With Adam Brooker
With the release of WWIII: Soviet, not only has there been a new tank, the T-80, a new AA vehicle – the excellent Tunguska, and the frankly massive TOS-1 – Thermobaric Rocket Launcher, there has also been a new vehicle added to the mechanised infantry company, the BMP-3.
Now given its designation, you would think this is just an upgrade or continuation of the BMP-1 and BMP-2 line, much like the BMP-2 was. But the BMP-3 (Object 688M) was actually originally a prototype for a light amphibious tank (Object 685), to replace the PT-76 light tank. This was ultimately not successful, but they did use the chassis and a new engine as a base for the successor to the BMP-2 to continue their line of infantry fighting vehicles.
The BMP-3 is a significant upgrade on the BMP-2, it not only has thicker armour using a steel/ aluminium alloy and an upgraded turret, it also has a multitude of weapons systems and a laser rangefinder (which was lacking in the BMP-1 and BMP-2). It has a 100mm rifled 2A70 main gun capable of firing both conventional HE shells, or the 9M117 Bastion ATGMs (AT-10 Stabber) which is a laser guided anti tank missile fired from that same 100mm main gun. It also has the 30mm 2A72 Autocannon (which is mounted alongside the 100mm barrel) and 7.62mm PKT machine gun that were both on the BMP-2. With the BMP-3 the Soviets now have an infantry fighting vehicle that can now fight on par with the NATO IFVs and perhaps even surpass some of them.
As an aside, it is actually very cool how the main gun fired anti tank guided missiles work. The AT-10 Stabber is a 100mm round that resembles a normal 100 mm anti-tank round, and is loaded and fired in the same fashion. It uses a reduced explosive charge to launch the projectile out of the barrel of the gun at around 400 to 500 m/s. After leaving the barrel, a small cover falls away from the window on the rear of the missile for the laser guidance. A rocket motor ignites 1.5 seconds after firing the missile, and it burns for 6 seconds, and takes about 12 seconds to travel 4kms, its approximate max range.
So what does this mean in game? Well it means the BMP-3 goes up to FA 5, as compared to FA 2 for the BMP-2, and a side and rear armour of 3, compared to 2 on the BMP-2. This will give it some chance against the rapid fire multi-role AA platforms, like the Gepard, Sgt York and Marksman, especially at range, which would typically rip apart the BMP-2. Additionally it is marginally faster at dash speeds to the BMP-2 and it can also move and fire its AT-10 Stabber ATGM as well as its 100mm 2A70 main gun.
So most importantly, let’s look at the new guns! The AT10 Stabber has an AT of 21, a Firepower of 3+, and a range of 16” to 48” inches, which will allow it to penetrate most NATO tanks frontally, but if it is able to flank the enemy, it will have a very good chance of penetrating any NATO tank. The 100mm 2A70 gun will be excellent for the BMP-3 advancing on dug-in infantry, and should be able to support its attached assaulting infantry in blasting out dug-in NATO infantry. Its 24” range, stationary and moving ROF 1 main gun, is both stabilised and has a 2+ firepower, as well as Brutal. This should be very capable in digging-out enemy infantry, especially if combined with artillery like the new TOS-1 platform.
There are many ways you can field the BMP-3, either as a scout Platoon, as part of a BMP Motor Rifle Company, or as part of any Tank Company except the T-55AM Tank Company. I will add I do see them in the elite T-80 Shock Tank Company, which it the only way to field them with improved stats, eg. 4+ to hit.
If you are thinking of taking them as part of your reconnaissance screen, you can take up to four in the BMP-3 Recon Platoon, or up to three as your recon element in the Shock Tank Company. They are more expensive, but will be a little bit faster (improved dash speeds), and more mobile with their move and shoot AT-10 Stabber missiles for when jousting with armour.
If you want to take them as part of your BMP Motor Rifle Company, you can do so, but they will be very expensive, with three full BMP-3 Company and one HQ BMP-3 (37 BMP-3), costing 93 points, so it will not leaving much left for anything else. I would suggest in this formation to probably take one larger BMP-3 Company as your assaulting force, and one smaller BMP-2 Company to assist and another smaller BMP-1 or BMP -2 Company to defend your objectives. This should allow you a large assaulting force as well as enough of a force to defend the side you are not assaulting through. Remember this will not change the play style of the BMP Motor Rifle Company, which is a mass infantry assault, backed by BMPs, artillery and tanks. You will just have better tools now, but is very much still very similar to how you would use a BMP-2 list.
There is another important addition your forces in the WWIII Soviet book, the upgraded RPG7, the RPG7-VR. This is an upgraded RPG7 with a larger warhead, and a tandem charge to defeat ERA on tanks and other vehicles. It works by the first smaller warhead exploding the reactive armour block prematurely, this renders that particular block of ERA useless, and the larger full calibre warhead then explodes and penetrates the weak spot created by the precursor charge.
In game these are a unit upgrade available to all BMP and infantry companies, but be aware, if you take them for one unit, all units in the Formation with RPG-7s, must be upgraded to RPG-7VRs as well. So it can get very expensive, unless you only take one unit in your force with RPG-7s, say a large BMP unit in a Tank Company…
These types of weapons have been used in real combat, for example in Iraq in 2003, Iraqi Insurgents used it on a M1 Abrams, and achieved a mobility kill. It hit the left side hull next to the forward section of the engine compartment. It penetrated a fuel tank, and flooded the compartment with fuel. Several other allied tanks have been taken out with weapons the same or similar to these, including more M1 Abrams, a Challenger 2 tank and Israeli MBTs.
They can also be taken as a very useful addition to a Tank Company, to spearhead your assault on the enemy objective, just make sure to give your opponents options to shoot at. You would be much happier him focusing on your MBTs, instead of your weaker armoured BMP-3s. Try to use cover and concealment to get you as close as possible before your infantry makes its assault. I know as a West German Team Yankee Commander, I found the BMP Motor Rifle Company lists to be one of the hardest lists to play against. Especially the typical force of two large BMP-2 companies, backed up by a few MBTs, and Hinds. I could take on most of the list, but the two large infantry companies of up to 23 stands each, were very hard to stop. Now they are even better.
Out of all of the Formations that can use the BMP-3 I do find the elite T-80 Shock Tank Company to be the most interesting! This formation has been brought together from the best conscripts and officers coming through the training schools. They are constantly drilling and undertaking very realistic exercises, they are also given the best equipment the Soviet Military can muster. Containing mostly T-80, BMP-3s and BMP-2s, also veterans of the fighting in Afghanistan have been briefing them about their experiences, giving them first-hand knowledge of modern conflicts and tactics.
This Formation has given the Soviets a unit on par with the NATO units, as far as to-hit values and overall skill values. These will be very hard opponents for NATO Forces to face, but the trade off is smaller unit sizes, very similar to NATO platoon sizes. For example, the max BMP-3 Shock Recon Platoon size is 3 x BMP-3, and the largest BMP-3 Shock Motor Rifle Company is 6 x BMP-3, as compared to the 12 seen in the normal BMP-3 Motor Rifle Company. Similarly a Shock Company T-80 Platoon has a max unit size of 3x T-80, so if you have always wanted to find out how hard a NATO player has it, try this Tank Company out……
I think this will be a very popular list for many Soviet players, and is something they have been asking for, for a while, and it certainly cuts down on the painting time needed for a Soviet Force. In fact as a long time NATO player, I think this will be one of the lists I really want to try out, as you get all the toys, and some lovely BMP-3s to boot!!
I think the BMP-3 is a very good unit, while not excelling at anything in particular; it is very good at a lot of things, and a more versatile option than the BMP-2 and well as being better than the BMP-2 overall. It is very much a Dzhek (Jack) of all Trades, and something that will give NATO players more headaches! But I do think it is something that the Soviets needed to keep up with NATO, and we shall see how it affects the meta. It will be interesting the new Forces people will create with it!