A brisk uphill drive to Oakley‘s global headquarter in Foothill Ranch, California, just at the bend of the road, you will notice, unmistakably, a tank. To be more precise, a Soviet-design, Czech-made BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicle.
Primitive by today’s standard, when the Boyevaya Mashina Pekhoty, or BMP-1, first introduced in 1966. It also created a new category among military vehicle. Though armored personnel carrier existed since World War I, the BMP-1 introduced several crucial elements, such as a turret with the 73 mm 2A28 Grom smoothbore cannon w/ autoloader. Now, the once lowly troop carrier could join in on a full frontal assault with main battle tanks. Thus, the BMP-1 is not categorized as an armor personnel carrier (APC), but as the first infantry fighting vehicle.
In addition to the 73 mm smoothbore cannon, other armaments on the BMP-1 included a co-axial 7.62 mm PKT machine gun and launcher for the then new AT-3A Sagger A anti-tank guided missile. A 300-hp diesel engine easily propel the 13-tonne vehicle to 40 mph across any terrains, even river crossing. A flick of a switch, direct injection of diesel fuel produced instant smoke screen through the BMP-1’s exhaust plume. The 1.3-inch thick armor provided adequate protection against 23 mm armor piercing and 7.62 mm rounds. The driver seated offset to the left of the vehicle (right next to the engine) followed by the commander station. The gunner manned the gun in the turret with the autoloader mechanism and approximately 40 rounds of ammunition. Most importantly, the squad of 8 infantry, seated along the centerline bench in the back. Faced outward, the troop would stood up for greater visibility from the 4 large overhead hatches. When hatches are closed, each solider could attached his AK-47 assault rifle to a firing port on the side and aimed through individual bullet-proof periscope. In the case of nuclear, biological, and/or chemical (NBC) weapons usage on the battlefield, occupant could hook up his gas mask to a central ventilation system at each of the stations.
Despite its revolutionary design and concept, the BMP-1 suffered several flaws. This included the constant breakdown of the autoloader for the 73 mm cannon. Another was the location of the fuel tank, which were shaped as seatbacks for the infantry and the 2 hinged rear doors. Although diesel does not burn easily, a well-placed shot meant a substantial fuel leak.