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Russian VDV Are Getting New Armor This Year

February 12, 2015

Russian BMD-4 tank

Despite the fallout from sanctions and low oil prices, the Russian government is continuing its long-term rearmament program.

Neglected for almost 20 years, the VDV, or the elite airborne branch of the Russian armed forces, are receiving two new vehicles.

According to Sputnik International, the successor of the defunct RIA Novosti news agency, these are the BMD-4M and the BTR-MD Rakushka.

Sputnik cited Major General Andrei Kholzakov, a “deputy commander” of the VDV, who revealed during a TV interview the vehicles enter service this 2015 after passing their test phase last year.

Sputnik added that by 2025, 1,500 BMD-4M’s and 2,500 BTR-MD’s are expected to augment the VDV’s armor.

The BMD-4M is the latest in the BMD series of vehicles. The former Soviet Union is the only major world power that mass-produced a light tank for its paratroopers.

The original BMD was introduced in 1970. It functioned as a multipurpose armored vehicle with the turret of a BMP-1 APC. The BMD-1, as it came to be known, could be dropped by parachute from an IL-76 transport and had ample space in its rear for paratroopers.

The BMD-1 was used by Soviet forces in Afghanistan and then by Russian ground troops in the Caucasus. Even with thin armor, the BMD-1 was unique because it was air transportable and–like most Soviet tanks–amphibious. The shape of its hull allows it to ford rivers and streams.

A better variant, the BMD-2, had the turret of the BMP-2 and other slight improvements. The BMD-3, developed in the 1990s, was a complete overhaul of the model.

Although the US Army fielded its own airmobile light tank, the M551 Sheridan was too vulnerable for continued use and was withdrawn by 1996.

The BMD series, on the other hand, is alive and well. To date, aside from the BMD-1, 2, and 3 there exists a self-propelled mortar variant called the 2s9 Nona and its heavier sibling the Anona.

The BMD series manufacturer, the Volgograd Tractor Factory, also rolled out the Sprut-SD in the early 2000s. It’s a lightweight amphibious tank armed with a 125mm smoothbore gun fed by an autoloader. Only a few are believed to be in service

The profile of the BMD-4M on Military Today reveals a platform bristling with armaments. Based on the larger hull of the BMD-3, the BMD-4M supports the turret of the BMP-3, provided by Kurganmashzavod, which is armed with a combination 100mm main gun and a 30mm cannon.

To augment its impressive firepower, the BMD-4M carries an AT-5 Spandrel ATGM, two hull-mounted machine guns, and another hull-mounted 30mm automatic grenade launcher.

The BMD-4M uses a 450 horsepower diesel engine.

A further development of the BMD series is the BTR-MD Rakushka. Based on its appearance, it’s a BMD whose hull is fitted with a protective enclosure for transporting paratroopers.