Russian BMP-3 on parade in 2008.
Source: Vitaly V. Kuzmin - © GNU Attribution Share Alike license
The 2A70 is a late Cold War era cannon of Soviet origin. The 2A70 was developed in the 1980's as main component of the 2K23 combat module for the new BMP-3 mechanized infantry combat vehicle. Although developed in the Soviet Union, few were in Soviet service since only a small number of BMP-3 were produced before the collapse of the USSR.
The 2A70 is a low pressure cannon with hydraulic buffer system. The 2A70 is intended to fire HE-Fragmentation shells and doubles as a launcher for the 9M117 Bastion tube-launched anti-tank guided missile. The 100mm shells are very different from the 100mm shells used in full pressure guns, such as the D-10 series used on the T-55. They are about half the weight and have a much reduced charge. The 100mm shells are normally loaded using an autoloader system. The 9M117 Bastion is loaded manually and is used in conjunction with the 9K116-3 Basnya fire control system.
The 2A70 can be used to launch regular HE-Frag shells out to 4 km. Using extended range shells in combination with an improved fire control system the maximum range is extended to 6.5 km. In the BMP-3 the autoloader holds 22 rounds. Maximum rate of fire is 8 to 10 rounds per minute. The HE-Frag shells are effective against troops in the open, weapon emplacements and light armored vehicles. Against main battle tanks the 9M117 Bastion anti-tank guided missile is used, which comes in three models: the Bastion with single HEAT warhead, the Kan with tandem HEAT warhead and Arkan with extended range and improved penetration.
The 2A70 was developed for use on the Soviet BMP-3, in which it was first adopted in 1987. The BMD-4 airborne infantry combat vehicle also uses the 2A70. China acquired or copied the 2A70 design in the late 1990's. It is used on the ZBD04 and improved ZBD04A mechanized infantry combat vehicles.
The 2A70 was developed to arm the Soviet BMP-3 mechanized infantry fighting vehicle. This remains the most numerous application of the 2A70.
The Chinese ZBD04 mechanized infantry fighting vehicle was developed to provide Chinese forces with similar capabilities as the BMP-3. Although the hull has a different layout, the armament suite is practically identical to the BMP-3.
The ZBD04A is an extensive redesign of the ZBD04. It trades the amphibious capability of the ZBD04 for much better armor protection.
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