The BMP vs The BTR


By Mitchell Landrum

Under the new Red Thunder book, the Soviets have two main options for infantry, today we will be taking a look at what makes each list powerful in its own right.

Light Mechanized Vs. Heavy Mechanized
The Soviet Union had a long proud history of mobile infantry, with motor rifle divisions dating back to the Great Patriotic War. The concept of mobile infantry is a force that can quickly be repositioned and can reliably hold on to ground recently captured by advancing armored forces. However, there were many times where mobile infantry worked on the flanks and even ahead of armored forces. This led to the concept of mechanized infantry. Mechanized infantry fight either from armored personnel carriers, such as the BTR-60, or infantry fighting vehicles, such as the BMP series. In Soviet doctrine, troops mounted in APCs were considered light mechanized forces, whereas troops mounted in IFVs were considered heavy mechanized forces.

Light Mechanized forces were intended to move along the flanks of advancing armored forces and act as a rearguard. The concept was to have the infantry dismount and fight as regular infantry forces who could be quickly repositioned should the need arise. The BTR-60 had no significant fighting capabilities, and was generally kept behind the fighting as infantry fought separately.

Heavy Mechanized forces fought side by side with the armored forces and the infantry generally remained mounted until a few hundred meters away from the enemy. Once dismounted, the IFVs would stay with the advancing infantry and provide heavy fire support.

How This Translates
In Red Thunder both light and heavy mechanized forces are available. Both have their respective strengths and weaknesses. To start, I am going to discuss the biggest strength for each force.

Heavy Mechanized Force (BMP Mounted)
The most prominent advantage of the Heavy Mechanized force is their powerful IFVs. The BMP series of IFVs can deliver a strong punch to any kind of enemy. They have AT missiles that are deadly to anything short of the toughest NATO MBTs. Their guns are lethal to any light vehicle or infantry, and their machine guns are capable of dealing with large numbers of infantry. The BMPs also have tough enough armor to deal with large caliber machine guns, but won’t do much to stop anything 20mm in caliber or larger.


The hitting power and mobility of the BMP leads to the BMP Motor Rifle Battalion being an effective attacking or defending force.

Light Mechanized Force (BTRMounted)
The most striking feature of the BTR Motor Rifle Battalion is their size. For 46 points a BTR Battalion can procure 30 AK-74 teams, 27 RPG-7 teams, 3 PKM teams, and 33 BTR-60s in addition to the commander. These staggering numbers will result in high casualties, but for both sides. NATO forces are generally smaller in size, and this formation relies on overrunning forces by getting close and using their overwhelming small arms fire to their advantage. In defense, this formation is very tough to move. Dug in infantry companies with 20 teams are going to be very difficult to shift.


Heavy Mechanized Force (BMP Mounted)
The main weakness of the BMP are heavy NATO MBTs. The AT-5 has an Anti Tank rating of 21, which is is only going to go through an M1 Abrams 33% of the time, and is only going to achieve a kill about 22% of the time. However, those figures are assuming a successful hit, when the skill of the NATO tanks is taken into account the chance to deal damage falls through the floor.

Not only do the BMPs have a slim chance of knocking out an MBT, they have a very high chance of being killed themselves. On a successful hit, the BMP is going to die 83% of the time and will be bailed out the remainder of the time.

Light Mechanized Force (BTR Mounted)
The primary flaw of BTR mounted infantry is well placed mortar strikes. To stay with the unit leader, infantry teams must move in a cluster. If that cluster is caught in the open and targeted by any sort of artillery, it’s game over. If a a battery of 6 mortars ranges in on the infantry in the open, there is going to be a mess of Soviet infantry. These infantry have the same trouble with MBTs as their heavy counterparts do, but their numbers should tie up the tanks while their AT assets can knock out the enemy tanks.


Overall both forces are great and a ton of fun to play. The choice between the two is a matter of playstyle. BTR forces can act as a strong anchor for armored forces, and can provide a solid back line which will provide a high number of support options and great variety. On the other hand BMP forces will be strong assault troops capable of a variety of missions. There will be fewer points available for support, but the combat units themselves will be more capable. It is just a case of whether you want a bunch of different units that are very specialized or fewer units that can handle any threat the battlefield throws at them. Better yet, pick up some of both and see which you like better!