The BMP-1 was first seen in 1967 and represented a truly remarkable development on the part of the Soviet Bloc. During the Second World War there had been virtually no progress with regard to the introduction of armoured personnel carriers. Despite a slow start in this regard what was now seen was the first mechanised infantry combat vehicle, not just a transport. This was well in advance of such foreign competition as the M2/M3 Bradley and the Warrior.

Armament for the time was formidable with a 73mm low-pressure gun, co-axial machine gun and launcher rail for the “Sagger” anti-tank guided weapon with five missiles provided. In addition the infantry section passengers could contribute with their own weapons from within the vehicle. These could typically include a further two machine guns, six assault rifles and a surface to air ‘Grail’ missile.

In addition the vehicle is fully amphibious, being propelled by its tracks. There is also a fully operational NBC system. It is easy to visualise the concern that must have greeted the introduction of this vehicle, with the prospect of large numbers of them combined with the latest Soviet tanks poised to overrun the West.

As is usually the case however, the vehicle had a number of faults and at least initially were only deployed with front line units, the follow up units having to make do with less advanced vehicles.

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