Tuesday, 18 November 2014



The BTR-80 is an amphibious armoured personnel carrier, and is the successor to the BTR-70 and BTR-60 designs. Its inception was closely connected to the events unfolding in Afghanistan at the time, but the design of the vehicle had minimal innovation. The BTR-80 follows the traditional BTR layout; three sections of the vehicle, divided into the driver and commander's section at the front, passengers' and gunner's section in the middle, and the compartmentalized powerplant section at the rear. All the vehicle's occupants share a common space within the vehicle, and exit via side doors - a huge improvement over the side hatches of the BTR-70.


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.


The photo below (credit to Vitaly Kuzmin) shows the gunner's station of a modernized BTR-80. He is the sole occupant of the BPU-1 turret. Several things are missing in the picture, including the gunner's seat which is suspended from the turret and the PKTM co-axial machine gun, and the gunsight is not original either.

The gunner is furnished with only two periscopes to view the outside world besides the gunsight: a single TNPO-170A general vision periscope to his immediate left, and one TNPT-1 rear-view prism directly above him. This pitiful combination means that the gunner has very little independence in detecting targets at short to medium distances, and even less in detecting targets located above the vehicle.

The gunner's seat has an adjustable backrest, but it is not very comfortable. Being suspended above the floor of the hull, the gunner has a better chance of surviving a landmine blast underneath the vehicle, which is also aided by his central location in the BTR. There is no source of illumination in the turret. The gunner must make do with the dome lights installed on the ceiling of the passenger area. The travel lock for the turret is located near the gunner's left shoulder, and the 902V smoke grenade system control box is located between the travel lock and the TNP-205 periscope. The mechanism for opening and closing the protective shield for the 1PZ-7 gunsight is located near the roof of the turret, directly above and to the left of the 1PZ-7 sight housing.

Gun elevation and turret traverse are done manually with the use of two flywheels. The turret traverse flywheel also mounts the solenoid triggers for the KPVT and PKTM machine guns. The electrical system for the firing of the weapons are located underneath the weapon mounts.

Turret rotation and gun elevation flywheels

A motivated gunner can slew the turret at a very respectable speed, but the lack of powered traverse and stabilization is a drawback nonetheless. The lack of powered traverse is a noted grievance with BTR-80 gunners, according to a TV Zvezda interview. Still, one could argue that the protection of a full turret like the BPU-1 turret makes it inherently superior to having an exposed pintle-mounted machine gun on the roof of the vehicle, as in the case of the M113 and earlier versions of the BTR-60.


1PZ-7 sight cover on the left side of the turret.
The gunner is provided with a telescopic monocular 1PZ-7 day/night dual purpose sight. This sight has variable magnification settings of either 1.2x or 4x magnification. In the 1.2x magnification setting, the field of view is 49 degrees, and 14 degrees in the 4x magnification setting. The sight has no stabilization. The periscopic mirror in the sight aperture moves vertically with the weapons via mechanical linkages, but the sight itself remains static. The aperture mirror has +81 degrees elevation and -10 degrees depression, although the weapons themselves can only elevate to +60 degrees and depress to -4 degrees. This is more than enough to allow the gunner to fire at aircraft, but the sight has no ability to track moving targets or calculate lead for the gunner's convenience. In technological terms, 1PZ-7 belongs firmly in the 1950's. 

This sight is used for aiming both the KPVT and PKTM coaxial machine gun. The KPVT is sighted to a maximum range of 2000 m, and the PKTM is sighted for a maximum range of 800 m. The maximum ranges are determined by the tracer burn-out distances for the 14.5mm BZT-44 and 7.62mm T-46 tracer rounds.

The sight has a basic nightvision module. It is of the active infrared type, and it works in tandem the OU-3GA2M IR spotlight. An infrared filter enables the sight to pick up the infrared light projected by the spotlight. The power of the 110W spotlight is enough to allow the gunner to see and identify targets up to 400m away. It is possible, of course, to see vague shapes at longer distances, and the gunner may open fire if he is sure that it is not a friendly.

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.

Here is the view through through the 1PZ-7 under 1.4x magnification:

Here is the view through the sight in 4x magnification:


Recently modernized BTR-80 units have had the new TKN-4GA-01 sighting complex installed. This is the same sight used in the BTR-82A, but unlike the BTR-82A, the gun on the BTR-80 remains unstabilized so the weapons still cannot be fired accurately on the move on rough terrain.

The turret was slightly modified to accommodate the larger and more modern sight.

In the observation mode, the magnification is fixed at 1x with an angular field of view of 49 degrees. In this mode, the magnification of the main optic is the same as the anti-aircraft optic, so the sight becomes binocular and the gunner can more easily spot targets, especially considering that the TKN-4GA-01 is stabilized. In the observation mode, the gunner can spot tank-type targets or targets of a similar size out to 3000 m (according to the manufacturer). Once the gunner identifies a target and is ready to engage, he can switch to the higher magnification mode and use the monocular day sight to engage. In the daylight gunnery mode, the sight is monocular and only the right eyepiece is used. In the day setting, the sight offers a fixed 8.2x magnification and an angular field of view of 7 degrees. In the night setting, the sight has 8x magnification and an angular field of view of 7 degrees.

The simple anti-aircraft optic included in the TKN-4GA-01 is not improved over the 1PZ-7 but greater magnification in the daylight gunnery optic compared to the 1PZ-7 enables the gunner to see and engage targets at longer ranges with more confidence than before, making the BTR-80 more effective overall. Another important upgrade lies in the inclusion of the PL-1-01 laser beamer, which not only has a greatly superior range than the earlier xenon IR spotlight but also features pulse modulation allowing its IR laser to penetrate more deeply into mist and fog, making it much more effective than the simple IR lamp during poor weather conditions.

The patent of the modernized BTR-80 with PL-1-01 laser beamer can be viewed via this (link).


The KPVT is an open-bolt single-feed heavy machine gun, fed with 50-round belts held in individual boxes. It fires the 14.5x114mm cartridge at a cyclic rate of 600 rounds per minute out of a 1.346 m barrel. The barrel is shrouded in an air-cooling jacket and supported with a metal frame on its mount in the BTR-80 turret. At the muzzle of the barrel is a conical flash hider and booster assembly. The booster is connected to the air-cooling jacket, and allows the propellant gasses escaping from the barrel to push the barrel against the end of the jacket, causing it to recoil backwards a short distance. The short-recoil action reduces the recoil impulse.

Ten ammunition boxes with a belt of 50 cartridges each are provided for a total of 500 rounds of ammunition. The boxes much be manually loaded by the gunner. To do so, the machine gun should be elevated by some amount although it isn't strictly necessary. This is not to leave enough space to open the top cover of the machine gun since the KPVT doesn't have one (it has an upper receiver assembly instead), but to allow the gunner to find the feed lips and slot the belt of cartridges into the machine gun. After this, the charging cable is pulled to cock the gun and ready it to fire.

Additional boxes of ammunition may be stowed if the crew chooses to. They could simply be placed on the floor, on the seats, or anywhere that does not interfere with the general function of the vehicle.

The available bullet types are the B-32, BS-41, BZT, BZT-M, MDZ, and MDZ-M which are armour-piercing incendiary (API), armour-piercing incendiary tracer (API-T) and instantaneous incendiary-high-explosive (HEI) respectively.

B-32 is an AP round made from tool 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 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.

B-32 (AP-I)

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 aspect 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. The B-32 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
Core: Heat-treated tool steel

The velocity limits of B-32 for various thicknesses of steel are listed as follows:

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 B-32 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 B-32 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 B-32 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 (taken 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.

BS-41 (AP-I)
A souped-up armour-piercing cartridge first introduced for anti-tank purposes in 1941. It is very useful against lightly armoured vehicles like armoured cars and bullet-proofed utility and transport vehicles like M113s, Humvees and LAVs. Armoured attack helicopters are fair game as well. The extra penetration ability granted by the tungsten carbide core enables the the BS-41 to be useful against modern utility trucks and cars, but with the emergence of new and more advanced ceramic armour technology, the BS-41 cartridge will find its usefulness diminishing rapidly.

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
Muzzle velocity: 1005m/s
Core: Tungsten carbide
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

40mm RHA @ 100m
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)
Core: Heat-strengthened steel
Penetration: 20mm RHA @ 100m (BZT)
Tracer ignition distance: 50m - 120m from muzzle
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, and others, but its main purpose is to shoot down unarmored helicopters. The relatively thick steel wall of the bullet allows it to punch through the thin aluminium skin of transport helicopters like the Mi-8 and the Huey and explode inside with great fragmentation and incendiary effects. For example, the aluminium skin on the fuselage of an Mi-8 utility helicopter is made from D16AT aviation aluminium alloy with a thickness of only 0.8-1.0mm, and the fuselage skin for many Western military and commercial helicopters is usually made from 7075 aviation aluminium alloy with an average thickness in the vicinity of 0.025 inches (0.635mm). Even the armoured AH-1 Cobra will be more vulnerable to this round compared to regular B-32 armour piercing bullets as its lackluster protection is far from enough to stop MDZ bullets. The effect of an MDZM bullet on the aluminium skin is simulated in the promotional display shown below.

As you can see, the damage inflicted on a helicopter with MDZM bullets is very serious, much more so than if it were hit by a B-32 armour piercing incendiary bullet which would only leave a small 14.5mm-diameter hole in the fuselage.

Muzzle velocity: 1000m/s - 1008m/s
Flame temperature: 2500°C - 3500°C

The maximum practical range of direct fire is stated to be 2000 m for ground targets and 1500 m for air targets.

The 14.5mm cartridge is no longer a reliable means of dealing with light AFVs in the present day due to the universal up-armouring of this class of vehicle, thereby leaving the 14.5mm caliber with only of limited use against certain targets. Surprisingly though, even with the KPVT machine gun, the BTR-80 is still much better armed than modern competitors, which are usually armed with only .50 caliber machine guns. The KPVT grants the BTR-80 superior anti-masonry capabilities and superb anti-personnel performance thanks to its ability to penetrate straight through sandbag, wood and cement fortifications in addition to a substantial demoralizing factor. In a direct comparison to some NATO armoured scout cars and APCs armed with 20mm autocannons - usually the excellent Rh202 - like the Spähpanzer Luchs, the BTR-80 comes off much worse in every way, without a doubt. Thus, we can classify the KPVT as something in between your usual .50 cal and a 20mm cannon.

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. This limits the usefulness of the BTR-80 as a fire support vehicle somewhat.


Unlike a typical armoured personnel carrier, the BTR-80 has a PKTM coaxial machine gun. The machine gun is fed with 250-round boxes with five more carried inside the tank within reach of the commander, who is responsible for reloading the machine gun. 7BZ-3 API (armour-piercing incendiary) rounds with the B-32 bullet and 7T2 API-T (armour-piercing incendiary tracer) rounds with the T-46 bullet are linked in a 4:1 ratio. The machine gun has a cyclic rate of fire of 700 to 800 rounds per minute. A 250-round box of 7.62x54mmR ammunition is provided in a continuous belt with ten more boxes stowed inside the BTR-80. The co-axial machine gun can be fired either by depressing the trigger button on the gunner's handgrips, or by pressing the emergecy manual trigger button located on the trigger unit installed at the back the receiver of the machine gun.

The coaxial machine gun 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 behind less 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 full recoil of his rifle. 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.

There are two more firing ports on the roof hatches, one each. These are simple round port holes that allow any type of weapon to be fired at targets above the vehicle. Given the complete ineffectiveness of assault rifles at air targets, the only use of these ports would be to allow troops to fire at targets in tall buildings or cliffs which happen to flank the vehicle, while under relative safety. Presumably, this feature is usually entirely ignored by troops in favour of simply leaving the vehicle.

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 sheet steel cartridge casing deflectors that would snap onto the receiver of their Kalashnikovs, since AK-type rifles ejected spent casings with quite a bit of force, so the user would otherwise pelt hot brass at his neighbour's face when he opened fire. The casing deflectors prevent this by redirecting spent casings downwards. Aside from that, the firing port stations were also fitted with a fume extractor system. Air hoses were attached to the sheet steel cartridge casing deflectors and were positioned just in front of the rifle's ejection port to suck in the powder gasses that escape from the ejection port as the rifle fired. Without this system, the BTR 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. This system is similar to the one installed in the BMP-1 and BMP-2.

There are two square roof hatches over the troop compartment, which allow dismounts to aim their personal weapons, RPGs, or MANPADs from the vehicle whilst affording some cover for the dismount. This feature is most useful for MANPADs. Unlike RPGs or automatic weapons, the accuracy of a MANPADS is not significantly affected by motion.

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, whereas the side profile is fully resistant to 7.62mm AP from point blank range. This is a very basic level of protection, so generally speaking, the BTR-80 only viable as a "battle taxi". It offers sufficient protection to go up against the organic firepower of a typical American mechanized rifle platoon, not counting any anti-tank weapons carried by the platoon, like the LAW, for example.

The video below shows a BTR-80A sustaining hits from an SVD rifle at point blank range. The bullets used are 7.62mm B-32 bullets.

The upper frontal plate measures 10mm thick at an angle of 45 degrees, whereas the lower frontal plate measures 9mm thick at the same angle. The interstitial plate joining the two plates measures 7mm thick at an angle of 87 degrees. The angled corners are the same thickness as the upper and lower front plates beside them, whichever it is. The upper sides are 10mm thick, and the lower sides are 9mm thick. The upper sides have the additional benefit of some shallow angling of between 20 to 30 degrees. The top half of the side door is 10mm, and the lower half is 9mm. The rear of the hull, and the roof and the floor all measure in at 7mm thick.

The turret roof is 7mm thick, but the turret walls are 10mm thick angled at 45 degrees at the front and sides, thinning down to 7mm at the rear.

The armour profile was sufficient for the role of the BTR-80 in the Red Army. There is no reason for it to face anything more powerful than a machine gun nest or an M113 - which it would be able to make short work of.

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, but it's an entirely different story if the BTR was right in the thick of the firefight, and the enemy is equipped with anti-tank weapons. When such circumstances seem inevitable, 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. Being outside the vehicle has many more disadvantages on its own, obviously, the primary one being that this practice makes the soldiers vulnerable to claymore mines and jumping mines, and to the most basic IEDs.

"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, similar to its predecessors. 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 ventilation that the passengers have.


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.


  BTR-80s have been seen with lattice armour sets. To the best of my knowledge, these are only provided in small numbers to the Southern Military District and most often seen in the North Caucasus. BTR-80s mounted with lattice screens are very commonly seen during anti-terrorist operations in Chechnya. The Ukrainian army has mounted lattice armour on most of their BTR-type vehicles, including the BTR-80, in light of the recent conflict in the Donbas region. Their availability on such short notice is quite noteworthy as it indicates the ease of which they can be deployed. Lattice screens are cheap and convenient and provide reasonably reliable protection from the common rocket grenade without the hazards of first generation ERA like Kontakt-1. The BTR-80 below is equipped with a slat armour kit developed by NII Stali, which also comes with a layer of spaced armour underneath for additional protection from 12.7mm B-32 bullets similar to the "Akustik" applique armour kit. With this armour, the sides become immune to .50 caliber M2 AP rounds from a distance of 325 meters.

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 total height is 2.41 m, but the height to the hull ceiling is only about 1.91 m. That's 6'3" - barely taller than most Anglo and Nordic combatants and hardly much taller than the average Soviet combatant. The low profile gives the BTR-80 wonderful concealment potential in densely vegetated environments. Being quite low to the ground, terrain features like rocks, mounds, shrubs and even tall grass can hide the BTR-80, and the tiny turret can be easily camouflaged.

  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 driver relies on one of the two windscreens of the vehicle for most of his driving work, though he is supplemented with four TNPO-115 periscopes, which cover a wide frontal viewing arc. These enable him to drive under relative safety while armoured shields are in place over the windscreens. TVNE-4B binocular nightvision periscopes may be installed in lieu of the daytime periscopes.
  The TNVE-4B has a viewing distance of 120m.

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. 
Photographs of BTR-80s can be dated by the size of rims on their tyres. You can be certain that all models photographed with large rims are from before the 2000's. The KI-126 tyre is currently standard among all BTR-80s.

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.

In cold weather conditions of down to -25 degrees celsius, engine start up is facilitated by electric drives.


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.


The BTR-80 has two 12ST-85R1 batteries connected in parallel, or a 6ST-190TR batteries connected in series with a dual G290V three-phase synchronous generator set.

All crew members are provided with the P-124 intercom system.


  There 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).


This 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.



  1. Please note: the last photo is BTR-82AM (check the square PL-1 laser projector, not the round OU-5M on BTR-80A) - they lack the spall liner.

    1. Ah, nicely spotted! I will correct it as soon as I can.

  2. The ''homegrown'' iraqi add-on armour is from Ukraine, and that BTR-80 is BTR-80UP with 'Akustik' modules. Keep up the good work!

    1. Ah, thanks for the heads up! I must admit, I was a little lazy doing the research for this article.

    2. Might be a bit off-topic but are you familiar with the 'Kliver' turret installed as an upgrade to the BTR-80 and BMP-1? If so, will you include it in your upcoming article about the Kornet ATGM?

    3. I'm as familiar as anyone else is about it at this point, but I'm sorry to say that I will not be writing about it. It is currently an only an upgrade option, but never used as far as I know. I will only be writing about realistically relevant stuff, which is also why I did not write much about T-72B2 "Rogatka" in the T-72 article.

  3. Great stuff thank for sharing !

  4. I have a question, what is the full troop capacity for the BTR-80? From what I have seen on web every site says 3 crew(driver, gunner, and commander) and 7 passengers, but from your photos it looks like it can hold 3 crew plus 8 passenger. The driver and commander in the front 2 seats, then there are 2 seats behind the driver and commander for 2 passengers, the gunner is in between those 2 seats and then there are the 2 benches in the back that hold 3 on each for a total of 6. Is that correct? Would this also apply for the BTR-70 and BTR-60PB having the extra spot for the 8th passenger or do they really only hold 3 crew and 7 passengers?

    Thanks for this amazing article by the way, I just found this blog yesterday and have been slowly reading you posts, the amount of time and effort you must put into this is truly amazing. I was wondering, do you think you might do a post on the T-64 later on seeing as you have done one on the T-62, T-72, and T-80? I know this is probably very time consuming so I understand its not something you could just write up real quick, but do you think you might do it eventually?

    1. A Soviet motorized infantry squad consists of 8 men, but when mounted on a BTR, the squad leader becomes the BTR commander, thus reducing the squad to 7 men. When dismounted, the BTR commander dismounts with the passengers, so the vehicle will be crewed by just two men: gunner and driver. Both 2 + 8 and 3 + 7 descriptions are correct. The extra seat is occupied by a platoon leader, or by support personnel like medics. The fourth vehicle in a motorized squad would carry 11 men total.

      Note that this is also true for the BMP.

      Thanks for the kind words. Yeah, I might do a T-64 article eventually, but not anytime soon. I already have a rough draft written up for the 115mm-armed T-64. I definitely won't be writing about the 125mm version of the T-64.

    2. Correction: Four men in the fourth vehicle. Driver, gunner, commander and platoon leader. Passenger seats are left empty.

  5. What is the depression on the BPU-1 turret's weapons?

    It's a trope that soviet vehicles have no depression, and in some video games I've seen the BTR not be able to hit prone infantry that are ~30m away from the vehicle.

    I've also seen all sorts of different numbers different places, from 4 degrees to 12 degrees (somehow) and that it was improved from the BTR-70 and BRDM-2 somehow?? (Perhaps they were confused by the 30mm turret)

    1. There's a bit of unintentional misinformation in the article; the BTR-80 does not use the BPU-1. It uses the MA turret, which is completely different from the BPU-1. The BPU-1 is used only in the BTR-60PB, BTR-70 and BRDM-2. The depression on the MA turret is -4 degrees, and the depression on the BPU-1 is -5 degrees. The main attraction of the MA turret was the higher maximum gun elevation of 60 degrees, compared to just 30 degrees on the BPU-1. The higher gun elevation was one of the new requirements for the BTR-80 owing to the experiences of Soviet troops fighting in the mountains of Afghanistan.

      BPU-1 (BTR-60PB, BTR-70, BRDM-2): -5 to +30 degrees
      MA (BTR-80): -4 to +60 degrees

      It's no trope. It's completely true that all Soviet vehicles have sub-par gun depression.

      Sorry about the firing port hoses part. The entire paragraph was incomplete and full of errors since this article is not high on my priority list (low view count). It has been fixed now. Thanks for reading!

  6. You call it a BMP in the part about the firing port hoses btw :P

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  8. Is there any difference in armor protection from the BTR-70 to the BTR-80? The profiles of both vehicles are nearly identical, so I imagine this could only be due to thicker or higher hardness armor. I do generally see that BTR-80 is supposedly heavier, so is this only due to the new drivetrain or are there armor improvements? Thank you

    1. They're practically the same. Both use 2P high strength high hardness armour plating, and both are virtually immune to 7.62x54mm B-32 ammunition fired from an SVD at point blank range.