Looks like Russian President Vladimir Putin is pulling out all the stops in his war with Ukraine. It was reported that Russia’s famed “Terminator” tank had been spotted on the frontlines in Donbas, making its combat debut since being ordered last August 2017. Footage circulating on social media showing these Terminator tanks in action was seen with T-72s rolling along Ukraine’s Luhansk Oblast, where the Russians were currently focusing their operations.
“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,” an unnamed military source told Russian state-run news organization Ria Novosti last Wednesday.
Reports of the Russian BMPT 'Terminator' Tank Support Fighting Vehicle noticed around Severodonetsk. pic.twitter.com/v0b96k9D3l
— Dmitri 🇺🇦 (@mdmitri91) May 15, 2022
These Terminator tanks, known officially as “Boevaya Mashina Podderzhki Tankov – Tank Support Fighting Vehicle (BMPT),” are primarily made to provide cover and suppressive fire against enemies. It is manufactured by Russian primary tank builder Uralvagonzavod, which notoriously stopped production due to the unavailability of parts and foreign components. It is built using the 6-wheel chassis of the T-72, possibly for economic reasons, while another unofficial version uses the chassis, hulls, and various components of the famed T-14 Armata tank, which hasn’t been seen in Ukraine. It also utilizes the Relikt family explosive reactive armor (ERA) and slat armor to cover its engine exhaust and its rear.
These Terminator tanks are equipped with four 9M120 Ataka missile launchers, two 30mm 2A42 autocannons, two AG-17D grenade launchers, and one coaxial 7.62mm PKTM machine gun. They reportedly can engage multiple targets at once, making them quite the adversary on the battlefield.
They were first seen publicly during the 2013 Russian Arms Expo, then during the 2020 Victory Day Parade, and were recently seen in Syria but were moved to the Ukrainian border sometime in February. In 2017, these tanks were also seen when Syrian President Bashar al-Assad met with Russian General Valery Gerasimov.
According to veteran British Army Tank Commander Justin Crump in an interview with Sky News, these vehicles were going to be used to support the main battle tanks and suppress enemy fire in urban areas. These vehicles were reportedly a source of pride for Russians, so if they were to get destroyed as well by Ukrainian forces, it would definitely deal another blow to morale.
#Russian BMPT "Terminator" in Donbas. Vehicle was designed for supporting tanks and other AFVs in urban areas. The BMPT is unofficially named the "Terminator" by the manufacturers. It is heavily armed and armored to survive in urban combat. #Terminator #UkraineRussiaWar pic.twitter.com/I93DhEyNb8
— OSINTCentralEurope (@EuropeOsint) May 17, 2022
This deployment comes after the Russian army saw their tanks destroyed by the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the Ukrainian Special Forces in massive numbers, who are armed with various anti-armor and anti-tank weapon systems given to them by their Western allies, notably the US with their Javelins, the UK with their NLAWs (and its e-bike mod counterpart), and the Netherlands donating their German-made Panzerfaust-3s.
SOFREP previously reported on a massive failure of the Russians to cross the Siverskyi Donets River, near the town of Bilohorivka in Donbas, which resulted in over 100 vehicles and tanks destroyed along with an undermined number of dead soldiers. The unit was reported to be Russia’s 74th Motorized Rifle Brigade, a unit that was trying to cross the river with pontoon bridges, which left them in a vulnerable spot without air reconnaissance or support.
More unverified reports of the failed river crossing revealed that the Ukrainian forces had eyes on these Russian units, revealing that the Russians really did lack in securing the area and having eyes in the sky with drones as the Ukrainian forces outmaneuvered them, taking advantage of their static position as pontoon bridges tend to take a few hours to set up.
Prior to this failed river crossing, the Russians had incurred huge numbers of losses on the battlefield, which severely hampered their campaign to sustain, let alone advance in their invasion of Ukraine. SOFREP also uncovered an unverified report by the Ukrainian intelligence agency about Russian documents that supposedly revealed huge losses of Russia’s 1st Tank Army. The 1st Tank Army had reportedly incurred casualties of some 409 troops, killing 61 and wounding 209, with 44 missing as of March 15.
The documents also revealed the losses of the “elite” 4th Tank Division, which was earlier obliterated by Ukrainian forces sometime in March during the battle for Trostyanets in Sumy, some 15 miles from the Russian border.
We have yet to see if these Terminator vehicles will make a difference in Donbas, so we’ll keep an eye out for you. But current numbers do not favor the Russians, as more than 1200 of their tanks have been destroyed, along with more than 3,000 infantry fighting vehicles. On the other hand, the Ukrainians have 70 destroyed tanks, with three damaged, eight abandoned, and 82 captured – not such a bad number considering they have captured tons of Russian tanks and armored vehicles, partly with the help of Ukrainian farmers and their tractors.
These Terminator tanks were supposed to replace older vehicles in Russian inventories by 2019 and so far only a handful have been seen. We expect that the Russians will be interested in protecting the self-generated hype surrounding these vehicles and use them sparingly in combat. The vehicles are meant for combat support in an urban environment and were designed on the lessons learned in Russia’s 20-year campaign to subdue Chechnia. Bringing the Terminator in the urban combat of Ukraine means it will be in range of various medium and short-range anti-tank missiles like the Stugna, Javelin, MLAW and Panzerfaust III. Of course, the Ukrainians will also be hunting them in order to generate their own propaganda about yet another Russian “invulnerable” weapons platform reduced to smoking wreckage on the battlefield. So far, there doesn’t seem to be an anti-tank system in Ukrainian hands that can’t kill a Russian army tank on the first shot and the Terminator is basically a T-72 chassis with an autoloading 30mm cannon in a turret. With the war on the ground turning into one of artillery duels and entrenched defenses, the Terminator is pretty vulnerable to being crushed by a precision-guided Excaliber round from an M-777 howizter.