Russia, according to Western intelligence inputs, has deployed the Terminator tank support system – the BMPT, also known as the BMPT ‘Terminator’, and its new version the BMPT-72 – in an area that remains its immediate tactical priority in the Ukraine war. What is this latest addition to the Russian inventory of mechanised battle vehicles and what does its deployment mean in the ongoing conflict?
What is the ‘Terminator’?
The Terminator or the Boyevaya Mashina Podderzhki Tankov (BMPT), is a tank support fighting vehicle developed by Russia.
Western military analysts believe that Russia developed the Terminator after identifying the need to provide dedicated protection to main battle tanks it used during the Afghan and the Chechen wars.
The tank support vehicles are designed to protect the Russian tanks against enemy infantry. They are basically a replacement for mechanised infantry troops in the urban battlefield.
The high-level of attrition suffered by the Russian tanks in the ongoing war in Ukraine due to the use of anti-tank weapons provided by the West appears to have pushed Russian military commanders to induct the Terminator. The move is aimed at providing close protection to the Russian armour from Ukrainian tank-hunting infantry.
Where have the Russians deployed it?
According to the latest intelligence bulletin released by the British Ministry of Defence on the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, Russia’s only operational company of BMP-T Terminator tank support vehicles has likely been deployed to the Severodonetsk axis of the Donbas offensive.
According to the British appreciation of intelligence inputs and several independent sightings of the Terminators, their presence suggests that the Central Grouping of Forces (CGF) is involved in this attack – which is the only Russian army formation fielding this vehicle.
The CGF, as per the British MoD bulletin, previously suffered heavy losses while failing to break through to eastern Kyiv during the first phase of the invasion.
As of now, the Severodonetsk area remains one of Russia’s immediate tactical priorities. But with a maximum of ten Terminators deployed, they are unlikely to have a significant impact on the campaign.
What kind of weapons does the Terminator have?
The list of potent weaponry that Terminator is equipped with includes 4×130 mm Ataka-T GWS launchers, 2×30 mm 2A42 autocannons (850 rounds), 2×30 mm AG-17D or 2x AGS-30 grenade launchers (600 rounds), 1×7.62 mm PKTM machine gun (2,000 rounds).
These weapons are capable of firing in multiple directions in quick succession, thus suppressing firepower to prevent any attempt to take out the tank columns being protected.
The BMPT destroys targets such as infantry personnel carrying anti-tank weapons, as well as lightly and heavily armoured targets, like tanks. The BMPT can be put to alternate uses too and can provide protection to infantry or to convoys.
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Where are its other features?
The BMPT was first brought into public domain during the Russian Arms Expo held at Nizhny Tagil in 2013. Guerrilla warfare tactics used by the Chechen fighters in Grozny during the First Chechen War in 1995 led to the development of this weapon system as many Russian tanks were lost in the urban fighting.
The Terminators, initial version BMP-T and the new version BMPT-72, are based on the chassis of the T-72 tank and are produced by the Russian company Uralvagonzavod.
The Terminator’s latest upgrade is equipped with fragmenting ammunition which is essential to target the enemy infantry which lies in wait to destroy the tanks. Information in public domain also reveals that increased gun elevation provides for engaging top floors of buildings in urban environments and also low flying aircraft/drones. The manufacturer claims that a single Terminator can replace two conventional BMPs and an infantry platoon.