Russia’s Soviet-era BMP-3 is getting a mega bucks upgrade

The armored infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) is being thrust into the 21st century with the promise of a new cannon and remote controls.

Russia’s Defense Ministry is considering different variants for robotizing the outdated Soviet BMP-3 IFV. As it stands the most promising blueprints show an unmanned 57mm AU-220M combat module.

What type of vehicle is it and why is it needed?

The BMP-3 is an armored IVF for delivering troops to the frontline – it can also be used to smash through enemy defenses. Plans for an unmanned version represent a crossbreed between a wheeled armored personnel carrier (APC) and a heavy tracked tank.

According to Russia Beyond's military source, essentially the BMP-3 is being transformed into an automatic gun turret on wheels and it’s earmarked to play a big role in future battles.

What will the upgraded BMP-3 be like?

“The arms manufacturer is currently testing a 57mm cannon. With the AU-220M combat module the vehicle will be able to fire 80 rounds of artillery shells a minute, with a striking range of up to 12 km,” the source said.

Currently the Russian army is experimenting with different calibers for the module’s cannon. In the past, all armored IFVs and APCs were equipped with either 30mm or 100mm guns – the former doesn’t possess enough firepower to penetrate some modern armor, while the latter is generally too excessive and impairs the rate of fire and accuracy of the cannon.

The upgraded gun will spit out slugs with a caliber between 30mm and 100mm, not to mention new types of ammo.

“The vehicle will be able to fire 10 projectiles fitted with remote fuzes at a target and, on command, detonate all the charges simultaneously. It will also be able to fire guided munitions – their flight trajectory to the target can be controlled,” he added.

What’s more, the upgraded BMP-3 combat module will be automatic and unmanned. During combat the crew will be inside the most heavily armored part of the vehicle, firing at targets using onboard computers. The operators will select different types of ammunition via a control panel in response to what’s happening on the battlefield.

“The icing on the cake is that it will also be possible to mount the combat module on the Kurganets and Bumerang IFV/APC platforms. The weapon can also be incorporated into helicopter gunships, planes, and warships, replacing their old 30mm cannons,” added the source.

Potentially, every Soviet-era BMP-3 model could be upgraded (see video), amounting to thousands of vehicles both in Russia and those used by militaries abroad.

As a result, the new BMP-3 will be able to fire from stationary positions, on the move, and even while floating on water. Weather conditions and time of day will make absolutely no difference to the vehicle – rain, snow, slush, or scorching heat are no problem. The Soviet monster can also be controlled with a remote joystick, morphing it into a powerful robot capable of performing a whole range of combat tasks without crew onboard.

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