Although somewhat similar in appearance to the Russian BTR-80, the BTR-3 is an entirely new vehicle rather than an update of the existing vehicle.
The BTR-3 is designed to be able to perform multiple roles, such as carrying troops, weapons and other supplies to support armed forces on the battlefield. It can be used as a reconnaissance, combat support and patrol vehicle. The hull of the BTR-3 is designed with all-welded steel armour, which provides maximum ballistic protection to troops against small-calibre automatic weapons. The body of the vehicle is lined with Kevlar liner for better protection.
Basically, the design of the BTR-3 is quite similar to the previous Soviet-era BTR wheeled vehicles, with a weight of about 16.4 tons, a length of 7.65 m, a width of 2.9 m, and a height of 2.8 m. The crew of 3 includes commander, gunner and driver. The passenger compartment can accommodate 6 soldiers. The armor provides protection against small arms fire and artillery shell splinters. It is fitted with NBC protection and automatic fire suppression systems.
The BTR-3 has greater internal volume, more powerful and fuel efficient engine, and many other improvements over the BTR family. It was powered by a Deutz AG engine, with 326 hp. The maximum speed is 85 km/h, the range is 600 km. This APC is fitted with a central tyre pressure system, that allows to adjust the tyre pressure to suit terrain conditions. Also it is fitted with run-flat tyres. The BTR-3 is fully amphibious. On water it is propelled by a single waterjet.
Variants of the BTR-3 include: BTR-3U “Hunter”, BTR-3E, BTR-3DA, and BTR-3KSH. The BTR-3U is fitted with the one-person KBA-105 “Shkval” unified fighting module which can accommodate 30mm gun, 7.62mm coaxial machine gun, 30mm automatic grenade launcher and anti-tank guided weapons. This module design is versatile, but can also with another turret. The sighting systems include a commander’s 1PZ-3 observation periscope and a TKN-4S Agat stabilised sight which is integrated with the missile fire control system.
BTR-3DA is an upgraded version purchased by the Ukrainian armed forces in 2017. BTR-3DA is BM-3M Shturm-M weapon station armed with ZTM-1 30mm autocannon, KT-7,62 machine gun, KBA-117 30mm grenade launcher. BTR-3KSH is a version of command and control vehicle.
By far, the largest foreign operator of the BTR-3 is Myanmar, with a contract around 1,000 vehicles. Other operators include UAE, Azerbaijan, Chad, Ecuador, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Nigeria and Thailand.