As Russia and Ukraine approach the 22-month mark of conflict, both nations have undeniably witnessed the loss of a staggering number of infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs).

Among the attempts to replenish these losses, a notable trend has emerged—a surge in the upgradation of BMP-1s, a familiar yet historically significant IFV in the global military landscape.

The Ubiquitous BMP-1: Past and Present

The BMP-1 (stands for Boyevaya Mashina Pyekhoty 1), a 15-ton, 11-person vehicle, has long been a staple in numerous armed forces worldwide.

Originating from Soviet industry in the mid-1960s, tens of thousands were produced, and today, thousands remain in storage across Russia and Ukraine.

It was initially renowned for its blend of mobility, protection, and firepower, capable of catering to infantry support—operated by a crew of three (commander, gunner, and driver)—while carrying an eight-person squad.

Ukrainian BPM-1s
A Ukrainian BMP-1 executed a water crossing during a training exercise in 2018. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)

However, despite its prevalence, the BMP-1 has grappled with persistent issues, primarily its vulnerability due to inadequate protection and its low-pressure 73-millimeter gun, which loses accuracy beyond a few hundred yards.

This IFV boasted welded steel armor, protecting against 12.7mm rounds and artillery shell fragments, with the front arc offering partial safeguarding against 20mm rounds.

But, with times changing and as military technology advances, this protection is no longer enough and calls for an immediate upgrade if it is to thrive on the battlefield.