BTR-D (1974)

Airborne Armoured Personal Carrier - circa 500 built

The Soviet Airborne APC

The BMD-1 of 1969 was the world's first airborne IFV, entering service with the Soviet Army, but keeping many flaws due to its compromised nature. Notably a cramped troop compartment which barely accomodated four infantrymen. In practice it was more often three, both to carry the necessary equipment and efficiently dismount. In the beginning of the 1970s, the Volgograd Tractor Factory design bureau under the leadership of A. Shabalin (the original designer of the BMD-1) started working on a derivative version based on the same chassis. The goal was to make it longer, but not heavier. It was intended primarily for the transportation of airborne personnel, airbone, and to reduce costs, shared as many parts from the previous BMD-1 airborne assault vehicle was possible, starting with the chassis. The prototype was tested in 1973, and accepted with little modififications.

This serial airborne APC was completed in 1974, approved for production entering service the same year a "BTR-D". Since then, it was largely produced in the hundreds and deployed within all Soviet paratroopers units. It is still in service to this day, after seeing service in Afghanistan and other theaters of operations, and also in use in other countries. The BTR-D also benefited of a larger chassis and was declined a whole range of variants, most famous of which being the 2S9 Nona-S (see later).

The BMD-1 on which chassis the BTR-D was based on.


The base layout of the BMD-1 was preserved with its engine compartment aft of the hull, followed by the troop compartment and the driver's section forward. Like the BMD-1, the vehicle has a fully enclosed sealed body for NBC protection. Its hull is assembled by welding, using a high-strength aluminum armor. Due to the small mass required, the level of protection is limited to small arms fire and shell fragments, plus small mines. Compared to the BMD-1 howeve rits body is much longer, increased by 48,3 cm and the adjonction of an extra roadwheel. It is slightly better due to the upper front armour having a more slanted angle. It is overall also 60 cm higher and have a small flat superstructure with a hatch on top. The crew consisted of the driver, commander and left bow machine gun gunner, same positions and equipment as in the BMD-1. The driver could see through its hatch when lifted up, or three interchangeable periscopes, the central one swappable with an infrared night vision device. Two seats are installed either side of the driver, one manning a 7.62-mm PKT machine gun, mounted in the upper frontal armor plate in a ball mount. For communication, each vehicle is given a R-123M radio station. For active protection, the BTR-D is also given four 902V smoke grenade launchers. The crew is protected inside from fire by an automatic fire-fighting system, plus the full NBC lining and overpressure. The BTR-D carried overall the same equipment as the BMD-1 plus towing equipment for a ZU-23-2 twin AA autocannon.


The engine compartment is essentially the same as in the BMD-1, housing a diesel V6, liquid-cooled, 5D20. It was rated to 177 kW. Its main clutch, gearbox and side clutches were combined in a compact single power unit with the engine. The BTR-D ressts on six rubberized road wheels and five support rollers per side. The drive sprokets at the back, to avoid using a transmission shaft and keep the vehicle low. Suspension comprises individual hydropneumatic arms like on the BMD-1, allowing to radically change ground clearance from 110 mm to 450 mm. Itt can also change the track tension. This airborne APC uses also the same steel fine-link tracks, with a rubber-metal hinge. Performances are good, also high maneuverability on rough terrain. It was tested capable of climbing a 32-35 ° slope, a 0.7 m vertical wall, 2 m wide trench. It was capable of crossing rivers at 10km/h when swimming, using two water-jet propellers.


The hull comprises two frontal ball-mounted MG, while the troop compartment section, higher than on the BMD-1, comprises and observation windows placed in the frontal armor plate of this compartment, closed by armored shutters. Two more 7.62-mm PKT machine guns could be installed in pistol ports's ball mounts, to fire on the move plus another in the back exist hatch. Variants introduces either a rotating remote turret (PKT MG) on the roof of the troop compartment, or two 7.62-mm PKSM machine guns, one 30-mm automatic grenade launcher AGS-17 "Flame" at the front. The "human armament" is carried by the vehicle: Ten fully equipped paratroopers. They dismount through two hatches in the roof of the troop compartment or the back door aft. These pistol ports are assisted by Periscopic observation devices. So technically the base APC could fire five PKTs on the move. The paratroopers had they own AK-47s and grenades, portable mortar, and in the 1970s, small AT missiles (like the "Spandrel") could be carried by reducing the crew. The standard onbooard became the PKB general purpose machine guns in the 1980s, and pintle-mounted automatic grenade launchers like the AGS-17, AGS-30 or AGS-57 could be fitted as well as PKM, 6P41, "Utyos" or "Kord" machine guns.


BTR-DG (Ob'yekt 925G)

Cargo variant without bow machine guns, firing ports and periscopes. The troop compartment was modified to serve as a cargo compartment. At least one was converted into an airborne SPAAG fitted with a specially built three-legged ZU-23-2 twin anti-aircraft autocannon mount over the roof of the cargo compartment.


A BTR-D converted into an airborne armoured ambulance.


(BREM-D stands for bronirovannaya remonto-evakuatsionnaya mashina desanta – armoured maintenance-recovery vehicle of the airborne) (Ob'yekt 932) – BTR-D converted into an airborne ARV. It carries specialized equipment for the repair and recovery of BMD-1 type vehicles. This equipment includes a light collapsible crane stored on the roof of the personnel compartment, which can be traversed through 180°, a recovery winch, a combination spade and dozer blade, a generator, towing equipment, electric welding system, tools and ready use spares. One of the 7.62 mm bow PKT tank machine guns was eliminated. This entered service in 1989 in very small numbers.

BTR-RD "Robot"

BTR-D converted into an airborne ATGM team carrier with two 9P135M-1 ATGM launchers capable of firing 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. They can be used by the dismounted ATGM squad or fitted on a pintle mount on the right side of the hull. This is basically a BTR-D with a pintle mount added and with missile racks inside the troop compartment.

BTR-ZD "Skrezhet"

(ZD stands for zenitnaya ustanovka) – BTR-D converted into an airborne air defense vehicle for carrying two MANPAD teams. The vehicle is fitted with racks for spare MANPAD missiles. It also is fitted with external stowage rails for a MANPAD on the right hand side of the roof of the troop compartment. It can also carry a complete ZU-23-2 twin anti-aircraft autocannon mount on the roof of the troop compartment.

NPDU "Sterkh"

(NPDU stands for nazemnyj punkt distantsionnogo upravleniya) – BTR-D converted into an airborne unmanned aerial vehicle carrier and launch vehicle of the "Stroy-P" set. It is used to launch Yak-061 "Pchela-1T" UAV for reconnaissance or jamming at ranges up to 60 km. The single-rail launcher is mounted on left hand side of the roof of the hull. It has large three-piece tube on forward right hand side of the roof of the hull. It entered service in 1990.[2][3] The Malakite was an improved NPDU Sterkh.

BMD-1KSh "Soroka" (Ob'yekt 926)

(KSh stands for komandno-shtabnaya – command and staff) – airborne command post equipped with the R-123M, R-111 and R-130M or R-134 radio sets, as well as an AB1 portable 1 kW generator, the TNA-3 navigation system, folding CLOTHES HORSE type antennae around the superstructure and two slim antenna masts. Bow mounted machine guns and firing ports were removed. The commander's hatch is offset to the left and does not project forward. It's sometimes called BMD-KSh or KShM-D.

BMD-1R "Sinitsa"

(R stands for radiostantsiya – signals vehicle) – Division-level command and signals vehicle equipped with R-161A2M radio set, one heavy telescopic antenna mast stowed along the left hand side of the roof of the hull and one slim elevatable antenna mast on the rear right hand side of the roof of the personnel compartment. Only a small number was delivered.

R-440-ODB "Kristall-BDS"

BTR-D converted into an airborne satellite communications vehicle with R-440 system with a range of 15,000 km. The vehicle has a roof-mounted satellite dish AK-12 that is covered with a cage-like structure during transport.

1V119 "Reostat"

BTR-D converted into an airborne artillery battalion fire direction vehicle. The vehicle is fitted with a turret equipped with NNP-21 and V-7 observation devices, three R-173 and R-159 radiosets, PAB-2AM aiming circle, three antennae mounts, DSP-30 and DAK-2 rangefinders. The turret was also equipped with PSNR-5K (1RL-133-1) "Tall Mike" ground surveillance radar mounted on the roof of the turret. Located over the turret front sights were the visors hinged in the center.

2S9 Nona-S (Ob'yekt 925S)

Airborne self-propelled mortar, armed with a 120 mm 2A60 mortar. Entered service 1981.


Belarus: 117 in 1995, 22 in 2000, 2003 and 2005.
Moldova: 44 BMD-1, BMD-1P and BTR-D.
Russia: 280 in active service.
Ukraine: 40 in 1995, 42 in 2000 and 44 in 2005.
Uzbekistan: 70 in 1995, 50 in 2000 and 2005.

The BTR-D in service

The BTR-D entered service in 1974, first deployed during the Soviet–Afghan War, and revealed for the first time to NATO in 1979. Today like in the past, BTR-D are/were deployed in Russian units and bases, under diverses readiness status:

-The 76th Guards Air Assault Division (Pskov, Western Military District) (30 BTR-RD, 49 BTR-ZD): 104 and 243th airborne regiments, 1140th artillery regiment, 165th independent air defense division, 656th independent engineer battalion, 728th independent communications battalion and 7th independent repair battalion

-The 98th Guards Airborne Division (Ivanovo): 27 BTR-RD, 38 BTR-ZD: 217, 331st airborne regiments , 1065th artillery regiment both from Kostroma, 318th independent air defense division, 661st independent engineer battalion, both from Ivanovo and the 674th independent communications battalion and 15th independent repair battalion, Pskov

-106th Guards Airborne Division (Tula, Western Military District): 132 BTR-RD, 49 BTR-ZD. Cromprises the 51st, 137th airborne regiments from Tula and Ryazan, 1182nd artillery regiment (Yefremov), 107th independent air defense division (Donskoy), 332nd independent engineer battalion, 731st independent communications battalion, 15th independent repair battalion, all from Tula.

-7th Guards Mountain Air Assault Division (Novorossyysk, Southern Military District), 108th airborne regiment (Novorossyysk), 247th CDO regiment (Stavropol), 1141st artillery regiment (Anapa), 30th independent air defense division (Novorossyysk), 629th independent engineer battalion (Starotitarovskaya), 743rd independent communications battalion (Novorossyysk), 6th independent repair battalion (Novorossyysk).

-31st independent airborne brigade (Ul'yanovsk, Central Military District): 57 BTR-D, 24 BTR-RD, 19 BTR-ZD -The 45th independent Spetsnaz regiment from Kubinka, in Moscow has just one 1 BTR-D.

-The Ryazan airborne troops institute (had 6 BTR-D, 5 BTR-RD, 2 BTR-ZD and 2 BMD-1KSh for instruction).

BTR-D related links

The BTR-D on Wikipedia On
More photos

BTR-D specifications

Dimensions (L-w-h)5.41 x 2.53 x 1.97 m (17.7 x 8.3 x 6.46 in)
Total weight, battle ready8.3 Tonnes (27,000 lbs)
Crew3+10 (Driver, MG-Gunner, Cdr, 10 infantry)
Propulsion5D-20 V6 diesel 241 hp (180 kW) P/w 28.4-30.1 hp/t
SuspensionsHydraulic independent torsion-bar
Speed (road/offroad/water)61/35/10 kph
Range (road/water)500/115 km (372/71 mi)
Armament2x 7.62 mm bow PKT MGs (2,000 rds), see notes
Armor6 mm (0.2 in) overall, 15 mm at 78° upper hull front
Total productionApprox. 500
Basic BTR-D

BTR-D drop
BTR-D in drop configuration, low spring suspensions

Basic BTR-D SFOR in peace keeping operations in Bosnia 1997

BTR-D of the UN in Bosnia 1997

BTR-D San (Ambulance)

BTR-D Robot
BTR-D Robot, the antitank version

BTR-D converted as antitank, Ukrainian

BTR-ZD Skrezhet


Ukrainian BTR-DR.

BTR-D camouflaged at Omsk 2009

BTR-D in a parade reharsal.

BTR-D of the 106th Guards Airbone Div..

BTR-D Competition 2011

Russian BTR-D (2016)

Ukrainian BTR-ZD





1v119 Reostat
1v119 Reostat.

Yako-Pchela variant.

Cold War Tanks

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Cold War Soviet Army


They go hand in hand.

Tanks had no tactical manual when first used. It was learned the hard way and perfected over decades, as well as weapons, countermeasures and accompanying vehicles.