Images of a “platoon” of Russia’s “Terminator” being sent to the frontlines in Ukraine circulated on social media earlier this week. Multiple videos showed the much-vaunted BMPT “Terminator,” (AFV) that was developed to support tanks and other AFVs in urban environments, heading into the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine.
“Uralvagonzavod designed, based on T-72 chassis, unmanned turret, includes but not limited to a 130mm main gun+dual 30mm auto-cannon. Provides tank protection via infantry suppression in combined arms warfare,” explained the open-source intelligence aggregator MEP OSINT via a tweet on Thursday.
The mobile AFV was designed based on combat lessons gained during the Soviet-Afghan War of the 1980s, and later during the First Chechen War in the mid-1990s. The BMPT was developed to serve in a support role for tanks and other armored fighting vehicles in urban areas. The “Terminator” – a moniker that is technically unofficial but is apt given the platform’s guardian/hunter role – is a multi-purpose heavily armored and armed tracked fire support fighting vehicle that offers powerful armament, advanced fire control instruments, and high maneuverability.
The BMPT platform is built on the chassis of a T-72 main battle tank (MBT), and it is armed with four 9M120 Ataka missile launchers, two 30-millimeter 2A42 autocannons, two AG-17D grenade launchers, and a single coaxial 7.62-millimeter PKTM machine gun. Its anti-tank missile system can reach targets of up to six kilometers, while the Terminator is also quite speedy for its size and able to achieve high speeds.
The Terminator is capable of striking light armored targets, tanks, and infantry fighting vehicles, while it can operate jointly with battlefield air defense systems to fight enemy helicopters and low-flying low-speed aircraft.
The BMPT, which was first demonstrated in 2013 at the Russian Arms Expo and later unveiled at the Victory Day parade in 2020, had been previously deployed to war-torn Syria in 2017 after its president Bashar Assad met with Russian chief of staff General Valery Gerasimov. The upgraded BMPT-72, which is reportedly being used in Ukraine, was developed by the Russian machine company Uralvagonzavod.
It is operated by a crew of five.
This would mark the first time that the Terminator military vehicles have been deployed and used in combat operations in Ukraine.
“Together with tank platoons, BMPTs [nicknamed ‘Terminator’] are involved in the fire destruction of Ukrainian positions, armored vehicles, and crews of anti-tank missile systems,” a Russian defense source told state news agency RIA Novosti, according to a report from the UK’s Independent newspaper.
Though the development of the platform actually began more than 20 years ago, it was never fully embraced by the Russian military – so it is unclear why it is only now being sent into the Donbas region. One theory circulating among some military analysts is that Russia’s ground commanders do not trust the BMPT to be as all-conquering as its name suggests.
A Russian BMPT-72 “Terminator” AFV.
Uralvagonzavod designed, based on T-72 chassis, unmanned turret, includes but not limited to a 130mm main gun+dual 30mm auto-cannon.
Provides tank protection via infantry suppression in combined arms warfare. pic.twitter.com/lNpybarHcl
— MEP OSINT (@MEPOSINT) May 19, 2022
The deployment has only come after Russia has already suffered crushing losses during its invasion of Ukraine, which has seen scores of tanks destroyed. The Terminator may simply be what is available at this time.
Now a Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military hardware, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes.