Russia (2018) c100 converted 2020-24

The BMP-1AM in brief

When introduced in the 1960s, the BMP-1 Infantry Fighting Vehicle was a brand new concept, with a futuristic wedge-like, prismatic hull, a very low silhouette, a 2A28 Grom 73 mm low-pressure smoothbore gun and autoloader, coaxial PKT 7.62 mm light machine gun and on top a 9M14 Malyutka missile launcher capable of hitting any tank at three kilometers, all the while carrying eight fully equipped infantry. When appearing in the Soviet Arsenal, the West took notice, being far better than the only equivalent on the west at the time, the German HS.30. Since, stockpiles made it a staple of Soviet armour in the cold war, with some 20,000 made, and largely exported, battle tested across the globe, plus copied by sveeral countries, including the Czech Republic, China, Iran or Sudan.

Fast forward and after the BMP-2, BMP-3, then the end of the Soviet Union, and just plans to upgrade the BMP-3 under the new Russian Federation and continue production of the BMP-3M, foreign analysts estimated the Russian armed forces still had in park some 7,000, and by 2018 c300-500 active in various units, notably motorized riflemen units not counting BRM-1K reconnaissance vehicles.

Modernizing the BMP-1 in the 2000s seemed not appropriate with still large numbers of the better BMP-2 available for upgrades and the incoming Kurganetz 25 entering production, but the new complex built for export now the economy was privatized, needed to continue working its way in the already large base of loyal customers, and target those still having large numbers of ageing BMP-1s across the globe, some 40 countries.

How to modernize the BMP-1

About the hundred or more variants of the BMP-1 has been created, including upgrades over time, starting with the mildly modernized BMP-1P (new Konkurs ATGM) but replacing the turret by a new one sporting a modern 30 mm autocannon seemed the right way. Due to ring mount and weight issue, the simpler swap of turrets (BMP-2 on BMP-1 chassis) called the BMP-1-30 was abandoned and the search for a compatible model led to the Tula's TKB-799 Kliver turret upgrade went nowhere.

Meanwhile, Uralvagonzavod (UVZ)'s design bureau started working on an export upgrade to be presented by April 2018 at the Armiya Forum, in August. The conglomerate, having a large number of different vehicles and turrets at its disposal, looked at the best fitting upgrade for a quick, cheap conversion kit with the least manufacturing possible. It was agreed not to change anything in the chassis, and concentrate only on the turret for a "swap". The perfect candidate was found, the recent one-man turret from the BTR-82 derived from the BTR-80A. Their respective ring mounts were almost compatible and needed a bit of adaptation. The advantage was to have a self-contained, well refined and modern turret with a potent 30 mm autocannon.

Design of the BMP-1AM

The chassis remained the exact same as the original vehicle, so work concentrated on the turret, called the "unified combat module": It integrated the 30 mm 2A72 autocannon derived from the BMP-2's 2A42 and lightened to 84 kg, firing a large array of 30×165 mm ammunition with a rate of fire up to 400 rpm, belt-fed. The 2,4 meters barrel was 36 kgs alone (but with a much longer life), completed by the large breechblock mechanism.

The 30×165 mm shells range comprised the following:
-3UOF8 High-Explosive Incendiary 390+842 g g (HE-I).
-3UOR6. Tracer round, interwoven in the belt at 1:4. same MV 980 m/s, 9-14 sec. burn. detonating fuse set to 4 km.
-3UBR6 armor-piercing, 375 g core, 400 g shell and total 856 g. plus tracer, mv 970 m/s*.
-3UBR8 Discarding Sabot (APDS), with tracer, 222 g piercing core (tungsten alloy) for 304 g, 765 g total, mv 1,120 m/s**
*RHA 60°: 29@ 700 m, 18 mm@ 1,000 m, 14 mm@ 1,500 m.
**RHA 60°: 35 mm@ 1,000 m, 25 mm@ 1,500 m.

The turret elevates to 70° of needed, but only -5°, coupled with the TKN-4GA sight, with an IR channel, fully stabilized. The coaxial PKT LMG capable of 700-800 rpm. The welded turret comes with extra armour forward, with removable bolted panels, and is fitted with two pairs of 81 mm 902B Tucha smoke dischargers for concealment. It was envisioned to add one or two 9K115 Metis ATGM but this was not done, and instead it is carried inside the compartment with the troops. Unlike the previous turret, where the gunner sat in large part inside the hull with the body mostly in the turret, the BTR-82 model is "busy" and the gunner sat much lower, with just his head protruding from the hull. The basket is also larger duen to the autoloader and large belts.

Inside the hull, the infantry capacity is still of eight, with the positions of the driver and commanders in their respective right-side hatches unchanged. The original 1960s engine had been upgraded from the UDT-20 to the UTD-20S1 in between, offiering the same performances. This 6-cyl. 4-strokes water-cooled diesel is rated for 300 hp at 2,600 rpm. There were also a few modifications to ease maintenance. Another item easy to upgrade is the radio, now a R-128-25U-2 capable of 40 km range, new intercom AVSK-2U. Nothing was changed for the drivetrain. Overall, the modifications brings the overall weight from an original 13.2 to 14.2 tonnes.

In service and production (2018-2024)

When presented at Armiya 2018, the vehicle for maketing reasons was named the "Basurmanin", and clearly presented as an export upgrade. But with the ongoing war in the Donbass since 2014, it was abnnounced in June 2019 by MoD Sergei Shoigu that the BMP-1AM was adopted for the conversion of former BMP-1s, starting with the ones in service. An order was placed for an undisclosed number (over 400 total, inclding the T-72BM3, T-80BVM, T-90M) starting later in 2020, and the BMP-1AM returned at the Armiya 2019 and 2020 exhibits with a conversion announced to start in June 2020, but it seems only 37 had been identified as delivered thanks to OSINT so far.

The BMP-1AM was never found a customer so far and it is unlikely to change after the 2022 invasion of Ukraine. Being brand new and rare, there were doubts about their deployment, at least until April 21-22 2022 when the first was spotted. The vehicle remained ellusive but several had been photograpked, and according to Oryx so far, 50 BMP-1AM are either destroyed or captured today, so many more than 37 were produced, with another order probabl in 2022 as budget was scarce to launch production of more modern vehicles. An estimation of 100 converted so far is not far fetch, although purely statistic based on losses.

Related links

Full article on tank encyclopedia
Oryx blog


Dimensions (L-w-h)6.735 x 3.15 x 2.25 m
Total weight, battle ready 14.2 metric tonnes
Crew3+8 infantry
PropulsionUTD-20S1 V6 wc diesel 300 hp/2,600 rpm
SuepensionsTorsion bars
Speed (land/water)65 kph/c7-8 kph
Range (on flat)420l fuel tank, c550 km (road)
Armament30 mm 2A72 autocannon, 7.62 mm PKTM, Metis ATGM
Armor19 mm max.
Total productionEst. 100+ converted as of April 2024, ongoing.


ARMY-2018 forum vehicle

As shot in Kupiansk, Kharkiv oblast (Ukraine), April 2022.


BMP-1AM in Kupiansk, Kharkiv, April 22 2022 from Telegram. Note the BMP-2 style skirts.

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