The BMP-1 Amphibious Tracked Vehicle was designed and manufactured by the Soviet Union. It is considered to be the world’s first, mass produced infantry fighting vehicle and probably one of the top ten military vehicles produced. The design combined components of the armored personnel carrier with those of a light tank. The Soviet’s designed the interior of the BMP-1 with a radiation shield, which would permit the vehicle to fight in contaminated areas while providing a relatively safe environment for its troops. The BMP-1 not only increased infantry squad mobility, it also provided them with fire support.
Development of the BMP-1
During WWII and into the 1950s, armored personnel carriers (APC) were used to deliver the infantry to the front line, where they would disembark and begin fighting on foot. The carrier would provide fire support using its on-board armament. Inadequate seals and open tops on the earlier designed APCs did not allow for any protection from nuclear or chemical weapons. The same design did not permit troops to begin firing their weapons until after they disembarked.
The initial design of the BMP was drawn up in the late 1950s with a focus on speed, armament and the capability of each squad member to be able to fire from inside the vehicle. The armament chosen for the vehicle would need to be capable of providing direct support for the infantry after it dismounted and to destroy any comparable light armored vehicle.
Initially, various experimental vehicles were configured in an effort to decide if the BMP should be produced with tracks or wheels. Eventually, the tracked vehicle, due in part to it front-engine design – was chosen. The location of the engine allowed troops to quickly mount and dismount the vehicle through its two rear doors. The first prototype emerged in 1964, quickly followed in 1965 by an improved variant. In 1966, the BMP-1 was accepted by the Soviet Union Army and limited production began.
Specifications for the BMP-1
- Service History: 1966 to present
- Designer: Pavel Isakov
- Produced in USSR from 1966 – 1982
- Crew: 3 – commander, driver, gunner
- Occupants: 8 passengers
- Fuel Capacity: 122 gallons
- Operational Range: 370 miles on-road
- 310 miles off-road
- Speed: 40 miles per hour on-road
- 28 miles per hour off-road
- Main Armament:
- 73mm 2A28 Grom recoil semi-automatic gun
- ATGM launcher for 9M14 Malyutka
- Secondary Armament:
- 7.62mm PKT coaxial machinegun
The BMP-1 Amphibious Tracked Vehicle was used extensively by motorized rifle and tank units in Afghanistan, but due to its poor performance a newer variant – the BMP-ID (AKA: Afghan variant) was put into service in 1982.