The commander in a BTR-80 would be the squad leader of a motorized infantry squad consisting of 8 men, including himself. While in the BTR-80, his job is to scan for possible threats and determine the next course of action.
The commander has a TKN-3 day/night binocular periscope with an accompanying OU-5-1 IR spotlight at his disposal, along with three TNPO-115 periscopes. Two of the periscopes flank the TKN-3 aperture and one is aimed to the right of the commander. The commander does not have a cupola, but the TKN-3 is is mounted in a ball joint housing to enable viewing in elevation and azimuth. The OU-5-1 IR spotlight is directly attached to the TKN-3 and will move with it.
The TKN-3 has a fixed 5x magnification in the day channel, and a field of view of 10°. The maximum target identification range is around 3000 m at daytime. The night channel has a 3x maximum magnification and a field of view of 8°. The target identification range is more than 400m in the passive mode and more than 600m in the active mode. The active mode requires the use of the OU-5-1 IR spotlight, which supplies infrared light needed for the sight to pick up.
|TKN-3 periscope aperture with OU-5-1 IR spotlight attached to the same rotating block|
It should be noted that actually seeing anything with the TKN-3 while the vehicle is moving is an incredible feat in itself, due to the lack of a periscope, high magnification, and the commander's location in the forward hull. The TKN-3's hand grips are meant for him to brace against for some impromptu stabilization, but it really isn't satisfactory.
|TKN-3 in ball joint housing|
He has access to the R-123 radio. As of today, it is woefully obsolete. Enemy troops could easily listen in to any and all communications sent through these radio sets, which proved to be a fatal weakness during the Chechen campaign. The R-123 radio had a frequency range of between 20 MHZ to 51.5 MHZ. It could be tuned to any frequency within those limits via a knob, or the commander could instantly switch between four preset frequencies for communications within a platoon. It had a range of between 16km to 50km. The R-123 had a novel glass prism window at the top of the apparatus that displayed the operating frequency. An internal bulb illuminated a dial, imposing it onto the prism where it is displayed. The R-123 had a relatively advanced modular design that enabled it to be repaired quickly by simply swapping out individual modules.
|Commander's workstation. Note the conveniently placed firing port.|
As evidenced by the number of personal belongings piled up in place of the commander's workstation, it's quite clear that the role isn't regarded as particularly useful in the BTR-80. The commander is a squad member who dismounts with the rest of the passengers.
|Gunner's workstation, but without the seat and usual instruments. A lot of things are missing in this picture.|
Gun elevation and turret traverse are done manually with the use of two flywheels. The turret traverse flywheel also mounts the electric triggers for the KPVT and PKT machine guns.
|Turret rotation and gun elevation flywheels|
Not only does the turrer lack stabilization, it also lacks powered traverse. Interestingly, the lack of powered traverse has been noted to be the only grievance with gunners, indicating a high overall satisfaction with the turret.
|1PZ-2 sight cover on the left side of the turret.|
This sight is used for aiming both the KPVT and PKT co-axial machine gun. The KPVT is sighted for 2000m, and the PKT is sighted for 800m, though the range at which these weapons are useful is not quite that far.
Overall, the night vision capabilities of the sight is rather lacking. It is not a serious contender in the world of night vision devices, and turning on the infrared spotlight might reveal the vehicle's position faster.
For general visibility, the gunner is provided with a single left-facing TNPO-170A periscope.
Recently modernized BTR-80 units have had the new TKN-4GA-01 sighting complex installed. A full description will be available in the future.
B-32 is an AP round made from hard steel, while the BS-41 is an AP round made from tungsten carbide. BS-41 is superior to the B-32, but the latter is still the most numerous type due to its economy.
The BZT and BZT-M rounds are the tracer counterparts to the B-32 and BS-41 respectively. Both of these rounds have similar, and very modest penetration capabilities, and only serve to duplicate the flight trajectories of their counterparts. The also BZT-M differs from the BZT by having a slightly more powerful propellant to match its speed to that of the BS-41.
The MDZ and MDZ-M rounds fulfill a niche requirement as anti-helicopter ammunition. This type of bullet has a very limited advantage in the anti-personnel role in that it produces a small amount of splinters upon detonation, and it can set field fortifications alight.
The B-32 bullet is composed of a hardened steel core with 1.8 grams of volatile incendiary mixture packed at the tip. The steel core is to defeat light armour, and the incendiary mixture is useful for injuring the occupants or setting internal equipment alight.
One interesting factoid about the B-32 bullet is that it shares the exact same external and internal design as the 12.7mm B-32 and 7.62mm B-32, differing only in scale, which is obvious when you think about it since they are all united by a common name. The bullet design was originally made for the 7.62x54mm cartridge, but was later adopted in larger calibers due to its very good ballistic shaping.
Muzzle velocity: 988m/s
Muzzle Velocity of 14.5 B32: 988 m/s
V50 of 15.6mm of ATI 500-MIL plate at 30 deg: 730 m/s
V50 of 15.4mm of ATI 500-MIL plate at 30 deg: 739 m/s
V50 of 18.8mm of ATI 500-MIL plate at 30 deg: 841 m/s
This means that 980 m, a 14.5mm B32 bullet will go through 15.6mm of ATI 500-MIL plate angled at 30 degrees to the vertical. This is almost exactly double the performance of the .50 M2 round for a very small increase in caliber and small increase in overall dimensions. At 915 meters, the 14.5mm B32 bullet will go through 15.4mm of the same steel at the same slope. Odd, but not a big deal. A 0.2mm error margin is easily explained away by quality issues. At 525 m, the 14.5mm B32 bullet will go through 18.8mm of the same steel at the same slope.
Here is the graph of thickness against V50:
The B-32 is not useful against the sides of an M2 Bradley IFV, as the core will shatter against the two spaced steel plates that protect the aluminium armour underneath.
The photos below (stolen from here (link) show the results of shooting a KPVT at two 6mm sheets spaced a few centimeters apart at point blank range. This would be a good demonstration of the performance of B-32 against the sides of a Bradley, as it simulates the configuration of its spaced armour, but sadly, the sheets are mild steel, and there was no witness plate to prove that the bullet had not shattered.
Therefore, these photos are interesting, but prove nothing. Note that some of the incendiary mixture from the bullet was wasted as it burned up outside the plate.
The bullet also has an incendiary compound packed at the tip of the bullet, just like the B-32.
|Penetration of BS-41 into mild steel|
Bullet Mass: 64.2 g
Bullet Length: 51.2mm
Core Diameter: 11.72mm
Core Length: 38.72mm
Core Mass: 38.72 g
Incendiary Compound Mass: 0.97 g
35mm RHA @ 350m
32mm RHA @ 500m
20mm RHA @ 1000m
80.5mm Mild Steel @ Muzzle
125mm 5083 Aluminium Armour @ 100m
Testing was conducted on the BS-41 against ATI 500-MIL plate, a high strength type of steel with a hardness of 500 BHN. This is much harder than normal RHA, which tends to have a hardness of around 300 BHN. The average hardness of mild steel is 145 BHN.
Muzzle Velocity of 14.5mm BS41 bullet: 1005 m/s
V50 of 24.5mm of ATI 500-MIL plate at 30 deg: 869 m/s
At 435 m, the BS41 bullet can perforate 24.5mm of ATI 500-MIL plate steel angled at 30 degrees. According to widespread claims on various websites and old Army documents, the 14.5mm BS-41 bullet is apparently also capable of perforating 40mm of steel armour (the properties of which are not specified, but assumed to be around 360 BHN steel) at 100m at 0 degrees, and 32mm of the same steel at 0 degrees at 500m.
The BZT and BZT-M have armour-piercing cores and incendiary tips like their armour-piercing-only counterparts, but these have an additional tracer element at the rear. The BZT has a steel core, and the BZT-M has a tungsten carbide core, both of equal dimensions. The tracer can burn until at least 2000m. These bullets are linked in a belt of AP ammunition in a 1:4 ratio.
Muzzle velocity: 995m/s (BZT) - 1005m/s (BZT-M)
As you can see in the pictures above, the BZT class of bullets have a shortened armour piercing core, with the addition of a volatile incendiary mixture packed in front of it at the tip of the bullet.
Explosive bullet with miniature fuze. This round is good for lightly armoured utility vehicles, such as trucks, jeeps, etc.
However, its main purpose is to down unarmored helicopters. The relatively thick steel wall of the bullet allows it to punch through the thin skin of transport helicopters like the Mi-8 and the Huey and explode inside with great fragmentation and incendiary effect. Even the lightly armoured AH-1 Cobra will be more vulnerable to this round than it is to regular AP ammunition like the B-32, as its lackluster protection is not enough to stop MDZ bullets.
Muzzle velocity: 1000m/s - 1008m/s
10 ammunition boxes of 50 cartridges are provided in special made containers for a total of 500 rounds of ammunition. The boxes much be manually loaded by the gunner, though there is no reason not to simply link up multiple 50-round belts and leave it hanging. The KPVT has enough power to pull up belts of heavy ammunition without much effect to its reliability.
Additional boxes may be stowed if the crew chooses to. If the vehicle in question is expected to participate in direct combat, more ammunition may be carried at the coat of reduced floor space for cargo.
As mentioned, the KPVT is not stabilized. The gunner is only able to fire accurate if the vehicle is stopped, or moving at a very relaxed speed over even ground.
Unlike the typical APC, the BTR-80 has a co-axial machine gun, the PKTM. The PKTM is has a sighting range of 800m, and a nominal maximum effective range of around 1500m, while the effective firing range against a running target is around 650m. Ball (or AP) and tracer ammunition are usually linked in a 2:1 ratio. The machine gun has a rate of fire of 800 rounds per minute. A 250-round box of 7.62x54mmR ammunition is provided in a continuous belt, with up to 10 more boxes stowed away for manual reloading.
The PKT is generally considered a backup weapon used to either conserve 14.5mm ammo or used when 14.5mm ammo has run out, or perhaps when the target is not behind solid cover.
There are three firing ports on the port side and four on the starboard side, all of which are canted forward to allow troops to fire to the front of the vehicle. The commander is provided with his own firing port. All of the passengers' firing ports the can traverse from 15 degrees to 25 degrees forward. The frontmost passenger firing port is intended for the squad machine gunner to use with his PKM.
None of the firing ports can actually lock the dismount's rifle in place, so he must bear the brunt of the recoil. Each firing port can be closed with an exterior lid, which is manually operated. The firing port itself may be unlocked and swung open inwards.
The commander's firing port is aimed directly forward and can traverse in a 50° horizontal arc and 50° in a vertical arc.
The firing port attendees were provided with cartridge casing deflectors, since AK-type rifles ejected spent casings with quite a bit of force. Without them, the user would pelt hot brass at his neighbour's face. But aside from that, the firing port stations also had a rather unique fume extractor system. Air hoses were attached to the sheet steel cartridge casing deflectors and were positioned just in front of an AK-type rifle's ejection port to suck in powder gasses as the rifle fired. Without this syatem, the BMP would be flooded with powder fumes, especially if all eight passengers have been firing continuously for extended periods of time without permission to open any of the hatches, if they were in .
In addition to the usual onboard weapons for the vehicle's armament, the BTR-80 also stores grenades, RPGs, assault flamethrowers, additional small arms ammunition, and maybe additional MANPADS launchers, machine guns, both light and heavy, and even AGS grenade launchers or other equipment. The BTR-80 can transport almost anything that its occupants need for short missions.
The BTR-80's hull is constructed from welded high hardness steel. The armour profile is resistant to most small arms fire and artillery shell splinters all around the vehicle. The roof of the vehicle is resistant to small arms fire. The windscreen is made of polycarbonate. It can only resist raindrops. The frontal profile is fully resistant to .50 caliber M2 AP bullets from at least 200m, if not closer. Generally speaking, the BTR-80 only viable as a "battle taxi".
Here is a more detailed breakdown of the armour configuration:
Upper plate: 10mm RHA @ 45° = 14mm RHA
Bow deck: N/A
Cheeks: 9mm RHA @ 45° = 12.7mm RHA
Blast shields: 6mm RHA @ 45° = 8.4mm RHA
Upper sides: ~10mm RHA
Side hatch upper half: ~10mm RHA
Side hatch lower half: 9mm RHA
Lower sides: 9mm RHA
Lower sides (gap): 9mm RHA
Rear: 7mm RHA
Hull roof: 7mm RHA
Hull belly: 7mm RHA
Turret (all around): 7mm RHA @ 45° = 10mm RHA
Turret roof: 7mm RHA
The BTR-80 canwithstand all forms of small arms armour piercing machine gun fire from any direction. If any further proof of this is needed, this video should be enough to sate your curiosity:
The armour profile corresponds to the need for all-around protection from common small arms, and protection from .50 caliber machine guns to the front. However, counter insurgency warfare is hardly as rigid as that. If the BTR is acting as a battle taxi, as it should, there is no sense in not being inside the armoured hull, which can shield passengers from splinters and fragmentation. It's an entirely different story if the BTR was right in the thick of the firefight. In such dangerous circumstances, soldiers will invariably prefer to ride on top of the BTR rather than in them, which allows them to quickly dismount and spread out upon enemy contact, with the BTR-80 acting only as fire support at this point.
"Akustik" Spaced Armour Kit
The trends over the past two decades have consistently shown that troop carriers like the BTR-80 often have to heed the clarion call for combat alongside more its more heavily armoured brethren. The few milimeters of steel cladding on the BTR-80 are far from enough as protection from roadside IEDs and heavy machine gun fire, and unless it is ditched altogether, the only option is to uparmour the BTR-80 to meet these new demands.
The Ukrainian BTsKT company developed the "Akustik" blast and ballistic protection kit. It proofs the vehicle from 12.7mm B-32 steel cored armour piercing ammunition as well as bomb splinters, and the multilayered composite underlay has the function of dampening a blast wave.
The BTR-80 is provided with the 902V countermeasures system which include six 3D6 smoke grenade launchers, arranged at the rear of the turret, pointing forward. 3D17 anti-IR smoke grenades are available as well, although seldom used with "unimportant" assets like the humble BTR-80.
The BTR-80 has a overpressure NBC protection suite. The higher pressure within the hull prevents particulate contaminants from entering the vehicle, and the occupants are supplied with purified air from an air filtration system. The air outlets for purified air is the only form of "air conditioner" that you'd get.
The occupants are provided with OU-2 1-liter fire extinguishers employing 114B-2 halocarbon extinguishing agents. There is no automatic fire extinguishing system.
Some BTR-80s in Chechnya have been seen with bolt-on Kontakt 1 ERA tiles and with stolen rubber side skirts mounted on them, which corresponds to the fact that RPGs were the most common threat at the time. The BTR-80 shown in the picture below is an ad hoc modification by soldiers. The success of such a concoction is unknown.
There are no standardized ERA kits for the BTR-80. Instead, the BTR-80 has slat armour, which is less effective, but most certainly cheaper.
Note that the windscreen is also shielded by spaced paneling, and that the panels on the lower glacis are sectionalized into multiple longitudinal strips. These particulars can be used to differentiate it from other homegrown kits.
|Russian BTR-80 in the Donbas, Ukraine|
During marches, there are three crew members - the gunner, the commander and the driver. In practice, however, the commander dismounts with the 7 passengers and fights alongside them as their squad leader. The BTR-80 will continue to provide fire support with only the driver and gunner manning the vehicle.
A reasonable amount of attention is given to passenger comfort, although it is still surprisingly cramped inside. The vehicle is deceptively small.
The vehicle can transport 8 troops, though it is quite cramped at full capacity. Fortunately, due to the open space accommodation, soldiers can arrange their equipment and themselves wherever they want and in whatever position they find most comfortable.
Departing from other designs, troops must dismount from side doors instead of a typical rear door or ramp. This has its own pros and cons. Frankly speaking, exiting from these narrow doors in full gear is more inconvenient than it should be, but the choice of two doors means that if one side of the vehicle comes under fire, troops can disembark from the other side. This means that in an ambush scenario, the occupants have a good chance to escape unless surrounded from both sides.
The doors are split into two portions; the upper half which swings sideways and outwards, and the bottom half, which drops down and forms a step, which is useful if the vehicle is on the move.
|Port side door, inside view.|
|The lower hatch forms a small step|
The upper half is opened and closed with a handle, but to close the lower half, there is a pullstring to help rein it in.
The accommodations for the passengers include two benches, facing away from each other, and periscopes for monitoring the situation outside the vehicle. There are two more individual seats at the front of the vehicle.
|Notice the two seats. The gunner's seat is absent in this photo.|
Despite its ungainly appearance, the BTR-80 is a very assertive cross-country vehicle. Early versions were originally powered by a single KamAZ-7403 diesel engine, producing 260hp, and with a fuel consumption of 0.5l/km. All BTR-80s manufactured only in 1993 have a YaMZ-238M2 diesel engine instead of the KamAZ-7403. It produces 240hp, 20hp less than the engine it replaces. Very few, if any BTR-80s have the YaMZ-238M2 engine. Its use was only a temporary measure, taken due to the burning down of the Kamaz engine plant in 1993.
There are two isolated fuel tanks, each with a 150 liter capacity. The absolute maximum speed on paved roads is 100km/h, though drivers are never allowed to exceed 90km/h during peacetime. The average cross-country speed is 20km/h to 40km/h. The maximum driving distance is 600km on a paved road, and 200km to 500km on cross-country trips. The BTR-80 has a power-to-weight ratio of 19.1hp/ton. The vehicle can cross a 2m-wide trench and scale a 0.5m-tall vertical obstacle. The chassis has a generous 475mm of ground clearance, allowing the BTR-80 to drive right over tree stumps, rocks, and the like.
The forward-and-upwards hinging armour panels for the windscreens also help to shelter the windscreens from snow and rain, helping improve driving visibility.
The transmission is of a hydromechanical planetary type, with five forward gears and one reverse gear.
The two front pairs of wheels are the steering wheels. The vehicle has a minimum external turning radius of about 13.2m.
The suspension of the vehicle is of an individual torsion bar type, typical of wheeled designs. Each wheel has a telescopic double action shock absorber to improve driving comfort. The BTR-80 may mount either KI-80 or KI-126 tubeless tyres with detachable armoured rims, both of which are bullet-resistant and semi-mine resistant. The latter is a later issue (mid 90's) which is superior in all of the characteristics previously described. An example of a mine that the wheels could reliably resist would be the BLU-43 anti-personnel mine, and mines like it. This affords the vehicle some dependability in regions saturated with area-denial mines, and grants the vehicle good survivability characteristics. Of special interest is the BTR-80's ability to drive even with two of its wheels completely destroyed. In fact, this feature enables the BTR-80 to continue moving even after being detonating an anti-tank mine, which, as a rule, would destroy at least one wheel. The tyres have an operating pressure ranging from 50 kPa to 300 kPa. The BTR-80 can endure travel for several hundred kilometers even with all its tyres punctured.
The BTR-80 has a centralized tyre pressure control system, enabling the driver to control tyre pressure while on the move in accordance with the type of terrain that the vehicle has to traverse.
|1998, BTR-80 in Kosovo with KI-80 tyres. Notice the large rims.|
|2013, BTR-80 with KI-126 tyres. Notice the smaller rims.|
Another factor in the BTR-80's mobility is the generous 475mm of ground clearance, enabling it to simply drive clear over small obstructions and climb vertical obstacles with a height of up to 0.5m. Climbing taller obstacles is not possible due to the length of the hull overhang.
The weight of the vehicle is 13.6 tons plus 3%, for a total of 14 tons in a combat configuration.
|Swimming BTR-80s. Note the raised tubes.|
The BTR-80 is fully amphibious. It is propelled by two water jets, and can attain a maximum speed of 9km/h in the water. The driving endurance in the water is 12 hours. Turning in the water is achieved by closing off one of the water jet nozzles; closing the right nozzle turns the vehicle right, and closing the left nozzle turns the vehicle left. If both jets are malfunctioning, the vehicle may still move in the water by the turning of the wheels. The speed is reduced to a measly 4km/h, although the occupants would be saved from being stranded in the middle of whatever body of water they were trying to cross.
The wave deflector has to be erected before entering the water to ensure that driving visibility is not affected.
There are two ventilation tubes, which must be raised when the vehicle is in the water. They provide air to the engine and vent exhaust gasses.
All crew members are provided with the P-124 intercom system.
SELF-RECOVERY WINCHThere is an electric winch inside the bow of the BTR-80. The winch has a maximum pulling force of 4.6 tons, enough to let the BTR pull itself out of a bog or a ditch when hooked to a nearby tree or something, or perhaps rescue another vehicle from such conditions. The winch cable is 50m long.
The cable and hook can be accessed at the very front of the hull, through a square port (shown above).
BTR-80AThis is a variant of the BTR-80, with a different turret and armament. No other changes were made to the rest of the vehicle. Over a hundred of these vehicles have been made for both service in the Army and for clients abroad.
The BTR-80A is a more heavily armed variant of the BTR-80, equipped with a BPPU pseudo-unmanned oscillating turret in lieu of the truncated cone turret on the original model. It is conceptually similar to the Marder 1 IFV's turret design.
The total separation of armament from crew compartment drastically lessens the physical impact on the gunner. Thanks to the lack of fumes and reduced acoustic stress from the cannon, the gunner is left trouble-free and undistracted, thereby improving his performance in combat.
The BPPU-1 turret is electrically driven and stabilized, and both the co-axial machine gun and autocannon have a gun elevation of 70 degrees and a gun depression of 7 degrees. With the new 2A72 autocannon and new gunner's sights, the relative combat efficiency of the BTR-80A increases by 2.1 to 2.4 times over the baseline BTR-80.
With the new turret, the weight of the vehicle increases to 14.55 tons. Since the engine remains unchanged, the BTR-80A has a power to weight ratio of only 17.9 hp/t.
The BTR-80A is often mistaken for the BTR-82A, but this is quite understandable. They are, after all, externally identical. However, the BTR-80A is simply a BTR-80 with a drop-on turret upgrade and thus did not receive any improvements to its hull, unlike the BTR-82A which has a spall liner. This is perhaps the easiest method of identifying a BTR-80A. For instance, a BTR-80AM:
|Note the lack of spall liners and the lack of composite armour on the lower door|
Generally speaking, the BTR-80A is identical to the BTR-80 in all ways except for the new turret. For more information about the BTR-80A in this regard, simply visit the BTR-82A article.
The original BTR-80 is no longer being procured by the Russian military, having being temporarily supplanted by the BTR-82A. However, export sales are an entirely different matter. The BTR-80 is still displaying a strong standing among international clients.
Surplus units from the late 90's cost approximately $400,000, and relatively new units should cost no more than that. Some civilian BTR-80s (new as well) are sometimes sold for as little as $50,000.