BMP-2 is a Soviet battle machine which was adapted in the early 1980s. Given the endless production, the number of these vehicles left in the world is still uncountable. Hence, countries such Russia and Ukraine do not mind using it in the ongoing war. But the real question – is it worth it? Isn’t this vehicle outdated beyond any reason? Let’s try to find out.
The development history of BMP-2
Unlike BMP-3, the BMP-2 was not a separate development. It resembles BMP-1 and for a reason – the base of the vehicle almost did not change. What did change is the armament. The 73mm “Grom” cannon used on the BMP-1 was pretty outdated at the time – it would struggle even against enemy IFVs, not to mention tanks or anything heavy.
For that reason a beautiful 30mm 2A42 auto-cannon was developed and installed into the turret of the future BMP-2. This is a really good weapon, which can have incredible rate of devastating fire at 600 rd/min. At this rate of such high caliber bullets flying out of the barrel it is even possible to fight against tanks. 30mm rounds can’t get though the tank’s armor, but they can easily disarm it and make it blind by destroying all the optics and the main gun.
The development of BMP-2 basically ended when the vehicle was adapted by the Soviet Army. No major modernization programs were done until the collapse of the Soviet Union, even though the production of this IFV continued until 2008.
There was a good reason for the Soviet Army not to modernize this vehicle. They were planning to addapt a newer BMP-3, which was developed alongside with the BMP-2. So essentially there was no good reason to bother with BMP-1 and BMP-2.
Russian Federation decided to follow similar pattern of behavior. But unlike the Soviet Union, Russian Army was never prioritized by the government. So instead of producing BMP-3 and supplying Armed Forces with it, the government dreamed about some high-tech next generation war machines which had no chances to ever be produced in decent numbers.
So, no modernization was done on a large scale. Which, luckily for the world, left the Russian army with outdated equipment when they decided to start a big war. However, there was one Russian-designed modification, which could have transferred BMP-2 into a propper modern fighting asset.
Well, this “Berezhok” name actually refers to the turret, rather than to the vehicle itself. The turret can be installed in almost any Soviet made armored car: BMP, BTR, BTD, tanks – you name it. And by all means – it’s great. Apart from the regular auto-cannon and PKT machine gun it features AG-17 grenade machine fun and the number of ATGMs was increased to 4. This, in turn, really increased the fighting abilities of the machine.
Sounds great on paper. Yet, just like with any other Russian made weapon system, it was never supplied in big quantities. So far we know about 11 of them being lost during the current Russian-Ukrainian war. At the same time, Russia has lost at least 743 classical BMP-2s and more than 300 BMP-1s, so the ratio is pretty clear – modern BMP-2M does not represent even 1% of the Russian IFV fleet.
So is it still capable?
The absolute majority of existing BMP-2 is not modernized. And the vehicle itself is now facing extinction. The Russian-Ukrainian war alone claimed more than one thousand of these IFVs already. Which opens the door to discussion if it still makes sense to modernize these vehicles, giving the surging numbers in any countries’ arsenal.
The classical BMP-2 is only good if you have no other option. Or if you are fighting against inferior enemy. Without adequate armor (BMP can be taken out even by heavy machine gun or RPG-7) and anti rocket system, the vehicle is just a coffin for the crew, when fighting more or less advanced foe.
Yet, given the fact, that upgrading these existing BMPs with some more armor and modern electronics, thermals and battle control stations does not cost as much as producing newest IFVs from scratch, it’s definitely not a bad option for developing economies.