (43 mph) (on paved roads)
45 km/h (28 mph) (on rough terrain)
10 km/h (6.2 mph) (in water)

Designed in the 1980s,[1] the vehicle was manufactured by the Volgograd tractor factory[2] under the industrial index Object 950. The BMD-3 entered service with the VDV in 1990 with only 137 vehicles being produced due to the economic depression. The operators of the BMD-3 are Angola[3] and Russia. As of 2013, 123 BMD-3s[4] and 60 BMD-4s[5] are in service with the Russian Airborne Troops.



Since the foundation of the VDV, Soviet engineers continuously sought to provide them with sufficient firepower. Experience from World War II revealed that the "winged infantry" should be at least en par with the conventional infantry in terms of firepower, protection and mobility. However, a degree of military-transport aviation capability to airlift airborne troops to landing zones at the time of their creation impeded the solution of this problem. The adoption of the An-8 and An-12 military-transport aircraft, industrial achievements, and new approaches to military doctrines created technical and economic preconditions for the development of armament and hardware versions that could be air portable. In 1969, the BMD-1 entered service and was equally combat-efficient as the BMP-1.[4]

At the time of its operation, the BMD-1 had no analogues abroad. Its main armament was a 73 mm smoothbore gun with a coaxial 7.62 mm PKT machine gun. It also had a launcher rail for the 9M14 Malyutka. Additional armaments include two bow-mounted 7.62mm PKT machine guns in the front part of the vehicle, in addition to one ball joint firing port on either side and cover of the rear hatch to fire from individual weapons. The vehicle also featured a hydropneumatic suspension system capable of changing its ground clearance. A low weight of 7.5 t allowed it to be light enough to parachute from any types of military-transport aircraft. This airborne infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) also possessed one of the highest power-to-weight ratios at 32 hp/tonne. The BMD-1 was the first domestically produced vehicle equipped with aluminum armor to ensure its light weight. The engineering incorporated in the BMD-1 allowed it to be used as a base vehicle for multiple variants including the BMD-1K and the BTR-D.[4]

During the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan, intensive combat highlighted the lack of sufficient firepower provided by the BMD-1 and its variants. This led to the development of a new vehicle in the 1980s, fitted with a new main armament. The new vehicle, designated as the BMD-2, entered service in 1985 with the airborne troops. The sole difference between the BMD-2 and BMD-1 was the armament. The new armament for the BMD-2 was the 30 mm 2A42 autocannon capable of a higher elevation. In addition, the BMD-2 was fitted with a 9P135M launcher rail for 9M111 Fagot and 9M113 Konkurs anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM).[4]


The development of this 3rd generation airborne combat vehicle was initiated during the same time frame of the development of the BMP-3. However, the results of the development showed that the mass of the BMP-3 with landing facilities will significantly exceed 20 tonnes limiting an Il-76 to transporting one vehicle. In the early 1980s, the creation of an airborne combat vehicle was initiated. During the design, two options were considered for the BMD-3. The first one included a chassis weighing over 18 tonnes with a 100 mm 2A70 rifled gun and a coaxial 30 mm 2A72 autocannon. The second option was to use the combat module with a 30 mm 2A42 autocannon. Thus, an IL-76 could be loaded either with two airborne combat vehicles weighing 18 tonnes, or three airborne combat vehicles weighing 12.5 tonnes. Research showed that the latter version of the new BMD-3 ran much more efficiently. On the basis of the experience gained and the results of the research, the Council of Ministers of the USSR and the CPSU number 451-159 officially opened the ROC under the code "Bakhcha" on 20 May 1983. Work included the development of an airborne combat vehicle weighing 12.5 tonnes with the Volgograd tractor factory appointed as the head developer.[6]

One month later, an agreement was made for the tactical and technical requirements for the new BMD as well as a complete technical design stage. When developing the new BMD, the experience gained in the course of work on the BMD-1 and "Object 934" light tank was used. By 1985, the acceptance testing of three new BMD prototypes was completed. The test results revealed that all the samples exceeded the permissible mass by 190–290 kg and that the running vehicle gave numerous failures. The design bureau VgTZ fixed most of the shortcomings and were eliminated. By May 1986, the refined BMD prototypes completed preliminary tests with three more prototypes developed by the Volgograd tractor factory. These were sent to the state test for another evaluation. New samples exceeded the permissible mass by 400 kg, as they were made subject to measures of improving the reliability of the running transmission gears. The BMD state tests took place between 27 October 1986 and 27 October 1987. According to test results, two to three vehicles were completed and sent to the control tests in different climatic zones conducted from 10 July to 19 November 1988. The conclusion for the "Bakhcha" was assessed as positive with the vehicle fulfilling the tactical and technical requirements set by the airborne troops. On 10 February 1990, the USSR adopted the "Object 950" IFV into service under the designation BMD-3. The serial production of the BMD-3 was then initiated and continued until 1997. Excluding six prototypes produced before 1990, 137 BMD-3s were produced from the year of its adoption to the end of its serial production.[1]

Unit production per year[1]



The overall dimensions and weight of the BMD-3 are diminutive in comparison to its counterparts. The crew consists of a driver, a vehicle commander, and a gunner and holds four passengers.[7] There are seats for mounted infantrymen in the middle of the hull, with one stowage rack for three 9M111 or 9M113 ATGMs.[2] There are also three racks for ammunitions boxes and a filter-ventilation unit. The commander's seat is on the right of the turret and has a cupola with a hatch cover that opens forward, while the gunner's seat is on the left and has a single-piece hatch cover that opens to the front.[2] Of the four passengers, two are seated at the front with the other two near behind the turret. A firing port is provided on each side of the BMD-3. Additional infantry can be seated for short distances to the immediate rear of the turret with the roof hatch open.[7] The seats of the combat crew are fastened to the roof of the combat compartments to improve protection from IEDs and mines.[4] The engine compartment is located towards the rear of the BMD-3 consisting of a 450 hp (horsepower) 2V-06-02 water-cooled diesel engine, main clutch, gearbox, final drives and brakes.[2] A collective NBC protection system was provided by over-pressurization of the combat compartment via a filter-ventilation unit to insure the survivability of the crew in an environment contaminated by nuclear fallout.[4]


Primary armament

The primary armament of the BMD-3 is the 30 mm 2A42 autocannon in the form of the original BMP-2 turret. This autocannon is mounted on other vehicles, like the Ka-52 and Mi-28.[8] The 2A42 autocannon is a dual selective feed cannon which is fitted with a distinct muzzle brake and manual weapons laying drives increasing accuracy and consistency.[8] This muzzle brake reduces oscillation of the gun mount at the moment of a round being fired. The practical rate of fire is 200–300 rds/min (rounds per minute) while the cyclic rate of fire is over 550 rds/min.[7][8] It fires rounds with a muzzle velocity of 960 m/s. The BMD-3 has 500 rounds for the 30 mm autocannon ready to be used with an additional 360 stowed inside.[7] The maximum effective range when firing AP-T (armor-piercing-tracer) ammunition is 2,000 m, and when firing HE-I (high-explosive-incendiary) ammunition is 4,000 m against an area target.[4][7] A 7.62×54mmR PKT machine gun is mounted coaxially on the right side of the main armament. This coaxial machine gun has a cyclic rate of fire of 800 rds/min and is also equipped with one belt of 2,000 rounds. The KBP Instrument Design Bureau offers a drop-in one-man turret, called the Kliver turret, with a stabilized 2A72 30 mm gun, four Kornet ATGM launchers, thermal sights, a coaxial 7.62 mm PKT machine gun, and an improved fire control system.[7]

Secondary armaments

30 mm AGS-17 grenade launcher
5.45 RPK squad automatic weapon
Both of the above weapons are mounted on the front BMD-3.

The BMD-3 is equipped with two bow mounted secondary weapons for use against infantry and armored fighting vehicles. Mounted at the front left is a 30 mm AGS-17 automatic grenade launcher. On the front right, a bow mounted 5.45×39mm RPK machine gun can be used. Each of the bow weapons is operated by one of the infantrymen seated in the front of the vehicle.[7] For the AGS-17, there are 290 rounds of ready to use ammunition, with an additional 261 stowed in the BMD-3.[7] The RPK-74 holds 2,160 rounds of ready to use ammunition. The 5.45 mm RPK-74 is used for direct engagements up to 800 m, whereas the 30 mm AGS-17 automatic grenade engages and suppresses targets at ranges out to 1,700 m using high-explosive fragmentation grenades. If required, these weapons can also be dismounted from the vehicle.[2]

Anti-tank guided weapons

Anti-tank guided weapons (ATGMs) can be operated by the BMD-3. This is made possible by the 9P135M launcher post that fires the wire guided Fagot (NATO reporting name: AT-4 Spigot) and Konkurs (NATO reporting name: AT-5 Spandrel) missiles. The 9P135M launcher is located on the top center of the BMD-3 turret and is dismountable. The crew can engage targets from the vehicle or a distance away from the system.[2] The ATGM launcher has three ready-to-use rounds and two stowed in the vehicle.[7] The Fagot missile is a short range ATGM with an effective range of 2 km. While flying at an average speed of 186 m/s, it penetrates 480 mm of RHA.[9] The Fagot-M is an improved variant that has an increased effective range of 2.5 km and a penetration of 550 mm of RHA. The Konkurs missile has an effective range of 4000 m and flies at an average speed of 206 m/s.[10] The original Konkurs missile penetrates 750–800 mm[10] of RHA while the improved Konkurs-M penetrates 750–800 mm of RHA after ERA due to an additional tandem warhead.[11] The firing range is reduced to 2,500 m during night time.[11] A French-German Flame-V adapter kit allows the BMD-3 to launch MILAN ATGMs.[7]

Fire control system

A 2E36-3 weapons stabilizer allows the stabilization to be in two planes; the elevation and azimuth. Both the commander and gunner can fire the main armament of the vehicle. Turret traverse is through a full 360° with weapon elevation from −5 to +75°.[2] The high elevation allows it to be used against slow flying aircraft, helicopters, and targets located at higher altitudes.[2] To aim the cannon and the coaxial machine gun at a target, the vehicle is equipped with a BPK-1-42 combined sight type, which incorporates a day channel, a passive and active night channel, and a type PZU-8 day sight. The vehicle’s communication systems features a type R-123M ultra short wave (USW) radio for outside communication and interphone system. A type TPU-124 is used for communication between crew members on board.[2]

Options are available to enhance the BMD-3's fire control system, including the SANOET-1 thermal gunner's sight. Thermal sights are also available for the ATGM launcher. The Trakt/1PN65 thermal imaging ATGM night sight has an acquisition range of 2,500 m. The Mulat/1PN86 thermal ATGM night sight, which has a 3,600 m detection range and a 2,000 m identification range, is available for dismounted use.[7]


Like its predecessors, the BMD-3 is lightly armored to ensure a high level of mobility. The steel turret and aluminum alloy hull provide the crew's protection against .50 caliber rounds towards the front of the vehicle. Towards the sides and rear of the chassis, protection from small arms fire, shell splinters, and projectile fragments is ensured. The BMD-3 is fitted with automatic fire fighting equipment and over-pressurized NBC protection system. Three electrically operated 81 mm smoke dischargers that fire forwards are located on both sides of the turret providing protection against infrared weapons.[4] A smoke screen can also be created by injecting diesel fuel into the exhaust.[2] A French SNPE explosive reactive armor (ERA) kit is also made available. However, ERA is hazardous for nearby infantry with passive armor being a more practical application.[7]

Engine and mobility

The engine compartment is located in the rear of the vehicle and consists of: a 2V-06-02 water-cooled diesel engine developing 450 hp, a main clutch, a gearbox, a final drives, and brakes.[2] The suspension of the vehicle consists of five rubber-tyred road wheels on each side, a drive sprocket at the rear, an idler at the front, and four track-return rollers. The BMD-3 is fitted with a new hydromechanical transmission with hydrostatic steering mechanism. This adjustable suspension gives a ground clearance between 130 and 530 mm with 450 mm being the default. This hydropneumatic suspension allows the BMD-3 to decrease its height to be able to board transport aircraft like the Il-76M.[7] The ground clearance is adjusted by the driver and it takes 10 seconds to lower or raise the suspension. The maximum road speed is 70 km/h and the maximum off-road speed is 45 km/h. The vehicle can achieve an operational range of up to 500 km on paved roads and can climb up to 60% gradient and move on a 30% side slope.[2] The ground pressure exerted by the BMD-3 is 0.48 kg/cm2 with standard tracks and 0.32 kg/cm2 with broader tracks.[4]

The BMD-3 is fully amphibious and is propelled by two water jets mounted one on either side at the rear of the vehicle, allowing the vehicle to achieve speeds of up to 10 km/h in the water and in a sea state of up to three.[2] A snorkel is erected from the driver's position and a trim vane is erected at the front of the vehicle when entering water and the automatic bilge pump is turned on.[2] Unlike its predecessors, the BMD-3 can be airdropped with its all its crews and passengers inside the vehicle, allowing combat engagement to be immediate after landing. For the BMD-1 and BMD-2, the crew would be dropped separately, which required additional time to marry up with their fighting vehicle.[7]


  • BMD-3K – The commander variant of the BMD-3 adopted by the Russian Army in 1996. Mass production of this vehicle was never initiated.
  • 2S25 Sprut-SD (Object 952) – A self-propelled anti-tank gun that entered service in 2005. This vehicle has the chassis of the BMD-3 and is operated by a crew of three. The main armament is the 125 mm 2A75 smoothbore gun which is a variant of the 2A46 smoothbore gun series used by Soviet main battle tanks since the T-64. It can fire the ammunition of the 2A46 including the 9M119 Svir. The chassis has seven road wheels on each side instead of five and the engine is now the 2V-06-2S with a power of 510 hp.[12]
  • BTR-MD “Rakushka” (Object 955) – A multi-role transport vehicle with bigger hull and no turret. This type can be used to transport troops, fuel, ammunition and wounded personnel. It also serves as the basis for a new range of specialised vehicles for the Russian airborne forces, including a mortar platform and an ambulance.
    • BTR-MDM – A modernized version with the same improvements as the BMD-4M.[13]
  • RKhM-5 (Object 958) – A chemical reconnaissance vehicle introduced in 2011 and is fitted with the same specialized equipment as the BTR-80 version known as the RKhM-4. The turret has been removed; the RKhM-5 has a fixed superstructure with a machine gun turret. The hull is larger allowing it to transport troops, fuel, ammunition and wounded personnel.[2][14] The VDV successfully completed the testing of the first three vehicles in March 2012.[15]
  • BMD-4 (Object 960) – Originally designated as the BMD-3M, this vehicle has a modified chassis with new turret known as the "Bakhcha-U". The weaponry bears greater similarity to the BMP-3. This new armament consists of: a 100 mm 2A70 rifled main gun, a 30mm 2A72 autocannon, a 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun, and new "Ramka" fire control system. The bow-mounted AGS-17 has been removed and is replaced with an AGS-30. BMD-4s are newly built or upgraded BMD-3s. The BMD-4 is no longer being purchased for the Russian troops, in favor of the BMD-4M.
    • BMD-4M – The upgraded variant with a new chassis and the 500 hp UTD-29 engine of the BMP-3. This version will be produced by Kurganmashzavod (KTZ) instead of VgTZ. The vehicle was presented to the VDV in March 2008. According to KTZ, series production could have started in 2009. The BMD-4M was evaluated by the VDV.[16] In August 2011, the evaluation process still wasn't terminated and no firm agreement had been taken as to the delivery of the 10 first vehicles to the VDV, as foreseen in the 2011 state orders. The Russian Defense Ministry decided to adopt the BMD-4M in December 2012.[17]
  • BMM-D – A command post vehicle and a recovery vehicle. Some variants will have a longer chassis with seven road wheels and probably the same 510 hp engine as the 2S25.


Current operators

  • Russian Airborne Troops – About 100 BMD-3s in active service as of 2012.[19] Up to 60 BMD-4s, either upgraded from BMD-3s or newly built, are in active service.[5]

See also

  • BMP-3 – Current infantry fighting vehicle
  • BMPT – Tank support fighting vehicle
  • T-90 – Current main battle tank

IFVs of comparable role, performance, and era


  1. Pavlov, I.V.; Pavlov, M.V. (2012). Otechestvennyye bronirovannyye mashiny 1945–1965 gg (in Russian) (6 ed.). Moscow: Techinform. pp. 2–6.
  2. "BMD-3 Airborne Armoured Infantry Fighting Vehicle". Army Recognition. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
  3. "Angolan army ground forces military equipment". Army Recognition. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
  4. Eugene Yanko, Copyright 1997 - "BMD-3; Russian Military Analysis". Archived from the original on October 24, 2013. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
  5. Eugene Yanko, Copyright 1997 - "BMD-4 / BMD-3M "Bakhcha" Airborne Combat Vehicle; Russian Military Analysis". Archived from the original on October 25, 2013. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
  6. Pavlov, I.V.; Pavlov, M.V. (2012). Otechestvennyye bronirovannyye mashiny 1945–1965 gg (in Russian) (5 ed.). Moscow: Techinform. pp. 21–26.
  7. "BMD-3 Airborne Infantry Fighting Vehicle". Federation of American Scientists. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
  8. "KBP Instrument Design Bureau – 2A42". KBP Instrument Design Bureau. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
  9. "AT-4 SPIGOT Anti-Tank Guided Missile". Federation of American Scientists. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
  10. "Anti-Tank Guided Missile 9M113M of the "Konkurs-M" System". Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
  11. "AT-5 Spandrel/9K113 Konkurs 9M113". Army Recognition. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
  12. "2S25 Sprut-SD Self-propelled anti-tank gun". Army Recognition. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
  13. "BTR-MD Rakushka multi-role airborne armoured vehicle". Army Recognition. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
  14. "RHM-5 Povozka D-1 Airborne NBC reconnaissance armoured vehicle". Army Recognition. Archived from the original on 27 March 2013. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
  15. "Russian airborne troops have successfully completed tests of the RKhM-5 NBC armoured vehicle". Army Recognition. 12 March 2012. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
  16. "Russia may start production of BMD-4M combat vehicles in 2009". RIA Novosti. 21 March 2008. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
  17. "New BMD-4M latest generation of airborne armoured vehicle adopted by Russian airborne troops". Army Recognition. 14 December 2012. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
  18. The Military Balance 2012. – P. 421.
  19. The Military Balance 2012. – P. 193.
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