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ASU-85 6 Dywizji Powietrznodesantowej.jpg
ASU of the Polish 6th Air Assault Division
Type Assault gun
Place of origin Soviet Union
Service history
In service 1959–1993
Used by Soviet Union
Wars Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia
Soviet–Afghan War
Production history
Designer Astrov Design Bureau
Designed 1951–1959
Manufacturer MMZ
Produced 1959–1966
Weight 15.5 tonnes (34,171 lb)
Length 8.49 m (27 ft 10 in)
Width 2.80 m (9 ft 2 in)
Height 2.10 m (6 ft 11 in)
Crew 4

Armor 40–45 mm
85 mm main gun D-70 (2A15)
1× 7.62 mm PKT or SGMT coaxial machine gun
Engine YaMZ-206V 6 cylinder inline water-cooled diesel engine
210 hp (154 kW)
Power/weight 13.5 hp/tonne
Transmission mechanical
Suspension torsion bar
Fuel capacity 400 l
230 km (161 mi)
Speed 45 km/h (28 mph)

The ASU-85 (Russian: Авиадесантная самоходная установка, АСУ-85, translit. Aviadesantnaya Samokhodnaya Ustanovka, ASU-85airborne 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.[1] It was, in turn, replaced by the BMD-1 beginning in 1969.

Development history[edit]

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 By then, the configuration was already out of date and in the second half of the 1960s, the VDV became the main operator of the SU-85 and renamed it the ASU-85.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) 85 mm 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. It can penetrate 192 mm (7.6 in) of steel armor from an angle of 60° at a maximum distance of 1 km.[2] 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.

Service history[edit]

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.

In early 2016, Vietnam expressed interest in an upgrade package for the ASU-85 that includes more powerful powerpack that increases road speed from 45 to 60 km/h (28 to 37 mph) and cruising range from 400 to 450 km (250 to 280 mi).[2]


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.


Map of former ASU-85 operators in red

Current operators[edit]


Former operators[edit]

  • 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 Union

Surviving vehicles[edit]

ASU-85 at the Muzeum Polskiej Techniki Wojskowej in Warsaw.
ASU-85 at theMuseum of Polish Arms in Kołobrzeg.


  1. ^ Tanks and armored fighting vehicles : visual encyclopedia. New York, N.Y.: Chartwell Books. 2012. p. 286. ISBN 9780785829263. OCLC 785874088.
  2. ^ a b Vietnamese army back into service the old Soviet-made ASU-85 self-propelled anti-tank gun -, 24 April 2016
  3. ^ Fisher, Richard (21 April 2016). "DSA 2016: Vietnam may update Soviet era ASU-85s". IHS Jane's 360. Kuala Lumpur: IHS Jane's. Retrieved 21 April 2016.
  4. ^ Militarne Podróże
  • 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.

External links[edit]