The Russian military isn’t faring well in Ukraine.
In almost 19 months of war, the Russian forces have lost hundreds of thousands of men as well as tens of thousands of heavy weapon systems and vehicles.
Kyiv’s counteroffensive might not be going as fast as many analysts in the West hoped.
Still, the Ukrainian forces are making steady progress—and destroying some of Moscow’s best weapons in the process.
Video: BMPT Terminator Down
Ukrainian special operations forces used several suicide drones to first incapacitate and then seriously damage a Russian BMPT Terminator as well as a T-80 main battle tank that came to the aid of the Terminator.
The BMPT Terminator is based on the chassis of the T-72 main battle tank and packs four 9M120 Ataka anti-tank missiles, two 30mm autocannons, two grenade launchers, and a 7.62 machine gun. At about 53 tonnes, the BMPT Terminator is a fearsome weapon system to encounter on the battlefield.
The BMPT Terminator is designed to support main battle tanks by taking out anti-tank positions and infantry, thus paving the way for the tanks to either engage enemy tanks or provide fire support.
Until now, the Ukrainian military had destroyed one BMPT Terminator on the eastern part of the contact line.
Back in February, Ukrainian marines from the 140th Separate Reconnaissance Battalion worked with artillery to destroy a BMPT Terminator in eastern Ukraine.
Besides the operational cost, the likely loss of another BMPT Terminator in the fighting will likely have an impact on the shaken morale of the Russian forces, which have been seeing their best weapon systems getting hammered by Ukraine’s Western weapons for months now.
A Conservative Approach
The Kremlin has been extremely conservative with its most advanced weapon systems.
Specifically, the Russian military has been very careful not to deploy T-14 Armata main battle tanks, BMPT Terminators, and Su-57 Felon stealth fighter jets into direct combat.
There have been reports of a handful T-14 Armata tanks getting deployed close to Ukraine, but they most likely haven’t seen any actual combat.
Similarly, the Russian Aerospace Forces have used the few Su-57 Felon fighter jets they have only for long-range strikes.
The BMPT Terminator is the only weapon system that the Russian military has felt confident enough—or desperate enough—to throw into actual close combat.
The reason the Russian Ministry of Defense has been very conservative with its most advanced weapon systems has to do with marketing. The Russian defense and aerospace sector is one of the biggest in the world, even with the war in Ukraine.
Moscow doesn’t want to hurt the marketing of its best products by losing them in Ukraine. Moreover, Moscow likely doesn’t want to reveal any shortcomings in its most advanced weapon systems.
With these limitations, Russian troops will continue to get killed and wounded in Ukraine while fighting with obsolete weapon systems.
#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
A 19FortyFive Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations and a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ). He holds a BA from the Johns Hopkins University, an MA from the Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), and is pursuing a J.D. at Boston College Law School. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.