This year, 150 BMD-4M airborne infantry fighting vehicles and their BTR-MDM trooper carrier models will enter service with the Russian Airborne Forces. In the future all air assault divisions will be armed with BMD-4Ms.
The BMD-4M is a new generation amphibious infantry fighting vehicle (IFV), not a modernized variant of the older BMD-3. It is the only IFV which can be dropped from an airplane using a parachute platform. The vehicle can be paradropped with all the crew inside, thus saving time for the assembly after landing. Launched from an aircraft, it can reach the assigned targets in a matter of minutes at a speed of up to 45 mph, opening fire from a range of weapons. The BMD-4M is able to cover over 300 miles without refueling.
The Il-76 transport aircraft can carry two BMD-4Ms. Once landed, less than three minutes are required to start the vehicle, manage the positions and arm all weapons.
The vehicle can also drive through the water. The BMD-4M boasts the capability of fording water sources and changing tactical approaches on-the-fly. On water it is propelled by two waterjets. The vehicle can traverse water obstacles without any special preparation. The BMD-4M can develop a maximum speed of 70 km/h on roads and 10 km/h afloat.
The vehicle has a length of 6m, width of 3.15m and height of 2.7m. The combat weight: 13.5t. It has a cruising range of 500km on highways. The ground clearance ranges from 130mm to 530mm. The BMD-4M is able to negotiate gradients of up to 35 degrees and maintain fire whilst in motion by traversing the turret and keeping the target in its sights. The BMD-4M has a crew of three: a vehicle commander, a gunner, and a driver. It can carry up to five troops.
The IFV is armed with a 100mm 2A70 semi-automatic gun/missile launcher weighing 332kg. In addition to firing conventional types of ammunition it can also fire a laser-guided projectile out to a maximum range of 5,500 m. A total of 34 100mm rounds are carried for ready use, with another 18 in reserve. Eight Arkan 100 mm laser-guided projectiles are carried, of which four are ready for use, with four in reserve. It takes between for four and six seconds to load a new missile.
The 2A70 gun is coupled to a highly reliable 30mm 2A72 automatic cannon mounted on the turret. Its muzzle velocity is 960m/s. The rate of fire is more than 300 rounds per minute. The rounds fired by the 2A72 can penetrate 22 mm of rolled homogeneous armor (RHA) from a range of 2,000 m while impacting at an angle of 60°.
The vehicle is also equipped with a 7.62mm PKT coaxial machine gun. 2,000 rounds are carried in the turret for the PKT machine gun; all combined into one tape to eliminate reloading.
There are three smoke grenade dischargers each side at the front of the turret. The turret has an unlimited traversal of 360° and a maximum elevation of 60°; the maximum depression is −6°.
An advanced day/night computerized fire-control system allows static and moving targets to be engaged under almost all weather conditions while the platform is stationary or moving. It incorporates a gunner's sight to identify the targets during both day and night, a commander's panoramic TV-aimed sight and an automatic target tracker. The system provides the IFV with the ability to track and engage the targets while on the move. The stabilized day/thermal sight includes a laser range-finder and laser-guidance channel for the 100 mm missiles. An automatic target tracker is also equipped with a satellite navigational system.
Overall bulletproof crew protection is ensured. The BMD-4M’s front armor has been reinforced to survive hits from 30-millimeter cannon shells. The all-welded aluminium chassis and turret protect the crew and infantrymen from small arms fire.
The manned compartment accommodates up to two crew and six infantrymen. The driver is seated in the front and the engine is placed at the rear part of the hull.
The BMD-4M is powered by a multi-fuel, type UTD-29 diesel engine that produces a power of 500hp. An adjustable hydro-pneumatic suspension system connects the vehicle to six dual rubber-tired wheels. The armoured vehicle boasts superior mobility in all terrains, thanks to increased track length and reduced ground pressure. The hydro-pneumatic suspension allows the BMD-4M to alter its clearance. The vehicle is able both to 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.
The running gear and the chassis control system of the upgraded vehicle include more power-plant installation units. The chassis is also incorporated with control linkages, pumping devices and water jet propellers.
In 2018 Russian Airborne Forces will receive the new Bakhcha-U-PDS parachute system to airdrop the BMD-4M carrying seven airborne soldiers from military transport aircraft. The 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 Bakhcha-U-PDS 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 airborne forces will have conducted a total of 46 drops of new hardware under the state joint trial program. About 20 of which have already taken place. The tests include dropping armoured vehicles with their crews inside.
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 proved themselves as technology of the future. With its powerful weaponry, large reserves of ammunition and high speed, it has roved in differing climatic conditions. The vehicle has been airdropped and tested in water, including being redeployed at sea. The IFV enables the Russian assault troops to literally ‘drop from the skies’ and overwhelm enemy logistics units. The addition of the airdropped armored vehicles capable of being airdropped together with the crew and troops gives the Army branch a massive boost in offensive capability that no other airborne troops in the world can match.