As part of the Armata project, several types of equipment are being developed, including a heavy class infantry fighting vehicle. The prerequisites for the emergence of such techniques are simple. In the armed conflicts of the last decades, which were characterized by numerous clashes in the cities, the existing armored vehicles did not prove to be the best. The available reservation was not sufficient to protect against grenade launchers or large-caliber small weapons. Thus, promising armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles should have reservations with a higher level of protection. Strengthening the reservation also leads to an increase in the weight of the structure, as a result of which an armored personnel carrier or heavy infantry fighting vehicle can have a combat mass at the level of tanks.
A heavy BTR-T armored personnel carrier during a demonstration at the exhibition VTTV-2003, Omsk, June 2003
Heavy armored personnel carrier BTR-T on the track of the landfill. Omsk, June 2003
BTR-T enters the conveyor to be sent to the landfill. Omsk, July 1999
There are several foreign projects (primarily Israeli), in which it was proposed to build heavy armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles on the basis of existing tanks. Thus, the Israeli industry built new equipment based on captured T-55 tanks, as well as its own Centurion and Merkava. Armored carriers "Ahzarit", "Timer", etc. well proved in operation, and also became an example for foreign designers of armored machinery.
In the nineties, employees of the Design Bureau of Transport Engineering (Omsk), seeing some success in Israel, began to develop a new heavy armored personnel carrier on a tank chassis. The BTR-T project, created under the leadership of D. Ageev, meant the re-equipment of the medium T-55 tank using a number of special equipment. After such alterations, the tank was to become a highly protected vehicle for the transportation of fighters and their fire support in battle. The draft BTR-T provided for measures aimed both at changing the destination of the base vehicle and at increasing the level of protection and certain other characteristics.
For obvious reasons, during the construction of the BTR-T armored personnel carrier, the armored hull of the base tank had to undergo the greatest changes. To accommodate the landing and new weapons had to develop a special superstructure, designed to be installed instead of the native roof of the T-55 tank. The superstructure had an interesting design, intended to increase the level of protection during attacks from the side. Thus, the sides of the superstructure were made double, with a large separation of sheets horizontally. In fact, the inner sheets were a continuation of the hull sides of the tank, and the outer ones were located at the side of the side screens. Between the inner and outer side plates there was a volume to accommodate various equipment and property. As a result, instead of the “classic” shelves above the tracks, there were relatively large boxes located along the entire hull, from the frontal part of the hull to the stern.
Additional booking was provided not only on the sides of the car. New protection modules appeared on the front hull sheet, a new roof and anti-mine protection was used. The latter was an additional armor plate mounted at some distance from the bottom of the hull. Exact information about the level of mine protection is not available, but it is known that the modifications of frontal armor, including the installation of the dynamic system “Contact-5”, made it possible to bring its equivalent level to 600 mm. Thus, the BTR-T could conduct military operations in the same order with modern tanks of various types.
The layout of the hull after the conversion of the base tank should have remained the same, although with a number of serious reservations. All habitable volumes, inside which the crew of the vehicle and the landing force were located, were located in the front and middle parts of the hull. In the stern, the engine compartment was still located. This arrangement had both advantages and disadvantages. Its main advantage was the comparative simplicity of converting tanks into heavy infantry fighting vehicles. The main disadvantage was the inconvenience of the landing due to the impossibility of arranging a full-fledged stern hatch.
The heavy armored personnel carrier BTR-T was supposed to keep the power plant of the tank, on the basis of which it was built. Thus, it was planned to use diesel engines B-55 of various modifications with power up to 600-620 hp on the advanced technology. Transmission also had to remain the same, without any changes. It included the main multi-disk clutch, five-speed gearbox, final drives and planetary turning mechanisms. The general characteristics of the mobility of a heavy armored personnel carrier should have remained at the level of the corresponding parameters of the base medium tank.
After all the modifications, the combat weight of the vehicle was to increase to 38,5 T. The dimensions of the BTR-T corresponded to the size of the T-55 (excluding the gun). The length of the hull was 6,45 m, width - 3,27 m, height - about 2,4 m. A slight increase in combat weight in combination with the use of the old engine made it possible to maintain mobility at the level of the base T-55. The maximum speed of the armored personnel carrier BTR-T reached 50 km / h, power reserve - 500 km. The car could drive up to 32 °, climb a wall 0,8 m high, move a ditch 2,7 m wide and cross the ford to 1,4 m. It was possible to cross water obstacles along the bottom, at a depth of no more than 5 m.
To provide fire support for the assault force, the BTR-T armored personnel carrier had to be equipped with an original combat module. On the roof of the hull it was planned to install a low-profile tower with the necessary armament. For a more efficient use of the internal volumes of the hull, the shoulder strap of the turret was shifted to the port side. In the podbashchenny space there was a workplace of the gunner, which rotated with the tower. As planned by the authors of the project, the BTR-T could be equipped with weapons of various types. He could carry machine guns of various types and calibers, small-caliber automatic guns and guided missiles.
At various exhibitions several prototypes of a promising heavy armored personnel carrier with various weapons were repeatedly demonstrated. It is known about the existence of a combat module with a remotely controlled NSV machine gun, as well as turrets with an automatic 2A42 cannon of 30 mm caliber, a machine gun and the Cornet missile system with a mount for one rocket container. Promotional materials featured other configurations of the combat module using similar weapons. The armored personnel carrier could be equipped with modules with a machine gun and rockets, a gun and two missiles or two 30-mm guns. Also, PKT machine gun and automatic grenade launchers were offered as weapons for the BTR-T. Probably, the development and construction of one or another variant of the combat module should have continued after receiving the appropriate order.
Regardless of the combat module used, the BTR-T armored personnel carriers had to be equipped with smoke grenade launchers. On the stern of the enlarged track shelves, four groups of three 902B “Cloud” launchers were envisaged. They were supposed to be used for camouflage in battle, in order to further increase survivability.
Inhabited volumes of the base tank T-55 did not differ in large size, which, among other things, affected the capacity of the BTR-T. Due to the hull superstructure, it was possible to increase the available volumes by providing accommodation for the crew and landing force. Own crew of a heavy armored personnel carrier was to consist of two people: the driver and commander-gunner. The first was located "in the old place", the second - in the tower. In the habitable volume managed to place only five places to accommodate paratroopers. One positioned between the commander-gunner and the starboard hull. Four more places were placed in the stern of the habitable volume, at the sides.
For embarkation and disembarkation, the crew and the landing forces were to use a set of hatches in the hull superstructure. The driver and the commander had their own hatches, located behind the frontal sheet and on the tower, respectively. For the landing, two hatches were provided, located in the rear sheet of the superstructure, between the rear parts of the fenced shelves, as on the domestic airborne combat vehicles of the first models. When disembarking, paratroopers had to lift the manhole covers and secure them in a vertical position for use as additional protection. After exiting the hatch, the paratroopers had to walk along the roof of the engine compartment and descend to the ground through the stern or side of the car.
The habitable volume was equipped with air conditioning and protection against weapons of mass destruction. For observation of the environment, the crew and troops could use a set of periscopic instruments. The characteristic design of the sides did not allow to equip the BTR-T with an embrasure set for firing personal weapons. Nevertheless, this opportunity became the price for a significant increase in the security of the crew and paratroopers.
BTR-T on the track of the landfill during the show at the exhibition of ERW-2003. Omsk, June 2003
Heavy armored personnel carrier BTR-T at the exhibition platform of the exhibition VTTV-2003. Omsk, June 2003
View of the tower with the armament of a heavy armored personnel carrier BTR-T from the left side. Omsk, June 2003
The BTR-T armored personnel carrier has enhanced protection not only in the front, but also along the sides. Omsk, June 2003
On the BTR-T additional fuel tanks DPM, in contrast to the base tank T-55, hidden under armor. Omsk, June 2003
The lower part of the body of the BTR-T, in addition to rubber-fabric screens, has additional protection in the form of steel plates for the entire length of the transport-combat compartment. Omsk, June 2003
The first demonstration of the prototype heavy BTR-T armored personnel carrier took place in 1997 year. The shown armored vehicle was built by Omsk specialists on the basis of the T-55 serial tank. In the future, prototypes of the new armored personnel carrier were regularly demonstrated at various exhibitions in order to attract potential customers.
In the promotional materials mentioned a whole set of advantages of the proposed armored personnel carrier. It was argued that the proposed project allows the armed forces to be equipped with modern highly protected equipment for the transportation of fighters and their fire support. Given the proliferation of T-55 tanks, it was possible to assume that the BTR-T project would be of interest to a large number of countries. Through the use of a tank chassis, it was possible to ensure a sufficiently high level of protection and mobility at the level of medium and main tanks of common types. Customers were offered a choice of several combat modules with different weapons, which should have attracted additional attention to the new design.
The drawings of the heavy armored personnel carrier based on the T-55 tank were completed by V. Malginov. 1 scale: 35
The production of the BTR-T vehicles from the existing T-55 tanks could be deployed at any production facilities with the necessary equipment. Thus, equipment for the Russian armed forces could be built in Omsk, and the needs of foreign customers could be met by cooperation. In this case, KBTM could supply ready-made sets of equipment necessary for re-equipping the tank, and the customer's industry had to re-do the armored vehicles using the supplied components.
Nevertheless, the BTR-T armored personnel carrier was not without flaws. First of all, the outdated platform can be considered a minus. The medium tank T-55 has long failed to meet modern requirements for such equipment and therefore cannot be effectively used for its intended purpose. However, with certain reservations, the T-55 can be a good platform for other classes of technology. It is possible to estimate the similar potential of this tank only taking into account the conditions of the intended use of equipment on its base. The materials on the new project mentioned the possibility of creating a similar combat vehicle built on the basis of the chassis of other domestic tanks.
A noticeable disadvantage that the armored personnel carrier has transferred from the base tank is the relatively small amount of manned compartment, due to which the BTR-T vehicle is capable of carrying only five paratroopers. In addition, the layout of the corps could have a negative effect on the performance of combat missions. Because of the engine compartment in the stern it was necessary to make landing hatches in the middle part of the hull. Because of this, the paratroopers had to dismount through the roof of the hull, risking injury or being killed.
The start customer for the BTR-T heavy armored personnel carrier could be the Russian Ministry of Defense. At the ground forces storage bases there was a sufficiently large number of unused T-54 and T-55 tanks, which could be used as the basis for advanced armored personnel carriers. However, in the late nineties and the beginning of the two thousandth our country did not have the financial ability to order a sufficient amount of such equipment.
Tower BTR-T. right view. In front of the commander's hatch is the mounting bracket for the ATGM unit. Omsk, June 2003
The left front part of the BTR-T hull, visible hatch and viewing instruments of the driver. Omsk, June 2003
The front sheet of the BTR-T hull is equipped with dynamic protection units of the T-80U type tank. Omsk, June 2003
View of the tower BTR-T in front. To the left of the remotely controlled machine-gun, the 1PN22M is visible. Omsk, June 2003
On the starboard hull of the BTR-T on the starboard side there are access hatches to the internal equipment of the vehicle. Omsk, June 2003
BTR-T rear view. The hull's stern leaf remained unchanged, the same as on the T-55 base tank. Omsk, June 2003
Potential customers from foreign countries also showed no interest in the new Omsk development. The BTR-T armored personnel carrier had both advantages and disadvantages. Probably, the disadvantages of the car outweighed, with the result that it could not become the subject of contracts with third countries. Even the widespread use of T-55 tanks in service in many countries did not contribute to the receipt of orders.
During a long time news About the project BTR-T did not arrive. There were grounds to consider it stopped due to the lack of prospects. However, in the fall of 2011, interesting information about the construction of armored personnel carriers based on medium tanks appeared. It was reported that the armed forces of Bangladesh completed the re-equipping of 30 T54A battle tanks in the version of the heavy armored personnel carrier BTR-T. The details of this alteration and the peculiarities of the participation of Russian enterprises (if such were) remained unknown.
The project to create a heavy armored personnel carrier BTR-T was not crowned with success. The Russian army was not able to acquire such equipment due to the difficult economic situation, and in addition, it had claims to some features of the structure, like the absence of embrasures and the landing of troops through the hatches in the rear hull superstructure. Foreign countries also did not order ready BTR-Ts or purchase sets of equipment for retrofitting existing tanks. Probably, the reasons for the refusal to buy were the same as in the case of the Russian Ministry of Defense. Nevertheless, the BTR-T project, despite its unsuccessful completion, made it possible to collect a lot of useful information about the creation of heavy-class armored personnel carriers. It is possible that the developments on the unsuccessful BTR-T project a few years later were used in new projects, and also made it possible to shape the appearance of promising technology of a similar purpose, including heavy infantry fighting vehicles based on the Armata platform.
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