Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu told a meeting of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) board on 29 April that the Russian Airborne Forces (Vozdushno-desantnye voyska or VDV) will receive their ninth and tenth battalions of BMD-4M airborne infantry fighting vehicles this year. Unlike the rest of the mechanized units, which use a variety of APCs and IFVs such as the BMP series, BTR series, and MT-LB, the VDV uses exclusively BMD family vehicles. In March the Russian Airborne Forces received the eighth battalion kit of upgraded BMD-4M IFVs, two more BMD-4M battalion kits will be delivered before the end of the year. The VDV will receive some 15,000 parachutes of various types and more than 400 weapon systems in 2020.
The BMD-4 (Boyevaya Mashina Desanta-4) is an amphibious infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) originating from post-Cold War Russia. Originally designated as the BMD-3M, the chassis of the BMD-4 is the same as that of the BMD-3, because it was developed on the same basis. This armored fighting vehicle is one of the lightest and one of the most heavily armed in its class, possessing a substantial amount of firepower in comparison to its counterparts. The vehicle was designed to transport Russian Airborne Troops (VDV); increasing its mobility, armament, and protection on the battlefield.
There are over 1,800 armored fighting vehicles, mostly BMD-1 (since 1969) and BMD-2 (since 1985). There were also over 100 BMD-3 (1990) that were partially upgraded to BMD-4 level. All of them are amphibious, moving at around 10 km/h in water. The BMD-4 is also capable of full, continuous fire while in deep water, unlike any other vehicle with such heavy weaponry (100 mm gun and 30 mm auto cannon). However, some units (such as those who served on peacekeeping duties in the Balkans) are known to have used BTR armored personnel carriers rather than BMD’s. T-72B3 tanks supplied to the Russian Airborne Forces in 2018 have been upgraded and are equipped with Andromeda automatic control system.
The BMD-4M was unveiled by Kurganmashzavod in 2008. This vehicle retains the Bakhcha-U turret with a number of other innovations. Overall bulletproof crew protection is ensured. Special lightweight and durable alloys make this possible without the vehicle losing its ability to swim or be airdropped. The more powerful and compact engine of the BMP-3 is integrated into the BMD-4M; providing 500 hp. In general, the unification of units, plants, and systems of the modernized BMD-4 chassis with the same units, plants and systems of BMP-3 is 80%. This decreases the expenses of the airborne assault vehicle servicing in the army allowing a significant reduction of service maintenance of airborne combat vehicles in the army.