Since its first public appearance in 2005, the Боевая машина поддержки танков or BMPT Terminator, meaning tank support combat vehicle, at the same time generated many fantasies and speculations, as well as a lot of skepticism on the part of certain armored specialists. The Russian armies themselves were far from being convinced of its usefulness alongside its T72, T80 or T90. In fact, the orders were homeopathic, and only for testing purposes. But when in 2018, the modernized variant Terminator 2 was sent to Syria for tests in a combat environment, the results obtained apparently finished convincing the most skeptical within the Russian general staff, and a procedure to effectively test and integrate the armored vehicle into the Russian armies was initiated. The first of these tanks were delivered to the 80th Armored Division from Chelyabinsk, according to a report broadcast by Russian media, where they will be intensively tested in the company of the tanks they must escort.
Traditionally, battle tanks have been escorted by infantry fighting vehicles and the infantry they transport, in order to eliminate armor and infantry units, particularly anti-tank units, and to prevent attacks. attacks from the flanks or outside the area of effectiveness of heavy tanks. The BMPT Terminator was designed to replace, on its own, simultaneously infantry fighting vehicles as well as dismounted infantry units. In fact, in a non-urban environment, 2 BMPTs can escort a squad of 3 combat tanks, instead of 6 IVCs and 40 infantry soldiers, according to the Russian approach. In an urban environment, the doctrine would provide for deploying 2 BMPT per tank.
To carry out this mission, the Terminator has 3 armaments independent of each other, capable of simultaneously engaging 3 types of target. Its main armament is based on two anti-tank missile launchers armed with 9M120 ATAKA missiles radio guided and tandem shaped charge, capable of hitting targets up to 10 km. The 7,5 kg military load of the ATAKA can eliminate all types of tanks in service in NATO, even in the frontal sector. In addition, there are two 2 mm 42A30 automatic cannons each with 850 shells, each capable of firing 300 shells per minute up to 2500 m in taut fire, and 4000 m in ballistic fire. Finally, for short range engagements, the BMPT has two 30mm grenade launchers with a total of 600 loaded grenades. The system can launch up to 450 grenades in one minute, each grenade being able to be propelled up to 1700m, and having a lethal radius against infantry of 7 meters. Finally, a 7,62mm coaxial machine gun with 30mm guns completes this substantial armament.
Firepower isn't the Terminator's only notable attribute. Indeed, the armored vehicle is mounted on a T90 heavy tank chassis powered by an 840 hp engine, propelling the 48 tons of the armored vehicle to more than 60 km on the road, and giving it a power / weight ratio of almost 20 hp per ton. . In fact, the BMPT is very mobile, and able to accompany and even precede when necessary the tanks it escorts. Its shielding is roughly comparable to that of the T90, including Relikt active protection modules designed to neutralize shaped charges, even in tandem. In addition, it benefits from a shot detection and laser sighting system, and a Soft-Kill protection system.
The 5-man crew is made up of a driver, a gunner, two weapon operators and a tank commander. It is protected against nuclear, bacteriological and chemical attacks, like other Russian front-line tanks. Finally, it has several multi-spectral optics capable of detecting and engaging targets up to 7000 meters, day and night, and in poor visibility conditions. Thus adorned, the Terminator 2 seems indeed capable of meeting many needs, particularly in the areas of urban and high-intensity combat.
Why in this case was its adoption so difficult and controversial in the Russian armies? The BMPT was designed to prevent a scenario similar to that of the entry of Russian tanks into Grozny in 1994 during the First Chechen War, does not happen again. On December 31, 1994, tanks and infantry fighting vehicles of the 81st Russian Guard Rifles regiment entered Grozny, then in the hands of the Chechen independence rebels. After advancing a few kilometers without encountering resistance, the column was caught in a crossfire of anti-tank units and machine guns, destroying the leading T72 and the armored vehicle at the end of the convoy, then methodically eliminating all the vehicles in the column. The Russian tanks and IVCs, designed for combat in the plains, did not have the possibility of raising their armament sufficiently to engage the assailants posted on the roofs and upper floors of buildings in the Chechen capital.
As for the embarked infantry forces, intended precisely to eliminate these threats, they were made up of young conscripts, who tried to protect themselves in the armored vehicles, instead of engaging the adversary. This scenario was repeated for nearly a month, costing the lives of more than 2000 Russian soldiers, and officially leading to the destruction of 62 tanks and 160 armored vehicles. The massacre did not end until the Russian forces changed their tactics, and began to strike heavily at Grozny with artillery and air force, without however succeeding in weakening the Chechen resistance. The first Chechen war ended on August 31, 1996 with the withdrawal of Russian forces and the Treaty of Khasavyurt. Russia regained control of the province in 2000, in what was called the Second Chechen War, this time relying on loyal Chechen units that would later form the bedrock of President Kadyrov's regime.
The Chechen experience profoundly marked the Russian headquarters, which undertook to considerably strengthen their infantry means supervising the deployment of tanks, and to favor the use of long-distance weapons in urban combat. In fact, the BMPT Terminator, when presented, went against the new doctrine of the Russian armies, which is why it was more or less ignored, even if its appearance on the shows always attracted attention. As such, Kazakstan and Algeria commanded the tank, even without it being officially in service with the Russian armies.
The Terminator 2 variant, or BMPT-72, officially presented during the victory parade on May 9, 2018, takes over the characteristics of the Terminator, but replaces the chassis of the T90 with that of the T72, of which Russia has large stocks under cocoon. Cheaper than the original Terminator, it requires only 3 men for its implementation, the 2 grenade launchers having been removed, as well as their operators. The armored vehicle benefits from the same protection and mobility as the BMPT, but sees its electronics and combat system modernized, with more automated tasks. It is this version that was sent to be tested in combat conditions in Syria, as was the case with many Russian equipment in recent years, with apparently significant feedback immediately integrated and corrected by manufacturers.
Strictly speaking, there is no equivalent to the Russian Terminator in the West. The closest armored vehicle, in spirit and in use, could be the Jaguar EBRC (Armored Reconnaissance and Combat Vehicle) of the SCORPION program of the French Army. This 6-ton 6 × 25 armored vehicle carries a 40mm CTAS gun and two MMP anti-tank missiles, as well as a 7,62mm turret machine gun remotely operated by the 3-man crew. It also has optics and a combat system giving it combat capabilities against infantry, light armor and tanks at short and medium range, like the Terminator, and its 40 mm CTAS gun. offers capabilities against infantry, light armor and low-level aircraft up to 4000m.
The Jaguar is intended to play the role of a projectable light tank in the French armies, but also to arm armored reconnaissance units as well as to support Leclerc heavy tanks if necessary in their high intensity engagements. Lighter of almost 15 tons, it is naturally less armored than the Terminator, even if the Army plans to equip it in a second time with a hard-kill protection system, in addition to its existing soft-kill systems. Anyway, knowing that the French armies have always favored mobility and maneuvering in armor, we can admit that today, the Jaguar is the western armored vehicle closest to the Russian Terminator.