The Ukrainian military has shown that it knows how to play the “game of drones” quite well, and since the start of the conflict, Kyiv’s forces have successfully employed small off-the-shelf commercial unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to destroy Russian main battle tanks and other vehicles. Just in recent days, such low-cost drones have been used against an advanced T-90 MBT and a Terminator support vehicle.
Videos have shown the destruction of the Kremlin’s highly-touted vehicles, and once again, questions are being asked about the future of large manned armored vehicles such as MBTs. As small UAVs can drop ordnance with deadly precision, and loitering munitions – also known as kamikaze drones – are proven even more deadly, the days of massive armor could be coming to an end.
It is the second “Terminator” fighting vehicle to be destroyed in the fighting – following the loss of one during a precision artillery strike in February.
“A Russian BMPT “Terminator” tank support fighting vehicle was taken out of action and T-80BV was damaged by the Ukrainian SBU “Alpha” using several FPV loitering munitions and indirect fire near Spartak, #Donetsk Oblast,” wrote Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons), which shared the clip of the Terminator being terminated.
Another social media war tracker, WarMonitor (@WarMonitor3), reported that the vehicle was destroyed south of Avdiivka and just north of the village of Spartak.
The Terminator moniker is unofficial, but it fits given its guardian/hunter role in urban environments, where it can provide fire support for accompanying MBTs in an offensive, including the task of fighting enemy personnel armed with man-portable anti-tank weapon systems. The vehicle 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 mm 2A42 autocannons, two AG-17D grenade launchers, and a single coaxial 7.62 mm PKTM machine gun. It is operated by a crew of five.
The anti-tank missile system can reach targets of up to six kilometers, while the Terminator is reported to be speedy for its size, able to reach up to 60 km/h. First introduced more than twenty years ago, its primary role is to support tanks and other AFVs in urban areas. It was designed based on combat lessons gained during the Soviet-Afghan War and later the First Chechen War.
Ten were reportedly produced by Uralvagonzavod, and now it would seem two have been exterminated.
T-90 MBT Targeted
An additional video that first appeared on the social messaging app Telegram over the weekend showed a Russian T-90 MBT fall off a small cliff and then come under attack from a Ukrainian drone. The disabled tank was targeted and destroyed.
Russia has reportedly lost thousands of MBTs in the year-and-a-half-long conflict, and while man-portable anti-tank weapons have racked up the kills, drones continue to be a serious threat that is increasingly difficult to counter.
“Another enemy tank – done,” the Ukrainian 80th Air Assault Brigade said in the post, and claimed the strike was carried out by a low-cost FPV (first-person-view) hobby drone.
“The whole point is cost,” Samuel Bendett, a Russia defense and technology expert at the Center for Naval Analyses, told Insider. “These are extremely cost effective.”
For the price of a new PlayStation or Xbox, Ukraine was able to successfully destroy one of the best tanks Moscow has in service. The only downside for the Ukrainian drone operators is that when it is “game over” they’re left without a fun toy to play with.
#Ukraine: A Russian BMPT “Terminator” tank support fighting vehicle was taken out of action and T-80BV was damaged by the Ukrainian SBU “Alpha” using several FPV loitering munitions and indirect fire near Spartak, #Donetsk Oblast. pic.twitter.com/IcYLcxbDAJ
— ???????? Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) August 12, 2023
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A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.