Sunday, October 1, 2017

Russia upgrades BMP-2 and BMD-2 IFVs

The Russian Army has contracted the KPB Tula Instrument Design Burea for the upgrade of 540 old BMP-2 and BMD-2 infanty fighting vehicles (IFVs). The complete scope of the upgrade is not known, but it is confirmed that both vehicles will receive upgraded turrets - or "combat modules" in the official Russian military lingo. The BMP-2 will be fitted with the B05Ya01 Berezhok combat module, while the BMD-2 will receive the lighter Bereg combat module.
In theory further improvements could be part of different contracts with other companies, but it seems unlikely that the Russian Army is interested in adopting a heavier armor package or fitting a new engine to these vehicles - it would require large amounts of additional money, which instead can be invested into the development and manufacturing of the next-generation of armored fighting vehicles (AFVs) including the T-14/15 Armata, the Kurganets-25 and the Bumerang wheeled vehicle.
Last year in 2016, the Russian Army contracted the 163rd Armor Repair Plant to overhaul a small quantity of existing BMP-2 IFVs. Overall the company is set to upgrade a total of 327 BMP-2s in the timeframe from 2014 to late-2018. Other comapnies such as the 103rd, 144th, and 560th Armor Repair Plants are also refurbishing existing BMP-2s, boosting the overall number to at least 586, which means that not all of these vehicles will receive the new turret upgrades from KPB Tula.

BMP-2 with combat module "Berezhok" shown in Russian TV
In 2014 the Algerian Army ordered a total of 340 Berezhok turrets for upgrading old BMP-1s and BMP-2s to a more modern standard. These vehicles - apparently designated BMP-1M and BMP-2M, but not to be confused with the Ukranian BMP-1M upgrade - might also feature a larger powerpack such as the UTD-23 engine with 370 horsepower output, aswell as newer types of ammunition. In 2017 a prototype of the 8x8 Bumerang wheeled vehicle fitted with the Berezhok combat module instead of the Bumerang-BM unmanned turret was demonstrated during a military exhibition, although the latter system is commonly believed to be superior.

The Berezhok turret features multiple weapons and a new FCS
The Berezhok turret upgrades retains the 2A42 autocannon - chambered in the 30 x 165 mm calibre - as main armament, but features enhanced secondary armament and a new state-of-the-art fire control system (FCS). This new fire control system enables the IFV to engage targets while being stationary or on-the-move with a high accuracy, it also enhances the capabilities of the IFV against air-targets such as low-flying helicopters.
The FCS now includes two separate optics for commander and gunner. The gunner's sight is fixed to the turret and stabilized in two planes. It offers different magnification levels, which result in a field of view ranging from 20° to 4° depending on zoom level. The sight also includes a thermal imager, but no performance data regarding its sensor resolution or technological generation have been revealed by KBP Tula. Given that most Russian vehicles upgrades make use of optics from the Belarussian manufacturers, which incorporate Catherine thermal imaging modules from the French company Thales, one should expect a rather high quality. KBP Tula's local competitor, Kurganmashzavod is offering BMP-2 and BMP-3 upgrades incorporating thermal imagers from SAGEM, another French company. The integrated laser rangefinder used in the Berezhok's gunner sight has a minimum range of 200 metres and a maximum range of 10,000 metres. The gunner's sight is also used to guide the laser beam-riding Kornet missiles. According to KPB Tula, the RMS error of the sight's stabilization is smaller than 0.1 milliradian. The optic has a boresight laying angle of -15° to +30° in the vertical plain and an angle from -10° to +10° in the horizontal plain.

The upgrade includes new optics, stabilizers, sensors and computer units
The commander is provided with an independent optic, that can traverse 360°. The sight has an elevation up to +60° and maximum depression of -15°. Like the gunner's sight, the new commander's optic includes different magnification levels, a thermal imager and a laser rangefinder with a range of up to 10,000 metres. The RMS stabilization error of the optic is also claimed to be just 0.1 milliradian. The new fire control system also includes digital displays for the operators, a new ballistic computer connected to several sensors - including a cross-wind and a roll sensor - and an automatic target tracker, which has an accuracy of 0.05 to 0.1 milliradians. According to KBP Tula, this is between three to six times the accuracy a human operator can achieve when trying to track a target with the BMP-2's or Berezhok's systems. The new stabilizers fitted to the main gun have a maximum error of 0.3 to 0.5 milliradians and allow a maximum weapon laying speed of 35 to 60 degree per second.

The Berezhok turret carries 300 grenades, 200 rounds of main gun ammo, 8 ATGMs and 2,000 rounds for the MG
Aside of the coaxial 7.62 mm machine gun (MG), a 30 mm automatic grenade launcher (AGL) with vertical stabilization has been added to turret. This weapon is fixed to the turret rear and therefore cannot be turned independently (unlike pintle-mounted weapons or remote weapon stations). The addition of the AGL is rather odd, given that the 2A42 main gun of the Berezhok combat module should provide similar anti-infantry and anti-structure performance, but it seems likely that the AGL was added for some enhanced indirect fire options against infantry. A total of 300 grenades for the grenade launchers and 2,000 rounds of 7.62 mm ammunition are carried inside the vehicle. The 2A42 autocannon is commonly loaded with 160 anti-armor rounds (most likely AP, APDS or APFSDS) and 40 rounds of high-explosive incendiary ammunition.

The Kornet-EM ATGM has a tandem warhead with high armor penetration
On the left and the right side of the turret, dual-launchers for the Kornet anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) have been added. A total of eight missiles are carried inside the upgraded BMP-2 vehicle, four of which are ready to fire. The launcher is compatible with the 9М133-1, 9M133F-1, 9М133M-2 and 9М133FМ-3 Kornet missiles. The 9M133-1 is fitted with tandem shaped charge warhead to combat heavily armored vehicles such as main battle tanks (MBTs) even along the frontal arc. The armor penetration ranges from 1,000 to 1,200 mm into steel, its tandem charge warhead can defeat explosive reactive armor (ERA). The 9M133F-1 is a variant fitted with a thermobaric (fuel-air) HE warhead that is equivalent to a 10 kilogram TNT charge. Both these missiles have an effective range from 100 to 5,500 metres.
The 9M133M-2 is an improved version of the Kornet ATGM, which is also known as Kornet-EM. It has a longer range - capable of reaching targets up to 8,000 metres - and features an improved tandem charge warhead with a penetration of up to 1,300 mm into armor steel. A thermobaric warhead option is also available.
The 9M133FM-3 missile is fitted with a proximity fuze and a larger rocket engine. Its main purpose is to engage aerial targets such as helicopters up to a range of 10,000 metres. A shaped charge warhead option is not available, the missile is always fitted with a slightly smaller thermobaric warhead equal to a 7 kilograms TNT charge. The 9M133FM-3 missile is either fired in a single shot mode or as a salvo of two in an attempt to overcome active protection systems (APS).

The BMD-2 will receive the smaller Bereg turret with only a single missile launcher and without AGL
The BMD-2 will be fitted with the smaller Bereg combat module, which is required to due to the size and weight limitations of the air-mobile vehicle. The Bereg turret has a weight of less than 1.8 metric tons, while the Berezhok turret has a weight of up to 3.25 metric tons. The weight reduction is only possible, because the Bereg is a one-man-turret, the vehicle commander sits in the hull.
Therefore the Bereg doesn't feature an independent optic for the commander, being unable to carry out missions in the hunter-killer mode - otherwise the fire control system seems to be identical, it also features a cross-wind sensor, a roll sensor, modern stabilizers and an automatic tracking unit. The turret is only fitted with a single dual-launcher for Kornet ATGMs and the total missile stowage is reduced from eight to two. The 30 mm 2A42 autocannon remains the main armament, but no 30 mm AGL is added to the turret rear; however the Bereg turret has 300 instead of 200 rounds of main gun ammunition ready to fire.

The latest version of the CV9030 is the only variant with hunter-killer capabilities
The upgrades of the BMP-2 and BMD-2 enhance the capbilities of the obsolete baseline vehicles by a considerable amount. The original vehicles were rather useless against their more modern Western counterparts, which due to their thermal imagers and digital fire control systems had a big advantage over the BMP-2 and BMD-2. In various aspects these upgraded 1980s IFVs can even outperform much more modern vehicles - for example the commander's panoramic sight of the Berezhok turret is an advantage compared to vehicles such as the ASCOD Pizarro/Ulan, the Marder and all currently operational CV90 variants excluding the latest Norwegian models. Its long range, high penetration power and the ability to target helicopters (with the 9M133FM-3 missile) make Kornet a much better missile system than the older missiles used on some NATO IFVs such as MILAN and TOW. The inclusion of an automatic target tracker in the FCS is a further perk of the Berezhok and Bereg turrets.
However just changing the turret doesn't remove all shortcomings of previously obsolete vehicles such as the BMP-2 and BMD-2. Unless Russia also contracted upgrades for armor protection - the basic BMP-2 isn't even protected against 12.7 mm and 14.5 mm heavy machine gun ammunition at the sides - and mobility, these vehicles will still suffer from various drawbacks.

3 comments:

  1. Shame that they are not considering uparmouring the BMP-2, even with appliqué armour. I imagine that you could slap a few of the appliqué passive armour blocks from the BMP-3 on to the BMP-2 without too much difficulty and still retain the swimming capability.

    BTW, mm, could you give me your email? I would like to contact you about something.

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    1. The Finnish Army decided to fit (a tiny bit of) applique armor to their upgraded BMP-2MDs. In general it is rather easy to retain amphibious capabilities during armor upgrades: the armor just needs to have an overall lower density than water... this is very easy to do with spaced (hollow) armor and laminated armor including polymers.

      I guess the Russian military doesn't have much interest in spending a large amount of money on BMP-2 ugprades, given that the Kurganets-25 IFV will replace the BMP series as main IFV in the near future - some current BMP-equipped units might in theory also receive the wheeled Bumerang IFV.
      There are however some other issues. The BMP-2's suspension is not really suited for large amounts of additional weight. Also the upgraded armor might require a larger engine to negate any sort of reduction in regards to mobility. Depending on armor package, there also might be issues with transportation by airplane or train.

      If you want to contact me, just send an email to belowtheturretring[at]gmail.com

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