World: Confronting the Armor Gap

Travelers alighting at Kabul airport shortly after the Soviet invasion have been greeted by a menacing spectacle: a line-up of one of the meanest looking, deadliest vehicles in the world's arsenal of armor. The vehicles are BMDs, a combination light tank and armored personnel carrier used by Soviet airborne divisions. The versatile, 8-ton vehicle is armed with a 73 mm gun, three machine guns and an antitank missile launcher, and carries a crew of five. Like all Soviet-armed vehicles—including the similar but slightly larger BMPs that are also being shipped to Afghanistan—the airtight BMDs can churn through clouds of nerve gas,...

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