BMP-23/30

     Notes:  Though the Bulgarians used the BMP-1 IFV for the 1970s and most of the 1980s, they opted to go a different route instead of converting to the BMP-2.  Instead of simply buying or license-producing BMP-2s, they opted to produce a new IFV based on the MT-LB chassis instead of the BMP-2.  This allowed for armor sloping on the sides as well as the front, and give the crew and passengers a bit more room and amenities, as well as benefitting from the MT-LBís better cross-country performance and suspension.  The Bulgarians also mixed in components of the 2S1 Gvodzdika, such as the more powerful engine, and this made up for the generally heavier weight of the BMP-23.  The BMP-23 series appears to be used only by Bulgaria; recent deployments include IFOR, KFOR, and a deployment to Iraq. The BMP-23 was first seen in a parade in 1980.

 

The BMP-23

     Though armor is still considered poor, it is much better than its MT-LB base.  Armor is simple cast steel, with moderately-sloped sides and belly reinforcement.  An automatic fire detection and suppression system is fitted, for the engine, fuel tanks, and ammunition storage as well as for the crew compartments, and these have manual pull-handle backups.  On each side of the vehicle are three firing ports, and both of the rear doors also has a firing port. The forward firing port on each side will accept a PK machinegun as well as an AK-type assault rifle; this is also true of the rear firing ports. The engine is mounted well forward in the front of the hull, which helps protect the crewmembers and passengers. 6 smoke grenade launchers are located on the turret roof in a single cluster.

     The turret is large for a vehicle of its class, as it is based more on the 2S1 than the BMP-2, and mounts a 23mm autocannon with a coaxial machinegun.  Originally, the BMP-23 was also armed with an AT-3 ATGM launcher, but later an AT-4 and even later an AT-5 launcher was mounted instead. (Technically, these later vehicles are designated BMP-23A, and they also have their smoke grenade launchers split into clusters of three on either side of the turret.)  The ATGM is aimed and guided by the commander, who must have his head, shoulders, and chest outside the hatch to accomplish this, as the ATGM launcher is mounted beside the commanderís hatch. The turret is mounted fairly well back on the hull, and it a two-man turret; the driver is well forward in the hull on the right side.  Behind him and to the left is a rectangular hatch which primarily for loading ammunition for the vehicle.  The gunner and has magnified day and night vision devices, and the driver can replace his forward vision block with a night vision block.  The commander has no night vision devices, except for an IR searchlight which he can use in conjunction with night vision goggles.  The passengers have seats down the middle of the compartment, with a separate seat facing to the rear. Two small roof hatches are found in the passenger compartment.  The fuel tank is found in the floor of the interior of the passenger compartment, something that would not give me the warm fuzzies.  The large size of the passenger compartment allow the troops to carry a lot of ammunition and weapons, basically everything an infantry squad might possibly need, as well as rations, water, and boiling pots and plates.

     The engine is a 315-horsepower (some sources say 302 horsepower) YaMZ-238N diesel engine, with a semiautomatic transmission.  The BMP-23 is amphibious with little preparation, propelled in the water by its tracks, though a bilge pump must be turned on (requiring only a flip of a switch) and a trim vane must be extended at the front.  The trim vane keeps the driver from seeing through his vision blocks, so the driver must be head out of the vehicle or must install an extended-height vision block.  Other devices carried by the BMP-23 include a heater, an inertial navigation system, a collective NBC system, a chemical sniffer, a radiation meter, and the ability to lay a smoke screen by injecting diesel into its exhaust.

 

The BRM-23

     The BRM-23 is an armored reconnaissance variant of the standard BMP-23.  As such, it mostly conforms to the same specifications as the BMP-23, but is equipped with a number of specialist devices to suit its role.  Like most such vehicles, the crew of the BRM-23 may find themselves as much as 100 kilometers in front of the main body of vehicles, acting as their eyes and ears and conducting route reconnaissance.  Though not strictly an IFV or APC, it is included here for completeness. 

     The crew of the BRM-23 consists of the commander, gunner, and driver, plus a dedicated communications specialist and navigator.  Up to two other scouts may be carried as the mission and space inside permit.  Additional equipment include a hand-held laser rangefinder that can also function as a designator and can be removed from the vehicle and mounted on a tripod, an extra hand-held passive IR device which can also be removed from the vehicle and placed on a tripod, an inertial navigation system which includes mapping computers and a radio modem to allow the BRM-23 to transmit its findings back to higher headquarters at a range of up to 120 km, numerous pivoting periscopes with magnification (one at each regular crew station), and artillery aiming circle mounted as part of the commanderís cupola. The BRM-23 has two additional medium-range, two additional long-range radios (one of which has the radio modem), and one additional short-range radio, which is used primarily to communicate with the short-range hand radios carried by the crewmembers. Mine detectors are mounted in the front hull, and one which is hand-held is also carried.  More capable chemical and radiation detectors are carried, as well as a detector which has a rudimentary ability to detect biological agents.  The BRM-23 has an NBC overpressure system.  The number of firing ports are reduced; two are found on the right side and one on the left side, with one in the right rear door.  Both the commander and the gunner have night vision devices. At the rear of the BRM-23 is a large folding aerial that provides short-range ground surveillance radar as well as radar and radio detection.  Recently, a GPS system has begun to be fitted to the BRM-23 fleet, but large-scale deployment has been beset by budgetary problems. 

 

The BMP-30

     Hull-wise, the BMP-30 is virtually identical to the BMP-23; however, the turret is a slightly-enlarged version of the BMP-2ís turret, armed with a 30mm autocannon.  The BMP-30 version was first observed by the West in 1982, and apparently supplements rather than replaces the BMP-23.  The new autocannon is much-better stabilized and has better fire control equipment than the BMP-23, as well as firing a more effective round.  Both the commander and gunner have night vision devices, but range is limited to 400 meters.  The ATGM used on the BMP-30 is either an AT-4 or AT-5; the AT-3 is not used with the BMP-30.  The smoke grenade launchers are moved to either side of the turret, with three on each side. The roadwheels are lighter models, and the entire suspension, though offering a smoother ride, is likewise lighter than the BMP-23s suspension. Otherwise, the specifications of the BMP-23 apply to the BMP-30.

 

Vehicle

Price

Fuel Type

Load

Veh Wt

Crew

Mnt

Night Vision

Radiological

BMP-23

$103,993

D, A

2 tons

15.2 tons

3+7

9

Passive IR (D, G), Image Intensification (G)

Shielded

BRM-23

$423,993

D, A

600 kg

15.7 tons

5+2

12

Passive IR (D, G, C), Image Intensification (G, C)

Shielded

BMP-30

$135,704

D, A

2 tons

15 tons

3+7

9

Passive IR (D, G, C), Image Intensification (G, C)

Shielded

 

Vehicle

Tr Mov

Com Mov

Fuel Cap

Fuel Cons

Config

Susp

Armor

BMP-23

135/95

33/20/2

560

158

Trtd

T3

TF6  TS6  TR4  HF8  HS5  HR3*

BRM-23

131/92

32/19/2

560

163

Trtd

T3

TF6  TS6  TR4  HF8  HS5  HR3*

BMP-30

136/95

33/20/2

560

156

Trtd

T3

TF10  TS6  TR6  HF8  HS5  HR3*

 

Vehicle

Fire Control

Stabilization

Armament

Ammunition

BMP-23/BRM-23

+1

Fair

23mm 2A14 Autocannon, PKT, AT-3, AT-4, or AT-5 Launcher

600x23mm, 2000x7.62mm, 4xAT-3, AT-4, or AT-5 ATGM

BMP-30

+1

Fair

30mm 2A46 Autocannon, PKT, AT-4 or AT-5 Launcher

1000x30mm, 2000x7.62mm, 4xAT-4 or AT-5 ATGM

*Floor and deck (turret and hull) armor is 3.