From the base to “Basurmanin”. Problems of modernization of the BMP-1

Serial BMP-1. Photo Wikimedia Commons

The Russian army has a large and well-developed fleet of various types of infantry fighting vehicles. Its oldest representative is the equipment of the BMP-1 family – both linear armored vehicles and products based on them. They are old and outdated. To continue the operation of such equipment, repair and deep modernization are required. However, until recently, this issue had no solution.

A sample from the past

The BMP-1 was put into service in 1966 and then went into production. The production of this equipment was launched at several domestic enterprises. The construction of the first model of the BMP continued in our country until 1983, after which it was completely replaced by the production of the newer BMP-2. By this time, more than 20 thousand armored vehicles had been produced. The main recipient of the equipment was the Soviet army; some of the products were transferred to friendly countries. In addition, licensed production was organized in several states with Soviet support.

According to the IISS reference book The Military Balance 1991-1992, in the early nineties, the Soviet / Russian army’s BMP fleet included 16.5 thousand units, and a significant part of it were vehicles of the first model. There was also a large stock of equipment at storage bases. Subsequently, the number of BMPs in combat units and in reserve was reduced, mainly due to older models.

Experienced BMP-1M with the Cleaver combat module. Photo

The Military Balance for the current year shows how the BMP fleet has changed by now. According to the IISS, only 500 BMP-1 BMP-1s remain in combat units now, and approx. 7 thousand cars are in storage. At the same time, the BMP-1 has long lost its leadership in number in the ranks. The reasons for this are obvious, and the main one is moral and physical obsolescence.

Update problem

Various options for updating and improving the BMP-1 have been developed since the seventies. For example, in 1979, a modification of the BMP-1P entered service with the new 9K111 Fagot missile system and smoke grenade launchers. A few years later, a version of the BMP-1D appeared with enhanced protection, but without missiles and the ability to sail – it was intended for use in Afghanistan.

In the nineties, new attempts to modernize the aging armored vehicle began. A number of organizations offered their own options for updating the BMP-1 with the replacement of certain units. Basically, such projects were intended to improve combat performance and provided for the replacement of standard weapons.

Thus, the BMP-1-30 “Razbezhka” project provided for the installation of a turret from the BMD-2 assault vehicle. Together with it, the infantry vehicle received a 30-mm 2A42 automatic cannon, a PKT machine gun and a Fagot / Konkurs missile system. The possibility of installing a BMP-2 turret with similar weapons was also considered. It was assumed that after such a modernization, the BMP-1 would get rid of the characteristic shortcomings of the 2A28 “Thunder” gun.

From the base to

BMP-1M from “Muromteplovoz”. Photo by

Several projects were proposed with a general BMP-1M index. In the version from the Tula Instrument Design Bureau, it provided for the installation of the TKB-799 Kliver combat module with a 30-mm 2A72 cannon, a machine gun and four 9K135 Kornet ATGM missiles. The project of the same name from the Muromteplovoz enterprise proposed replacing the original tower with combat modules MB2-03 or MB2-05. With this modernization, the BMP-1 received a 2A42 cannon, a PKTM machine gun and an AGS-17 grenade launcher or Konkurs missiles.

All options for upgrading the BMP-1 were demonstrated at exhibitions and offered to a potential customer in the person of the Ministry of Defense. However, there were no orders, and the projects did not progress beyond the assembly and testing of experimental equipment. At that time, the army had not yet decided on the need for mass modernization of the BMP-1, and besides, it did not have sufficient funds.


In 2018, at the Army forum, NPK Uralvagonzavod presented for the first time yet another project to modernize an infantry fighting vehicle – BMP-1AM Basurmanin. This project again proposes the replacement or alteration of part of the units, and the main attention is paid to the renewal of the armament complex.

As part of the modernization, Basurmanin receives an UTD-20S1 modification engine manufactured by the Barnaultransmash plant; the transmission and chassis are being repaired and refurbished. New displacement wings are used to improve performance on the water.

BMP-1AM on “Army-2018”. Photo by Wikimedia Commons

The standard fighting compartment of the BMP-1 in the AM project is being replaced by a turret cannon and machine gun mount from the BTR-82A armored personnel carrier. She carries a 30-gun 2A72, a PKTM machine gun, a 9K115 Metis ATGM and smoke grenade launchers. A combined sight TKN-4GA-01 is used for guidance. The old radio station R-123M is being dismantled and replaced with the modern R-168-25U-2, which ensures its integration into modern command and control systems.

The BMP-1AM retains the length and width of the base vehicle, but the height increases to 2.55 m. The combat weight increases to 14.2 tons. The running characteristics remain the same. The crew, as before, includes three people. There are still 8 soldiers in the troop compartment. The exit is through the aft doors or upper hatches.

“Basurmane” are coming

The first demonstration of the BMP-1AM vehicle took place at Army-2018. At the same time, reports appeared in the press about the start of serial modernization in 2019, but the details were not followed.

“Demonstration performance” of armored vehicles. Photo

In June last year, the leadership of the Ministry of Defense revealed plans for the production of new armored vehicles and the modernization of existing vehicles. Until the end of 2019, it was planned to supply 400 armored vehicles of various types to the troops, incl. BMP-1AM after modernization. In what quantity and where such equipment should have been received, it was not specified.

Last year’s news directly indicated the launch of a serial modernization of existing infantry fighting vehicles. However, the adoption of the modification “AM” in service was not reported. Moreover, information of this kind is still lacking.

At the end of June this year, interesting photos appeared on profile resources. A train with Basurmans on platforms in the amount of 15-20 units was seen near Barnaul. Most likely, these were serial modernization vehicles heading to the duty station. Thus, the fact of assembling the BMP-1AM is confirmed, and the score for these machines is already in dozens. It should be borne in mind that the “Barnaul” batch of armored vehicles may not be the first.

Transportation “Basurman” by rail. Photo

Obsolete and promising

Currently, approx. 500 BMP-1. This technique has long become obsolete, but they are not going to write it off yet. The consequence of this is the project for the modernization of the BMP-1AM “Basurmanin”. Its implementation has already started, and the first updated machines by now could get into parts.

It is easy to see that the Basurmanin project, with all its advantages, provides for a limited revision of the original design. In fact, only the fighting compartment is replaced, while the power plant as a whole, the armored hull, etc. remain the same and retain the original characteristics. As a result, some of the parameters and capabilities are improving, but otherwise it remains the old BMP-1. With all this, modernization does not require large costs.

The BMP-1AM project has both pros and cons. However, it is a forced and temporary measure, and its main goal is to maintain the operability and suitability of outdated equipment. The extension of the resource and the replacement of weapons will allow the updated combat vehicles to remain in service for another 10-12 years. And by the time the Basurman is decommissioned, the army will have time to obtain a sufficient number of new-generation infantry fighting vehicles and carry out a full-fledged re-equipment with all the desired results.

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