Based on the BMD-1 airborne combat vehicle, the BTR-D is a longer, but not heavier.
The BTR-D was introduced in 1974 and was first seen by the West in 1979 during the Soviet-Afghan War. It is also known as BMD M1979. As a derivative of BMD-1, BTR-D is 60 mm longer and lacks a turret. Instead, it has a small flat superstructure with a hatch on top. The vehicle has a combat weight of about 8.5 tons, a length of 6.74 m, a width of 2.94 m, and a height of 1.67 m.
The removal of the turret and changes to the hull structure give the BTR-D a larger internal volume and increased payload. The crew consists of the driver, the commander and the left bow mounted machine gun gunner, all of whom are in the same positions and have the same equipment as in the BMD-1. Up to 10 troops are carried inside. Troops enter and leave through the roof hatches. A total of five spherical firing ports allow some of the embarked troops to fire their weapons from within the vehicle.
Standard equipment includes night-vision devices and an NBC system. The vehicle is fully amphibious with little preparation, propelled in the water by two water jets mounted on the hull rear. Before entering the water, a trim vane is erected at the front of the vehicle and the bilge pumps are switched on.
The turret with all of the main armament was removed. The two bow mounted machine guns were retained. The original PKT tank machine guns were replaced by PKB general purpose machine guns. The vehicle can also be fitted with pintle-mounted automatic grenade launchers or machine guns.
The vehicle has six roadwheels on each side instead of five. It has five return rollers on each side unlike the BMD-1, which has four. The armour protection is slightly better on the BTR-D than on the BMD-1. Due to the upper front armour having a dual slanted angle.
The BTR-D is powered by the same engine as the BMD-1. Vehicle is powered by a 5D20 V6 diesel engine, developing 240 hp. Maximum road speed is limited to 62 km/h. When on the water, it can swim at a speed of 10 km/h. The range on land is 500 km and on water is 116 km.