Russian/Soviet Wheeled APCs II

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RussianSoviet Wheeled APCs II


The BTR-90 is a Russian 8×8 wheeled armored personnel
carrier (APC). Based on its predecessor, the BTR-80, the vehicle dimensions
were enlarged, it was fitted with the turret from the BMP-2 to increase
firepower and the vehicle was in general equipped with upgraded equipment as
compared to the BTR-80. Likes it predecessor the BTR-90 is fully amphibious.
The vehicle was unveiled in 1994 and saw limited production between 2004 and

The BTR-90 is an 8×8 wheeled APC that weighs 46,000 pounds
(21 tonnes), is approximately 25 feet (7.6 meters) long, 10.5 feet (3.2 meters)
wide and 10 feet (3 meters) in height. The vehicle is operated by a crew of 3
and can transport up to 7 troops. The crew consists of a driver who is located
at the front of the vehicle and a gunner and commander who are located in the
turret. The crew ingress and egress the vehicle through a side mounted door,
typical of the Russian BTR series of APCs. The vehicle is powered by a
turbocharged 510 hp diesel engine which is located at the rear of the vehicle.
This provides a power to weight ratio of 22 hp per tonne. The 8×8 wheeled
vehicle can attain 60 mph (100 km/h) on roads and has an operational range of
500 miles (800 kms) with internal fuel. The BTR-90 is also fully amphibious.
Powered by water jets the vehicle can attain speeds up to 5 miles (9 km/hr) in
water. The vehicle is able to cross 7.5 feet (2 meter) wide trenches, climb 3
foot (0.8 meter) high vertical steps and traverse 60% gradients and 30% side

While designed as a chassis that could be configured to
fulfill a wide range of roles within the Russian Army and Russian Navy
(Marines) by offering the superior tactical mobility implicit to wheeled
vehicles, the BTR-90 has only seen low volume production runs, with Russian
Ministry of Defense only incorporating limited numbers of the vehicles into its
forces. This decision is in-line with current Russian procurement philosophy,
which is to not incorporate any further vehicles into the Russian military forces
which are based on older Soviet designs. New procurements are being based
solely upon platforms based on new Russian vehicles designs such as the T-14
and T-15.

This procurement strategy has halted development and
procurement of the BTR-90 as well as other Russian vehicle programs including
the 2S25 Self-propelled Amphibious Tank Destroyer, the BMD-4 and the BMPT
“Terminator”. The 2S25 and BMD-4 are reviewed in this volume as a number of
these vehicle are in service with the Russian military, while the BMPT is not.
Based on the T-72 platform and tailored specifically for asymmetric urban
combat to meet needs identified during the Soviet/Russian experiences from the
Soviet War in Afghanistan and the First Chechen War, the Terminator was never
manufactured beyond the proto-type stage.

The BTR-90 is equipped with the BMP-2 turret which fits the
30 mm Shipunov 2A42 autocannon. 500 rounds of ammunition are carried on-board
for the weapon. Secondary armaments consist of a 7.62 mm coaxial PKT machine
gun with 2000 rounds of ammo and a 30 mm grenade launcher with 400 rounds of
ammo. Firing ports are also provided for the crew. The vehicle can also be
configured with an AT-5 Spandrel (Konkurs) ATGM launching system. The missiles
appear to be able to be attached to the vehicle singularly, in dual pairs, or
as a set of four. Supposedly the missiles can also be detached from the vehicle
and launched by dismounts.

The turret comes equipped standard with a gunner’s day/night
sight and a commander’s optical sight. A thermal imaging sight can also be
installed as an option. A Fire Control System (FCS) is used to aim the main
weapon and the ATGM unit when installed. The 30 mm autocannon is able to be
elevated to 75 degrees, permitting it to be used against low flying aircraft.
The autocannon can engage targets to a range of 2500 meters, while the ATGM can
engage targets out to 4000 meters.

The BTR-90 is fabricated from welded ballistic plate. The
baseline armor offers frontal arc protection against 14.5 mm rounds and
all-around protection against small arms fire. The baseline vehicle armor can
be upgraded with add-on armored plating and/or ERA, though this would adversely
affect the swim capability of the vehicle. The vehicle has an automated fire
suppression system (AFSS) and a smoke grenade system. The vehicle can be fit
with a Nuclear-Biological-Chemical (NBC) detection and filter system.

BTR Wheeled Armoured Personnel Carriers


The BTR-152 6×6 was developed after the Second World War as
the Soviet Union’s very first purpose-built APC. It was manufactured in large
numbers from 1950 and saw service with African and Asian armies. The all-welded
steel hull showed close similarities with American and German wartime designs.
Notably, significant numbers of the M3A1 4×4 scout car and M2 and M5 series of
American half-tracks were supplied to the Red Army under Lend-Lease
arrangements. Likewise the Soviets captured large numbers of the Hanomag-built
range of German half-tracks.

As with these earlier vehicles, the BTR had a front-mounted
engine and an open top crew compartment for the driver and troop compartment
for up to seventeen soldiers. The driver and commander had separate glass
windscreens that could be protected by steel hatches with vision blocks. The
infantry entered and exited the vehicle either via the open roof or through a
single door in the rear plate of the hull. For defensive purposes the vehicle
had six firing ports, three either side and two in the rear plate either side
of the door.

Initially the ZIS-1512½-ton 6×6 chassis was used as the
basis for the BTR-152, though later models utilised the ZIS-157. The
six-cylinder, inline model ZIS-123 was a water-cooled petrol engine generating
110hp at 2,900rpm. The BTR-152’s transmission layout was that of a conventional
6×6 commercial truck with the drive shafts leading to differentials on ‘solid’
axles. The gearbox had five forward speeds and there was a two-speed transfer
box. The tyres had a pressure system regulated by the driver to suit the ground
conditions. Some BTR-152s also featured a front-mounted winch.

Some versions were fully enclosed, such as the BTR-152U
command variant, which has much higher sides to allow staff officers to stand
up inside. The normal armament comprised the standard 7.62mm machine gun or the
heavier 12.7mm or 14.5mm mounted on the hull top. The BTR-152A-ZPU was an
anti-aircraft variant armed with twin 14.5mm KPV machine guns in a rotating
turret. Against aerial targets, these were only effective to 1,400m. They also
carried AP rounds for use against light armoured vehicles, which could penetrate
32mm of armour at 500m, though the guns had a range of 2,000m against ground
targets. Other anti-aircraft variants included the BTR-152D and the BTR-152E.

Some of those supplied to the Egyptian Army were armed with
the Czech quad 12.7mm M53 anti-aircraft system. This comprised four Soviet
12.7mm DShKM machine guns on a Czech-designed two-wheel mount. A number of
these ended up in service with the Afghan Army. Likewise, in 1982 the Israeli
Army encountered BTR-152s being operated by the Syrian-backed Palestinian
Liberation Army that were fitted with a twin 23mm automatic anti-aircraft gun
in the rear of the troop compartment.


The BTR-152’s smaller cousin was the BTR-40, introduced in
1951. This was essentially a redesigned version of the American-supplied M3A
scout car. It was based on the GAZ-63 truck chassis, but with a shorter
wheelbase and was a conventional four-wheel drive armoured truck with a frontal
engine layout. In the event of chemical warfare one variant of this vehicle was
designed for a chemical decontamination role, which included placing flag
markers to warn of contaminated areas. A more conventional version was the
BTR-40A/ZPU; this had an anti-aircraft role mounting twin 14.5mm KPV heavy
machine guns. These were mounted in a manually-operated open turret with a
360-degree traverse and an effective rate of fire of 150 rounds per minute.


The requirement to replace the non-amphibious BTR-152 was
issued in the late 1950s, and the heavy eight-wheeled amphibious BTR-60P entered
service with the Soviet Army in 1961. Since then it has been supplied to armies
throughout the world and was built in Romania as the TAB-72. The BTR-60P was
powered by two GAZ-49B six-cylinder, water-cooled, in-line petrol engines,
developing a total of 180hp. These were mounted in the rear of the welded steel
hull and drove all eight wheels, the front four of which were steerable. The
BTR-60 series was fully amphibious, propelled through the water by a hydrojet
system with a single controllable outlet at the rear. This gave a calm-water
speed of 10km/h compared to 80km/h on land. During deployment in water a bilge
pump was available, together with a trim vane that was normally carried flat on
the nose plate.

The troop compartment (initially for fourteen men but
reduced in later models) occupied the centre of the vehicle with the driver on
the left and the commander on the right at the front. The troop compartment had
no overhead protection but this was remedied with the BTR-60PA or BTR-60PK,
which was fully-enclosed with roof hatches, installed to supplement access
through two small hatches on each side.

The final model, the BTR-60PB, was fitted with a small
turret on the hull roof near the front, mounting a 14.5mm machine gun and a
7.62mm machine gun. It is identical to that fitted to the Soviet BRDM-2
reconnaissance vehicle and the Czech OT-64 APC. While the BTR-60PB was built
under licence in Romania as the TAB-71, the lack of easy access resulted in the
Czech and Polish governments developing the SKOT (OT-64) series for their
armies. Production of the BTR-60 series ended in 1976, resulting in around
25,000 vehicles.


The follow-on BTR-70 first appeared during the November 1980
military parade in Moscow. The hull was of all-welded steel armour with
improved protection over its front arc compared to the BTR-60. In addition the
nose was wider and the front gave added protection to the front wheels. While
the BTR-70 was fitted with the same turret as its predecessor, some were fitted
with the BTR-80 turret. Initial models of the BTR-70 were fitted with the same
wheels and tyres as the BTR-60.

The two GAZ-49B engines were replaced by two ZMZ-4905 petrol
engines, which developed 120hp each compared to just 90hp each in the BTR-60.
Both engines had their own transmission with the right engine supplying power
to the first and third axles, while the left powered the second and fourth
axles. This meant if one engine was out of action the vehicle could still move,
albeit at a slower speed. The exhausts were less boxy than on the BTR-60.
Whereas the BTR-60 could carry up to sixteen men, the BTR-70’s capacity was two
crew and nine passengers. Again Romania produced its own version, dubbed the

Although the BTR-70 was an improvement over the earlier
BTR-60, it still had its problems, not least the inadequate means of entry and
exit for the troops and the two petrol engines which were inefficient and could
catch fire. The Soviet Army first took delivery of the improved BTR-80 in 1984.

Forschungsmitarbeiter Mitch Williamson is a technical writer with an interest in military and naval affairs. He has published articles in Cross & Cockade International and Wartime magazines. He was research associate for the Bio-history Cross in the Sky, a book about Charles ‘Moth’ Eaton’s career, in collaboration with the flier’s son, Dr Charles S. Eaton. He also assisted in picture research for John Burton’s Fortnight of Infamy. Mitch is now publishing on the WWW various specialist websites combined with custom website design work. He enjoys working and supporting his local C3 Church. “Curate and Compile“
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