‘Universal Soldier From the Future’: How Russia’s ‘Terminator’ BMPT Has Proven Itself in Ukraine

NEW – January 18, 2023

Tank support combat vehicles are highly effective in the special operation in Ukraine

Many myths have developed around this unique combat vehicle in recent years.

It was widely believed that the “Terminator” tank support vehicle was designed based on the experience of fighting in Afghanistan and Chechnya. There, the enemy was mainly located in high-positioned firing positions, which were not possible to reach with tank weapons, so anti-aircraft installations were used, and it was also established in large settlements.

This was the basis for the myth that stuck firmly to the machine about its exclusively “urban” and “mountain” orientation.

The combat experience of local conflicts has shown that tanks are not always able to fight them, and IFVs that carry infantry capable of destroying tank-dangerous manpower do not have good armour and are forced to work at a distance from tanks.

It is impossible to equip tanks with additional anti-personnel weapons — grenade launchers, machine guns or small-caliber guns-because their crews are already overloaded.

Conclusion: it’s necessary to create BMPs that can effectively operate in the same formation as tanks.

It is worth remembering the history of the creation of this combat vehicle. The initiator and inspirer of the design of a specialised tank support combat vehicle was the legendary General Sergey Mayev. From 1985 to 1987, he was Deputy Commander for Weapons of the 40th Army stationed in Afghanistan and at the same time Chief of Weapons of the Turkestan Military District.

It was Mayev who put forward the idea to create a machine that has even better armour protection than a tank, but armed with small-caliber weapons that make it possible to provide hurricane firepower within a radius of up to two kilometres.

The Ministry of Defence of the USSR supported the idea. The main contractor was a special design bureau of the Chelyabinsk Tractor Plant. In 1992, the BMPT was ready for state tests… The Chelyabinsk Tractor Plant went bankrupt. The dashing 90s came, when the country’s military-industrial complex was collapsing before our eyes.

The project was saved by the fact that General Mayev became head of the Main Armoured Vehicle Department of the Ministry of Defence in 1996. He managed to transfer his work to Nizhny Tagil -Uralvagonzavod. There, in 2002, a new prototype of the combat vehicle was manufactured.

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By 2006, the BMPT-1 successfully passed state tests. The machine, however, was somewhat simplified and cheaper. The basis of the “Terminator-2” was the T-72. The turret with a 125-millimetre cannon was removed from the tank and a combat module was installed with two 30-millimetre cannons, a 7.62 mm machine gun and four “Ataka-T” missiles.

In 2017, the BMPT-2 was finally put into service. And they have already proven their combat effectiveness.

The combat vehicle is capable of performing an extensive range of tasks due to its tactical and technical characteristics:

Combat weight – 48 tons.

Length (with the gun forward) – 7200 mm; width (according to the side screens) – 3800 mm; height (according to the commander’s sight) – 3440 mm.

Engine power – 1000 hp

Speed on the highway – 65 km / cruising range on the highway – 550 km.

The crew consists of a commander, a gunner, a driver and two operators of course grenade launchers.

The vehicle is based on a tank chassis, instead of a turret mounted uninhabited combat unit. With the help of a filter-ventilation unit, purified air is pumped into the inhabited part. Overpressure prevents toxic substances and radioactive dust from entering the interior.

The BMPT is equipped with an individual torsion bar suspension and moves thanks to the multi-fuel diesel engine B-92S2, which produces 1,000 horsepower.

The security of the “Terminator” is comparable to the T-90 and even exceeds it thanks to the “Relikt” dynamic protection system.

If the T-90 is protected from anti-tank weapons within the heading angle of plus or minus 35 degrees, then this indicator reaches 360 degrees for BMPT. Additional fabric screens with dynamic protection elements are installed in the most extreme situations and ensure maximum safety of the vehicle even during shelling as normal.

The weapon block is located on a support in the stern part of the turret, the ammunition is placed outside the armour. Electromagnetic protection, in turn, is aimed at the premature detonation of anti-tank mines or land mines with radio and magnetometric fuses.

The “Terminator” has the following basic armaments: two 30-millimetre 2A42 guns (850-900 rounds); a 7.62-millimetre Kalashnikov or “Kord” machine gun (about 2000 rounds); a “Kornet” ATGM (four launchers); two AG-17D grenade launchers.

This arsenal allows to fire high-density fire at four targets simultaneously. Guided missiles of the anti-tank complex are equipped with cumulative, high-explosive and thermobaric warheads.

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BMPT carries on the turret two blocks of two missiles. The crew can effectively engage drones, helicopters, and low-flying aircraft. The third version of the “Terminator” provides for the installation of a 57-mm cannon, in the shell of which you can put smart wiring with a programmed detonation.

The AU-220M Baikal is designed as a remote-controlled uninhabited artillery module and is equipped with a 57-millimetre automatic cannon and a 7.62-millimetre machine gun.

BMPT “Terminator-2” is a parallel development of the first model. The combat weight is reduced to 44 tons, and the lack of automatic grenade launchers has reduced the crew to three people.

The vehicle on the T-72 chassis was armed with two twin 30-millimetre cannons, a guided weapons system and one tank machine gun. On the sides of the turret there are two armoured casings, inside which are located transport and launch containers with guided missiles.

They hit armoured targets at ranges of up to six kilometres. The fire control system consists of the commander’s and gunner’s sights, laser rangefinders, ballistic calculators, and a weapon stabiliser. Targets are detected at a distance of five kilometres during the day and 3.5 kilometres at night.

The tank support vehicle has been given a baptism of fire in Syria. But it was considered a dark horse.

In all its glory, it showed high efficiency and reliability in the special operation in Ukraine. Perhaps the first significant battle for the BMPT took place on the outskirts of Popasnaya, which became one of the key points of the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ defence in the Lugansk direction.

For a long time, the fighting for this locality mainly thundered along its outer perimeter, which allowed the Ukrainian military to change firing positions relatively safely – often at night.

Here “Terminators” came in handy as well as possible. Thanks to the removed armament, the vehicles fired from behind shelters at the moving enemy at a long distance, without entering into close combat contact.

Looking for targets with the help of a thermal imager, the BMPT crews created a barrage of fire with twin 30-millimetre cannons, hitting enemy personnel with high-explosive fragmentation shells.

Indeed, Russian military units are trying to use “Terminators” as the very “long arm” capable of destroying targets threatening tanks at long distances, which is facilitated, among other things, by supersonic missiles capable of hitting at a range of visibility of the horizon — 5 kilometres or more.

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The statement of the designer of this machine, who claimed that the BMPT in this version is a sniper rifle, once again confirms this.

In general, based on media reports and other information channels, the tactics of BMPT units are as follows: shoot back at the most dangerous areas, suppressing the possibility of return fire, and give tanks the opportunity to finish off the most protected objects that can only be effectively hit by large calibre.

However, do not think that the “Terminator” is an exclusively armoured tank destroyer. It is also actively working against manpower, which is one of its priority goals. Just infantry is often not entered onto the track record — it is difficult to count, and the tank as prey looks more solid.

That’s why messages in the style of “5 tanks/combat vehicles destroyed” appear much more often than reports on the number of infantry dislodged.

A separate line contains reports on battles in localities. When cleansing them, “Terminators” are also used and quite successfully at that.

In this case, they, as already mentioned, look much better than other equipment. But it is unlikely that we are talking about deep raids in the most saturated anti-tank areas, where friendly infantry and artillery come to the fore.

Nevertheless, many experts call the “Terminator” a universal soldier from the future, capable of more. Effective means of detecting and recognizing targets, an automatic fire control system, and the synthesis of barrel and guided missile weapons offer huge advantages on the battlefield.

The unique machine is capable of hitting up to three groups of targets simultaneously with all types of weapons using several sights: combined with optical and thermal imaging channels, panoramic with thermal imaging channel and laser rangefinder, as well as day and night sights of grenade launcher operators – in early versions of the machine.

“Terminator” has an aerosol shielding system that protects against high-precision weapons and semi-active laser detection systems of the enemy.

The automatic surveillance system provides optical and acoustic detection of laser radiation, automatic guidance of the aerosol screen on enemy anti-tank ammunition and rotation of the commander’s panoramic sight on the laser radiation source. Additional features are provided by the integration of the vehicle into a single tactical control system.


Gennady Alyokhin

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