In 2007, the Republic of Georgia purchased 15 unique and improved BMP-1U combat vehicles from Ukraine. A year later, Russia invaded Georgia, and Russian troops reportedly captured each Georgian BMP-1U.
Russian engineers reported that they spent some time inspecting the upgraded BMPs before parking them somewhere. Fifteen years later, the Kremlin recovered some or all of the captured Georgian IFVs, assigned them to a frontline Russian army unit, and sent them back to Ukraine.
The BMP-1U was already the subject of a military farce when, earlier this month, at least one of the ex-Ukrainian ex-Georgian vehicles joined a near-suicidal direct assault on Ukrainian positions in and around Avdiivka, Donetsk Oblast, in eastern Ukraine. .
The terrified crew of a BMP-1U, perhaps correctly sensing that they were about to eat a Ukrainian missile, retreated and ran over the Russian infantry sheltered behind the nine-person, 13-ton vehicle, probably seriously injuring, if not killing. , at least to one soldier.
Seconds later, a Ukrainian anti-tank missile hit the BMP-1U. The explosive punchline to a tragic wartime prank.
Of course, the universe would focus its dark humor on the BMP-1U, a vehicle that is both a symbol of the cruel irony of war and a battlefield taxi for mechanized infantry.
The Ukrainian armed forces inherited more than 2,500 BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicles from the Soviet Army when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. The type remains Ukraine’s second-most numerous IFV after the better-armed BMP-2.
But the BMP-1 has defects. Big some. Not only is the BMP-1 lightly protected with steel armor only a quarter-inch thick, but its 73-millimeter low-pressure cannon lacks striking power.
To improve the firepower of some of its BMP-1s (and make surplus vehicles more valuable on the export market), the Kiev Scientific and Technical Center for Artillery and Small Arms swapped the BMP’s old turret for one. new with a much broader structure. Powerful 30 millimeter automatic cannon.
The new, larger turret displaces two of the BMP-1’s usual eight passenger seats.
Georgia purchased 15 of these BMP-1Us from Ukraine and put them into service just before Russia invaded the small republic in August 2008. Russian troops reportedly quickly captured Georgia’s original 15 BMP-1Us.
The vehicles were stored in Russia. And it’s not difficult to understand why. The Shkval turret of the U model is made from Ukrainian parts. Keep some Of the approximately 15 BMP-1Us in operation, one BMP company might have to cannibalize the rest of the BMP-1U.
The fact that the Russians were willing to accept these logistical complications and reactivate the BMP-1Us this year speaks to their desperate need for IFVs. The Russian military expanded its war in Ukraine in February 2022 with 400 active BMP-3s, 2,800 BMP-2s, and 600 BMP-1s.
In 22 months of heavy fighting, the Russians have lost more than 2,000 BMPs of all models, including at least 500 BMP-1s. And the loss rate has skyrocketed in the five weeks since Russia’s 2nd Combined Arms Army launched a major effort to capture Avdiivka, a Ukrainian stronghold outside the Russian-occupied city of Donetsk.
Day after day, week after week, the 2nd CAA and other formations have thrown tanks, combat vehicles and infantry (several brigades’ worth) against the deeply entrenched Ukrainian troops of the 110th and 47th Mechanized Brigades and other units.
The Russians are dead mass, leaving behind hundreds of potentially mangled vehicles as they have, at best, made incremental gains along Avdiivka’s flanks. The BMP-1U fratricide (made in the Soviet Union, improved in Ukraine, sold to Georgia, captured by Russia, and then redeployed back to Ukraine) is now bloody waste in a growing pile of bloody waste.
All of this is note That is to say, the Russian crew of that historic and doomed BMP were the only ones who were afraid and lost controls on that battlefield on the outskirts of Avdiivka. Videos abound representing nervous vehicle crews in both The sides of the Russia-Ukraine war run over their dismounted comrades.
In war everyone is afraid all the time. And thinly protected BMP crews might be more scared than most. A BMP crew member is always one possible moment away from the possible explosion that could kill him.