The new Bakhcha-U-PDS parachute system is going through tests to check its capability of parachuting BMD-4M airborne assault vehicles right into the battle with crew aboard, allowing forces to be rapidly deployed behind enemy lines. It will join service with the Russian Airborne Troops or VDV – which is a separate branch from the Ground Forces – this year.
The Bakhcha-U-PDS system is designed for airdropping the BMD-4M combat vehicle from an Il-76 aircraft, which is traditionally used to transport and drop heavy loads for military purposes. The system includes 11 blocks of main parachutes. Every block has a square of 350 sq. m. The parachute system features the 'assisted inflation' function. It reliably provides the G-alleviation during landing.
The BMD-4M is designed to be able to fight from the moment it touches down after it completes a parachute landing – with the crew already onboard. Russia is the only country in the world capable of airdropping a vehicle together with its crew. Only Russian airborne assault vehicles and armored personnel carriers can overcome water obstacles on the move, without preliminary preparations while same-type vehicles from NATO member states need four hours to prepare for crossing a river. Moreover, they need time to dismantle special floating equipment.
The BMD-4M vehicle is able to be launched from an aircraft and reach the designated targets in a few minutes at a speed of up to 45 mph, opening fire from a range of weapons. Its operational range is 500 km (300 miles) without refueling. The BMD-4M can develop a maximum speed of 70 km/h on roads and 10 km/h afloat.
With a 37 hp/ton power-to-weight and low ground pressure, the vehicle is extremely maneuverable. Like its predecessor, the BMD-4M can traverse water obstacles without any special preparation. The track assembly for the BMD-4M is state-of-the-art and easy to control. The gearbox is automatic and the suspension is more balanced, which is very important when moving across rugged terrain. The vehicle is protected by lightweight aluminum armor that is able to withstand 30mm cannon fire.
The BMD-4M has a crew of three: a vehicle commander, a gunner, and a driver. It can carry up to five troops. The suspension is composed of six small road wheels and four track rollers on each side. Transmission of the vehicle is automatic with five gears for forward and five gears for backwards. Overall crew protection is ensured.
Special lightweight and durable alloys make this possible without the vehicle losing its ability to swim or be airdropped. The more powerful and compact engine of the BMP-3 is integrated into the BMD-4M; providing 500 hp. The hydro-pneumatic suspension allows the BMD-4M to alter its clearance. The vehicle is able to both hug the ground and rise above it – this is necessary for loading onto an aircraft ahead of a deployment and also for camouflage during combat operations.
Both primary armaments of the BMD-4 are all fitted into one turret, consisting of: a 100 mm 2A70 rifled gun, a coaxial 30 mm 2A72 autocannon, and a coaxial 7.62 mm PKT machine gun. The turret is installable on the chassis of other military vehicles. It has an unlimited traversal of 360° and a maximum elevation of 60°; the maximum depression is −6°.
The 2A70 rifled gun is capable of firing guided and unguided shells. 34 ready-to-use unguided HE-Frag shells are carried in the turret of the vehicle. It can effectively hit targets up to 7 km with unguided rounds. The 100 mm gun is fitted with an autoloader that fires at a rate of 10-12 rounds per minute, with the time of each shell loading being 5-6 seconds. A 30 mm 2A72 autocannon is mounted coaxially with the 2A70 rifled gun.
The turret of the BMD-4 contains a total of 500 rounds ready to be used by its autocannon with 245 of them being high explosive and the remaining being armor-piercing discarding sabot. This autocannon fires projectiles with a muzzle velocity of 1120 m/s and a cyclic rate of fire of 350–400 round/min.
The rounds fired can penetrate 22 mm of rolled homogeneous armor (RHA) from a range of 2,000 m while impacting at an angle of 60°. The 7.62 mm PKT machine gun is mounted coaxially with 100 mm and 30 mm weapons. 2,000 rounds are carried in the turret for the PKT machine gun; all combined into one tape to eliminate reloading.
The 100 mm tank gun is also capable of firing the 9M117M1 Arkan anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) which is a further development of the 9M117 Bastion. The turret holds four 9M117M1 missiles and is launched through the 100 mm gun ensuring a crucial advantage due to the loading being completely internal rather than external. While traveling at an average speed of 300 m/s, the Arkan is guided via laser beam riding and is capable of destroying targets up to 5.5 km away.
Secondary armament includes a 5.45 mm RPK machine gun, and a 9P135M launcher post capable of firing additional anti-tank missiles.
The addition of the airdropped armored vehicles will give the airborne troops a massive boost in offensive capability on the ground. With the BMD-4M capable of being airdropped together with the crew and troop, the Russian airborne troops have received a big upgrade in firepower.