The BMD-2 is a Soviet airborne infantry fighting vehicle, which was introduced in 1985. It is a variant of BMD-1 with a new turret and some changes done to the hull. BMD stands for Boyevaya Mashina Desanta (Боевая Машина Десанта, literally \"Combat Vehicle of the Airborne\") †. .. It was developed as a replacement of BMD-1 but it failed to replace it completely because of a downfall of Soviet economy in 1980s. NATO gave it the designation BMD M1981/1.
When the Soviet war in Afghanistan broke out the Soviet forces operated BMP-1 IFVs and BMD-1 airborne IFVs. They were both armed with 73 mm 2A28 "Grom" low pressure smoothbore short-recoil semi-automatic gun, 9S428 ATGM launcher capable of firing 9M14 "Malyutka" (NATO: AT-3A Sagger A), 9M14M "Malyutka-M" (NATO: AT-3B Sagger B) and 9M14P "Malyutka-P" (NATO: AT-3C Sagger C) ATGMs and 7.62 mm PKT coaxial tank machine gun. Although their armament made for strong anti-tank firepower, it didn't provide sufficient firepower against enemy unarmored vehicles, infantry, firing points and light fortified positions, especially during mountain battles because of low elevation angle of the main gun.
In 1981 the units fighting in Afghanistan started receiving new BMP-2 IFVs. It's 30 mm 2A42 multi-purpose autocannon with two-belt loading system and very high elevation angle solved some of the serious drawbacks of the 73 mm 2A28 "Grom" gun. Also the 9S428 ATGM launcher was replaced by pintle-mounted 9P135M-1 ATGM launcher with semi-automatic control capable of firing SACLOS guided 9M113 "Konkurs" (AT-5 Spandrel), 9M113M "Konkurs-M" (AT-5B Spandrel B), 9M111 "Fagot" (AT-4 Spigot) and 9M111-2 "Fagot" (AT-4B Spigot B) ATGMs which proved to be much more effective and reliable than the MCLOS guided 9M14 "Malyutka" (AT-3 Sagger), 9M14M "Malyutka-M" (AT-3B Sagger B) and 9M14P "Malyutka-P" (AT-3C Sagger C) ATGMs. Because of that the high command of Soviet airborne forces decided to arm their units with similar vehicles.
In the beginning it became obvious that the hull of BMD-1 is too small for the BMP-2 turret. Therefore it was decided to design two vehicles. The first one was supposed to satisfy the immediate need of a new airborne IFV by modifying the BMD-1/BMP-1 turret, arming it with the same armament as the one on the BMP-2 and then fitting it onto the BMD-1 hull. The second vehicle was supposed to be much bigger to allow fitting of the BMP-2 turret and later became the BMD-3.
The modernized variant of BMD-1 was developed in 1983 and incorporated the new B-30 turret armed with 30 mm 2A42 multi-purpose autocannon, 7.62 mm PKT coaxial tank machine gun and pintle-mounted 9P135M-1 ATGM launcher. After it passed the trials it entered production in 1985.
BMD-2 has a slightly modernized BMD-1 hull and a new turret.
The BMD-1's crew is the same as the one in BMD-1 with slight changes like the fact that the commander no longer operates the left bow-mounted 7.62 mm PKT tank machine gun which was removed because the trials proved that he is too consumed by his primary duties to accurately fire it. He also received the R-123M radio set for communication.
The new turret seats the gunner on the left hand side of the main gun. On top of the turret there's one single piece circular hatch opening to the front. Located in front of the said hatch is the gunner's sight which is the same one as the one used in BMP-2. Another gunner's sight is located on the left hand side of the main gun and moves in vertical planes along with it. It is a high angle of fire sight used when the gunner is aiming at air targets. The vehicle also has additional periscopes that provide it with vision on the sides. A white searchlight is mounted in front of the turret.
The B-30 turret is a modified version of the BMP-1/BMD-1 turret.
The vehicle is armed with stabilized 30 mm 2A42 multi-purpose autocannon and 7.62 mm PKT coaxial tank machine gun (mounted on the right hand side of the main gun). The vehicle carries 300 rounds for the main gun (180 AP and 120 HE) and 2,940 rounds for the machine gun. The main gun can be elevated or depressed between 75° and -5° and can be used to fire at air targets. The turret is also armed with pintle-mounted 9P135M-1 ATGM launcher, on the right hand side of the roof of the turret, with semi-automatic control capable of firing SACLOS guided 9M113 "Konkurs" (AT-5 Spandrel), 9M113M "Konkurs-M" (AT-5B Spandrel B), 9M111 "Fagot" (AT-4 Spigot) and 9M111-2 "Fagot" (AT-4B Spigot B) ATGMs.
The BMD-2 has the same engine and same suspension as the BMD-1 but it has a maximum road operational range of 450 km.
The BMD-2's armour is composed of aluminium as combat experience gained during the Soviet war in Afghanistan proved that the BMD-1's cast magnesium alloy itself would catch fire and burn fiercely, often killing the crew, when hit with a weapon such as an RPG.
Armour thickness is 7 mm on the turret, 15 mm on the front of the hull and 10 mm on the rest of the hull. Hull's front armour has two sections: upper and lower. The upper section is angled at 78° while the lower one is angled at 50°. It's resistant to small arms fire and shrapnel.
The BMD-2 has the same equipment except for the R-123 radio set which was replaced by The R-123M radio set.
BMD-2 entered service with Soviet airborne forces in 1985. They took part in Soviet war in Afghanistan. Later they were used by Russian airborne units of SFOR including the Russian airborne brigade stationed in Tojsici which supported the Operation Joint Guard. It is also used by Russian airborne units stationed in Abkhazia.
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