Russia’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) is partially overhauling its fleet of BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles (IFV), according to a source in the indigenous defense industry.
“In April 2016, the 163rd Armour Repairing Plant (163rd BTRZ, a subsidiary of the Uralvagonzavod scientific-production corporation, UVZ) signed the contract with the Russian MoD to overhaul a number of BMP-2 vehicles in 2016-2018. The IFVs will receive R-168 radio stations and a digital INTERCOM system. In June 2016, the plant signed a subcontract worth RUB302.9 million (USD4.6 million) with the Rubtsovsk subsidiary of the UVZ Corporation for the modernization of 25 BMP-2 vehicles in 2016-2108. In accordance with the agreement, five IFVs will be overhauled in 2016, 10 in 2017, and 10 in 2018.
The Rubtsovsk facility is also continuing the upgrade of 18 BMP-2 vehicles under the second contract with the 163rd BTRZ. The enterprise will have upgraded a total of 327 BMP-2 IFVs under the State Defense Order (Russian acronym: GOZ, Gosoboronzakaz) rearmament program by end-2018. It delivered to the customer 112 vehicles in 2014 and 112 in 2015. According to the aforementioned contracts, 78 BMP-2 IFVs are to be supplied in 2016. The remaining vehicles will be delivered to the customer in 2017-2018,” the source said.
He added that the several subsidiaries of the UVZ Corporation had been awarded with the contracts to overhaul BMP-2 IFVs for the Russian MoD. “The 560th BTRZ supplied 63 overhauled BMP-2 armoured vehicles in 2014-2015, the 144th BTRZ 10 in 2014, and the 103rd BTRZ 16 in 2014. It should be noted that the 163rd BTRZ will have supplied 170 overhauled BMP-2 vehicles to the MoD by end-2016,” the source said.
Hence, Russia’s military will receive at least 586 overhauled BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles to be issued to the Motor Rifle Troops, for the most part.
The MoD is supposed to be planning to retain a huge number of BMP-2 vehicles in service for the next three to five years. Russian defense analysts unanimously say that the aforementioned IFVs (even overhauled) are rapidly ageing and do not meet modern requirements to full extent. The BMP-2 vehicles being overhauled by the 163rd BTRZ and the UVZ`s subsidiaries are receiving only new radio stations.
They will retain the basic armament suite that includes a 30mm 2A42 Shipunov automatic cannon, a 7.62mm Kalashnikov PKT coaxial machine gun, and a launching unit with one ready-to-launch 9M113/9M113M Konkurs/Konkurs-M (NATO reporting name: AT-5 Spandrel/AT-5B Spandrel-B) anti-tank guided missile (ATGM).
The overhauled vehicles feature extremely weak armour protection (Level 3 STANAG 4569, all-round protection against 7.62mm hard steel or tungsten alloy armour-piercing bullets at a 30 m distance; the front of BMP-2 is reinforced to withstand several hits of 23mm armour-piercing rounds). The IFV lacks both explosive-reactive armour (ERA) and bar-slat protection. “BMP-2 no longer is a modern infantry fighting vehicle that provides sufficient firepower and armour protection on the modern battlefield. I suppose that the MoD will phase these vehicles out of service at an early date replacing them by upgraded BMP-3 or Kurganets-25 vehicles,” the source concluded.
At the same time, the Russian defense industry has developed two variants of drastic BMP-2 upgrade. Tula-based Instrument Design Bureau (Russian acronym: KBP, a subsidiary of the High-Precision Weapons holding) offers B05Ya01 Berezhok manned turret. It incorporates a 2A42 automatic cannon, a 7.62mm Kalashnikov PKT/PKTM coaxial machinegun, a 30mm AG-30 automatic grenade launcher (AGL), six 902B Tucha smoke grenades and four ready-to-launch 9M133 Kornet-E (AT-14 Spriggan) ATGMs. The B05Ya01 turret has received independent sights of commander and gunner with infrared channels and laser rangefinders. It should be noted that a BMP-1/2 upgraded with Berezhok retains basic internal layout of the troops compartment.
The Tractor Plants concern offers the second option of BMP-1/2’s firepower upgrade. It can be described as a comprehensive one. The upgraded BMP-1/2 has retained the organic 2A42 cannon receiving a 30mm AG-17 AGL and two ready-to-launch 9M120 (AT-9 Spiral-2) ATGMs. The hull is reinforced with armour skirts and an additional frontal armour plate.
The level of the BMP-2M’s protection has increased to Level 4 NATO STANAG 4569 (all-round protection against 14.5 mm steel core armour-piercing bullet at a 200 m distance). The vehicle’s protection level can be reinforced by bar-slat armour. The organic UTD-20 diesel is replaced by the UTD-23 (360 hp) turbodiesel engine. The vehicle’s gunner has received new PNK sighting system with integrated thermal imager, commander NKN-AI sight with laser rangefinder, and driver TVK-1 sight with infrared channel. BMP-2M is also equipped with Inei fire extinguishing systems and the KBM-2 air cooling unit.
However, Russia’s MoD is not reported to have ordered the radically upgraded BMP-2 vehicles. Both aforementioned variants are being promoted only on the global arms market. The significant part of the Russian motor rifle units will continue to use ageing BMP-2 with basic armament – for at least several years.
Hence, the introduction of the state-of-the art IFVs, such as Kurganets-25 or T-15 Armata heavy infantry fighting vehicle (HIFV), is a bread-and-butter issue.