As indicated by armed conflicts, wheeled armored personnel carriers (APC's) are capable of considerably enhancing any army's combat potential. They are used to transport infantry units to the battlefield and engage in reconnaissance, combat security and patrolling, military cargo transportation, the towing of artillery guns and mortars. They are also used as medical and staff vehicles, mobile radio stations, recovery vehicles, repair shops, etc. In a number of cases they can accomplish fire support missions for infantry acting in combat formations. Developed by GAZ designers and manufactured since 1986 at Arzamas Engineering Plant, now known as AMZ joint stock company, the BTR-80 replaced previous versions, BTR-60PB and BTR-70. The BTR-80 armored personnel carrier is a four-axle, eight- wheeled vehicle, with all drive wheels, an independent suspension and water jet propulsion system. The APC is capable of following tanks and negotiating emplacements, trenches and water obstacles. It is equipped with ten seats to accommodate the personnel. The APC mounts devices for collective protection of the personnel from blast action and initial radiation during explosions of nuclear ammunition and from radioactive dust, bacteriological materials and toxic agents during the vehicle's operation on contaminated terrain. The vehicle is armed with a turret machine gun mount, designed to fight ground and low-flying air targets at ranges of up to 2,000 meters. The turret mount accommodates a 14.5-mm large-caliber machine gun (KPVT) and a coaxial 7.62-mm machine gun (PKT) with a traverse of 360° and an elevation of +60° to -4°. For battlefield illumination during night firing, there is an OU-3GA2M searchlight on the machine gun bracket. Six 3D6 smoke grenade launchers have been placed on the turret mount to provide smoke screens for camouflage purposes. The BTR-80's high mobility is ensured by the KamAZ-7403 turbocharged diesel engine, an eight-wheel drive, the wheels' independent torsion suspension, large ground clearance, and centralized tire air pressure control system. The engine is a V-form eight-cylinder, with a maximum power of 191 kW at 2,600 min-1 and a maximum torque of 785 Nm at 1,600-1,800 min-1.
Since 1993 the BTR-80 is powered by the YaMZ-238M2 with similar characteristics. Thanks to its design features, the BTR-80 can keep moving, even if one or two wheels are completely disabled. The vehicle remains totally intact, even if it hits an anti-personnel mine. If hit by an anti-tank mine, as proved in Afghanistan, it can keep moving as the blast energy normally damages only one of the eight wheels. The centralized tire air control system enables the driver to set pressure to suit changing movement conditions, ensuring low unit soil pressure and high cross-country capacity, which is comparable with tracked vehicles. The BTR-80 can use KI-80 or KI-126 bullet-resistant tires. Even when damaged by multiple hits of all calibers of bullets and in a total absence of air pressure, the BTR-80 can still keep going for another several hundred kilometers.
The BTR-80 is equipped with a self-recovery winch, mounted in the hull nose, with a tractive force of 43,120 - 60,000 N, which can be doubled with the aid of the pulley attached to the vehicle. The power unit preheater enhances the vehicle's combat readiness at low ambient temperatures, however, the design of the engine and its systems ensures the APC's start without preliminary heating, when the outside temperature is as low as minus 25 °C.
The semi-automatic fire extinguishing system for the power unit and two carbon dioxide fire extinguishers in the personnel compartment enhance the survivability of the armored personnel carrier. Thanks to the availability of four hatches, positioned in the hull roof, and two double-wing doors on the right and left sides of the vehicle its crew and infantry men can easily mount and dismount at a rapid pace. The bottom wing of the door forms a step as it is opened, thereby enabling mounting and dismounting, when the vehicle is on the move. In other words, the BTR-80 meets the best world standards, and even surpasses them in terms of some characteristics.
The BTR-80 surpasses its foreign counterparts in the following areas:
the ports for small arms fire by the infantry men are better arranged, adding to the APC's fire potential. The seven ports on its sides are turned forward, with one positioned in the hull front (straight ahead) and two on the roof (the latter allow for fire at high-set targets). Two ports enable machine gun fire;
the ports are equipped withspherical bearings that enable firing from inside the vehicle without depressurizing the fighting compartment even on contaminated terrain, as the filter-ventilation unit supplies purified air inside the APC;
the front projection of the APC hull ensures protection of the infantry men from 7.62-mm assault rifle and also 12.7-mm machine gun fire;
the APC is equipped with ananti-roll-down mechanism, which prevents the rolling down of the APC, when it comes to a halt or starts moving on grades, and facilitates the driver's actions in mountainous areas;
the APC can negotiate water barriers in its stride without any preliminary preparation. Owing to its water jet propulsion system, the APC can move easily across shallow waters and overgrown water bodies as it is not damaged in this case. The armored personnel carrier can be transported by any means of ground, sea or air transport.