The development of the BTR-90 was carried out at the Arzamas Machine Building Plant (AMZ), a subsidiary of GAZ Joint Stock Company. Development was commenced in the early 90s, and the first prototype was completed and displayed to the public in 1994. The vehicle was intended for the use of mechanized units of the Russian Army as well as marine units of the Russian Navy, as a vehicle for fire support, transportation of personnel, surveillance, reconnaissance, and patrolling tasks. A wide range of vehicles suiting various requirements can be developed on the basis of the BTR-90 chassis.
The vehicle is designed to be highly mobile and maneuverable in all terrains while providing a high level of protection for its crew and passengers. The BTR-90 is fitted with a gun turret identical to the one used on the BMP-2.
The BTR-90 has a pointed nose, somewhat similar to that of the LAV-25. The hull is made of welded steel armour plate, and is slightly larger and higher than the BTR-80, from which it is developed.
A turbo charged, liquid cooled, multi-fuel diesel engine is used, which can develop a power of 510 bhp. The vehicle is eight-wheel driven and has an automatic reversible hydro mechanical transmission, which is capable of providing different speeds to each side of the vehicle. Duplicated electrical and compressed air engine start systems are also used. The wheels are utilized with independent torsion-bar suspension and the traverse arms have high capacity telescopic hydraulic shock absorbers.
Communication equipment installed in the BTR-90 include a R-163-50U radio set for external communications, R-163UP receiver, and R-174 intercom device for communication among the crew members.
The layout and positioning of equipment and parts in the BTR-90 is similar to those of the BTR-80 and BTR-80A. The commander and gunner are accommodated in a fighting compartment in the turret. This compartment also houses a BPKZ-42 gunner's day/night sight and 1P-13 commander's optical sight. Optionally, a BPK-Z15 thermal imaging sight can be fitted in this compartment as the gunner's sight.
The driver is located somewhat to the middle of the hull, just in front of the turret. The troop compartment is located behind the driver's position and the turret. The engine compartment is at the rear of the hull.
Hatches are provided on the top of the turret and hull, and side doors are available on the middle of the vehicle. These are designed to allow quick dismounting and boarding of troops even while the vehicle is on the move.
The eight wheels are located as two sets, with two pairs at the front of the hull and two pairs at the rear. Split side doors are located between these two sets of wheels. The two forward pairs of wheels are utilized with power steering.
Capabilities and features
The BTR-90 is capable of achieving a maximum speed of 100 km/h, and has cross-country driving ability comparable to that of tracked vehicles, with an average speed of 50 km/h.
The vehicle is fully amphibious and can negotiate water obstacles without any preparation. Two water jet propellers power the vehicle in water, and it can achieve a maximum speed of 9 km/h. It can enter and be deployed from amphibious assault ships from the water. The BTR-90 can be deployed by truck, rail and also by water and air transportation means.
Its hydro mechanical transmission helps to increase its maneuverability by providing different speeds to each side of the vehicle. This allows the BTR-90 to have a low turning radius of 6 m. When turning with only the front four wheels, it has a turning radius of 14 m. It can cross up to 2.1 m wide trenches and can negotiate 60% gradients, 30% side slopes and 0.8 m vertical steps.
The vehicle has an inner capacity of 12 cubic meters, and can carry a load of 7,000 kg. An air conditioning system can be added optionally. The commander has the ability to carry out all-round surveillance and can take full control of the weapons from the gunner. An onboard information control system (OICS) enables automatic control over the transmission, engine and other important parts of the BTR-90, and it is the first armoured personnel carrier to have such a system. A centralized tire pressure control system is also available, and allows the vehicle to move even if four of its wheels are destroyed.
Armour and protection
The armour of the BTR-90 comprises welded steel armour plates. The armour can withstand hits from 14.5 mm rounds over the frontal arc. The side armour can provide protection against large caliber machine gun fire and shrapnel.
Additional armoured plates can be installed on the vehicle to increase protection. Active protection methods can also be used, such as explosive reactive armour. These can be added over the existing armour of the vehicle. To increase protection, periscopes are installed instead of windscreens and vision blocks.
Collective NBC (Nuclear, Biological and Chemical) protection is available which can protect the occupants from shock waves and penetrating radiation from nuclear attacks, radioactive dust, and bacteriological and chemical weapons.
Its combat tires are capable of enduring anti-personnel mine explosions and small arms fire. If the vehicle is damaged while afloat, a drainage system is capable of removing incoming water. The BTR-90 also features an automatic fire fighting system, and a system for remote laying of smoke screens. The smoke discharge system includes six smoke grenade launchers, three on each side of the vehicle.
The main gun of the BTR-90 is a 30 mm Shipunov 2A42 auto cannon. The vehicle carries an ammunition load of five hundred rounds for this weapon.
A 7.62 mm PKT coaxial machine gun with 2,000 rounds and a 30 mm AGS-17 automatic grenade launcher are the secondary armaments of the BTR-90.
A guided missile system is also available for engaging armoured targets. This consists of four AT-5 Spandrel (Konkurs) missiles mounted on the turret. The launching unit is detachable, and can be used to launch missiles from the ground.
All the weapons are mounted on the turret and are assisted by a fire control system. The fire control system allows the weapons to be used while the vehicle is moving, and in all weather conditions. The turret can be traversed 360 degrees with an elevation range of -5 to +75 degrees. The vehicle's weaponry allows it to engage targets at ranges up to 4 km. Helicopters and fortifications can be engaged at ranges up to 2.5 km.
In addition to the vehicle’s weapons, its occupants have the ability to fire their weapons through available firing ports and hatches, increasing its firepower.