Land Weapons

IFV (1966)




The USSR took a head start in the development of infantry fighting vehicles thanks to the BMP-1, the first of its kind developed anywhere in the world. In contrast to the then prevalent conception of armored personnel carriers as 'battle taxis', IFVs were designed as a vehicle that could not only carry infantry troops into battle but allowed them to fight the enemy without having to dismount. The IFV’s firepower would also provide them with greater support after they were on the ground. The design of the BMP-1 was therefore optimized by having the engine placed in the forward right part of the hull, with the driver and commander stations arranged in tandem to the left. This layout allowed the rear hull to be used for carrying up to eight fully equipped troops that could dismount from rear-opening doors (this being a key improvement over the West German HS.30 which in many ways was a proto-IFV), although four roof hatches are also provided. Despite not having the same protection as a tank, the all-welded steel armor of the BMP-1 was enough to defend the troops and the crew from small arms and artillery. Armament consisted of a 73-mm 2A28 low pressure smoothbore firing HEAT and HEAT-FE rounds as well as 9M14 (AT-3) anti-tank missiles, mounted on a one-man turret. This gave the BMP-1 roughly similar firepower to a light tank, although most subsequent IFVs would prefer to be armed with autocannon given their more rapid fire and their ability to destroy most AFVs except tanks (which the BMP-1 would have struggled against anyway). Additionally, firing ports were provided in the hull so that the infantry could fire from within. Other features included NBC protection and amphibious capability through the use of a trim vane and bilge pumps, with propulsion achieved through its tracks. Thousands of BMP-1s were built in a production run that lasted well into the 1980s, and also included license production in Czechoslovakia, Romania and India, as well as unlicensed production in China as the Type 86 (covered in a separate entry). Modernizations took into account combat deficiencies encountered in the numerous conflicts where it was involved, such as Yom Kippur, Angola, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Syria but was eventually superseded (but never fully replaced) by the BMP-2. Despite being the oldest Russian IFV, it has also seen extensive action in Ukraine with both Russian and Ukranian forces with an estimated 200-300 losses on each side.

The prototype BMP (Ob’yekt 764) which stands for Boyevaya Mashina Pekhoty (infantry fighting vehicle) gave way to the initial production BMP-1 in 1966. Its first major upgrade resulted in the BMP-1P in the mid-1970s taking account lessons learned during the Yom Kippur War. This variant was equipped with 9M111 (AT-4) or 9M111-2 (AT-4B) missiles even though the launchers compromised its NBC protection. The ability to carry anti-air missiles was also provided as well as smoke grenade launchers. A second major upgrade in the 1980s became known as the BMP-1D, and incorporated extra protection against mines and heavy machine guns as a result of combat experience during the Afghanistan War. A command variant was designated BMP-1K and provided field tables and map boards for officers as well as improved communication and navigation systems (follow ups included the BMP-1KSh and -1KshM). Post-Cold War variants include the BMP-1-30 (with a 30-mm V-30 gun and an uprated engine), and the BMP-1M, also with a 30-mm gun and 9M133 (AT-14) missile launchers on a 'Kliver' weapons station, as well as more modern equipment. A similar upgrade using the turret of the BTR-80A is known as the BMP-1AM. There are plans to upgrade remaining Russian units into BMP-1AM standard although only a handful are in service. Non-IFV variants included the BRM-1 reconnaissance vehicle with a wider turret that was moved to the rear of the hull and with additional electronic equipment as well as a six-man crew. There was also the PRP-3 artillery reconnaissance vehicle, the BREM-2 armored maintenance-recovery vehicle (with the turret removed), and the IRM engineer reconnaissance vehicle. The BMP-1 was also extensively modified by its non-Soviet/Russian users, including future NATO members which upgraded them with Western equipment.

Preceded by:


Succeeded by:

BMP-2 (1980)


Length (w/Gun)6.74 m6.74 m
Width2.940 m2.940 m
Height2.150 m2.150 m
Ground Clearance0.390 m0 m
Track2.750 m0 m
Track Width300 mmn/a
Track on Ground3.530 m0 m
Combat13,500 kg13,400 kg
Ground Pressure0.60 kg/cm²0.60 kg/cm²
SuspensionTorsion barTorsion bar
Speed (Off-Road)65 km/h (45 km/h)65 km/h (45 km/h)
Range (Off-Road)550-600 km550-600 km
AmphibiousYes (7 km/h)Yes (7 km/h)
Vertical Obstacle0.80 m0.80 m
Trench2.20 m2.20 m
Engine1 x 300-hp
1 x 300-hp
FuelDiesel: 460 LDiesel
Power/Weight22.22 hp/t22.39 hp/t
Main1 x 73-mm
2A28 Grom

Smoothbore Gun
↑ 33° / ↓ -4° / ↔ 360°
1 x 73-mm
2A28 Grom

Smoothbore Gun
↑ 33° / ↓ -4° / ↔ 360°
1 x 7.62-mm
1 x 7.62-mm
Ammo7.62-mm: 2,000
7.62-mm: 950
Thickness6 - 33 mm6 - 33 mm
Max Effective33 - 40 mm RHAe33 - 40 mm RHAe
Hull Upper Front7 mm / 80°7 mm / 80°
Hull Lower Front19 mm / 57°19 mm / 57°
Hull Upper Sides16 mm / 14°16 mm / 14°
Hull Lower Sides18 mm18 mm
Hull Upper Rear16 mm / 19°16 mm / 19°
Hull Lower Rear16 mm / 19°16 mm / 19°
Hull Top6 mm6 mm
Hull Bottom7 mm7 mm
Turret Mantlet33 mm33 mm
Turret Front23 mm / 42°23 mm / 42°
Turret Sides19 mm / 36°19 mm / 36°
Turret Rear13 mm13 mm