Russia’s fleet of armored vehicles has suffered during the invasion of Ukraine.
Main battle tanks ranging from newer T-90s to World War II relics like the T-55 have struggled against Ukraine’s arsenal of Western anti-tank weapons. In the first year of the invasion, Moscow likely blew through half of its stockpile of modern tanks, according to open-source trackers.
In order to fulfill its need for armored vehicles, Russia has been forced to rely more on its antiquated arsenal of infantry fighting vehicles. In fact, Russian forces in Ukraine are currently using one of the first modern infantry fighting vehicles of its kind.
Introducing the BMP-1
The BMP-1 entered service with the Soviet Union more than five decades ago.
The USSR conceptualized the Boyevaya Mashina Pekhoty to center on speed, ordnance, and protection. Since its formal introduction to service in the mid-1960s, this amphibious tracked infantry fighting vehicle has remained a mainstay of Russia’s armored corps.
In the Cold War, the BMP-1 sported modern capabilities that made it a formidable match to foreign near-peers. But this IFV lags behind the newer and more capable armored vehicles that have entered service in the intervening decades.
This week, the open-source intelligence group Ukraine Weapons Tracker released video footage of a destroyed BMP-1.
According to the Twitter handle @UAWeapons, the Ukrainian 110th TDF wiped out a Russian BMP-1 near Zaporizhzhia Oblast using a HEAT munition.
This destroyed BMP-1 joins more than 2,000 Russian armored vehicles already obliterated by Kyiv’s forces throughout the war.
How has the BMP Family Fared in Ukraine?
The BMP-1 was first combat-tested in 1973, when Egyptian and Syrian troops operated these infantry fighting vehicles during the Yom Kippur War against Israel. Over the years, Russia has tweaked its design to keep the BMP relevant in modern conflicts.
The latest iteration, the BMP-3, is fitted with the latest technology, including a new turret and engines. Equipped with a new automatic fire control system and a digital computer, the BMP-3 variant would serve Russia’s offensive efforts well.
However, Moscow lacks a significant reserve of these advanced infantry fighting vehicles.
As detailed by Forbes, over the last year or so, “the Ukrainians destroyed or captured at least 220 BMP-3s, 750 BMP-2s and 300 BMP-1s. The Kremlin is sitting on huge stocks of surplus BMP-1s and BMP-2s—7,200 and 1,400, respectively—but it has zero of the latest BMP-3s in reserve.”
#Ukraine: Presumably in #Zaporizhzhia Oblast, the Ukrainian 110th TDF Brigade hit a Russian BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicle with a HEAT munition dropped from a heavy drone bomber, detonating the ammunition onboard and blowing the vehicle apart. pic.twitter.com/6RRe4JNQdR
— ???????? Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) September 20, 2023
Maya Carlin, a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, is an analyst with the Center for Security Policy and a former Anna Sobol Levy Fellow at IDC Herzliya in Israel. She has by-lines in many publications, including The National Interest, Jerusalem Post, and Times of Israel. You can follow her on Twitter: @MayaCarlin.