ASU of the Polish 6th Air Assault Division
|Place of origin||Soviet Union|
|In service||1959 - 1993|
|Used by||Soviet Union|
|Wars||Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia, Soviet War in Afghanistan|
|Designer||Astrov Design Bureau|
|Manufacturer||MMZ and PMZ|
|Weight||15.5 tonnes (34,171 lbs)|
|Length||6 m (19 ft 8 in)|
|Width||2.8 m (9 ft 2 in)|
|Height||2.1 m (6 ft 11 in)|
|85mm main gun D-70 (2A15)|
|7.62mm PKT or SGMT coaxial machine gun|
|Engine||YaMZ-206V V-6 inline water-cooled diesel
210hp (154 kw)
|Fuel capacity||400 l|
|230 km (161 mi)|
|Speed||45 km/h (28 mph)|
The ASU-85 (Russian: Авиадесантная самоходная установка, АСУ-85, Aviadesantnaya Samokhodnaya Ustanovka, 'airborne self-propelled mount') is a soviet-designed airborne self-propelled gun of the Cold War Era. From 1959, it began to replace the open-topped ASU-57 in service. It was, in turn, replaced by the BMD-1 beginning in 1969.
Development of a new assault gun for the armed forces started at the OKB-40 design bureau of the Mytishchi Machine Building Plant (MMZ), under the supervision of chief designer Nikolaj Aleksandrovich Astrov. The first Ob'yekt 573 prototype was ready for factory tests in the second half of 1953. This first vehicle was followed by a small batch of three improved vehicles that were evaluated by the armed forces in 1956-1957. The improved vehicles were powered by a new, horizontal six cylinder diesel engine, the YaMZ-206V, instead of the original V-6 of the PT-76. In 1958, the order to start series production of the SU-85 - as it was initially known (although there was already a vehicle with that same name, based on the T-34) - was given. However, as a result of an order from the Ministry of Defense to add an armoured roof (the initial vehicles were still open-topped), series production could only begin in 1961. By then, the configuration was already out of date and in the second half of the 1960s, the VDV became the main operator of the SU-85 and renamed it the ASU-85.
The SU-85/ASU-85 is based on the PT-76 tank chassis, but without the amphibious capabilities and fitted with a new engine. The vehicle has three compartments: the driver's in front, the combat compartment in the center, and the engine compartment at the rear.
The armament consists of a D-70 (2A15) 85mm gun, derived from F.F. Petrov's D-48. The L/67 ordnance has a total weight of 1,865 kg and an elevation range from -4.50° to +15°. Traverse is 15° either side. The D-70 fires the same ammunition as the D-48 (3BK-7 HEAT, BR-372 HVAP-T and OF-372 HE), the combat load is 45 rounds. The gun has an effective range of 1,150 m and a maximum range of 10 km. The coaxial machine gun is either the SGMT or the PKT with a combat load of 2,000 rounds.
Both the main gun and the coaxial machine gun are aimed by means of the TShK-2-79 sight. For nighttime fire, the TPN1-79-11 sight is used in combination with the L-2 IR searchlight. Indirect fire is conducted with the help of the S-71-79 and PG-1 sights. Furthermore, the commander is provided with two observation devices; TNPK-20 (day) and TKN-1T (night).
All ASU-85s were provided with an R-113 radio and an R-120 intercom system. In the early 1970s, some vehicles were fitted with a DShK-M 12.7mm heavy machine gun with 600 rounds. These vehicles had a reduced combat load of 39 main gun rounds and received the NATO designator ASU-85 M1974. The original designation was SU-85M or ASU-85M. The ASU-85 could also be equipped with smoke generators BDSh-5.
The Soviet Airborne Forces used the ASU-85 in airborne operations. Its primary role was light infantry support or assault, with limited anti-tank capability. Each Airborne Division had one assault gun battalion with 31 ASU-85. The Polish 6th Pomeranian Airborne Division (Polish: 6 Pomorska Dywizja Powietrzno-Desantowa) had an equal number.
The ASU-85 became possible with the introduction of the Mi-6 and Mi-10 helicopters and high-capacity multi-chute and retro-rocket systems for fixed wing-drops. It was first observed by NATO in 1962, and was widely used by Soviet and Polish airborne units.
During the Soviet-Afghan War, Soviet Airborne troops used ASU-85s in combat.
There are no variants of the ASU-85, but its chassis served as the basis for other designs, such as the GM-575 chassis of the ZSU-23-4 "Shilka" and the GM-568 and GM-578 chassis' of the 2P25 launch vehicle and 1S91 radar vehicle of the 2K12 "Kub" system.
- Nationale Volksarmee received 20 vehicles in 1964.
- Ludowe Wojsko Polskie received 31 ASU-85s in 1966. All were assigned to the 35th Self-propelled Artillery Squadron (Polish: 35. Dywizjon Artylerii Samobieżnej) of 6th Pomeranian Airborne Division (Polish: 6. Pomorska Dywizja Powietrzno-Desantowa) in Kraków. All were withdrawn in 1976 and unit was disbanded.
- Soviet Army operated ASU-85 in airborne divisions of Soviet Airborne Forces, all SPGs were withdrawn from use.
- Gunston B., 'Army Weapons', in: Bonds R. (ed.), Soviet War Power, (Corgi 1982), p. 203-204
- Zaloga, Steven J., Hull, Andrew W. and Markov, David R. (1999). Soviet/Russian Armor and Artillery Design Practices: 1945 to Present. Darlington Productions. ISBN 1-892848-01-5
- Solyankin, A.G, Zheltov, I.G and Kudryashov, K.N. (2010). Otechestvenniye Bronirovanniye Mashiny - XX Vek, Tom 3: 1946-1965, "Tsejkhgauz". ISBN 978-5-9771-0106-6.
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