In 2017, the Russian Ministry of Defense issued the first order for the supply of Terminator tank / fire support combat vehicles. Soon, this technique was built and even took part in the parade on Red Square. However, only now the first batch of BMPTs is entering trial operation on the basis of one of the formations of the ground forces.
On December 1, the press service of the Central Military District and the NPK Uralvagonzavod reported on the arrival of new equipment in the troops. A batch of eight BMPTs was transferred to the 90th Guards Tank Vitebsk-Novgorod twice Red Banner Division of the Central Military District (Sverdlovsk and Chelyabinsk regions). Experimental military operation of such vehicles is organized on the basis of the division’s motorized rifle subunits.
According to the press service of the Central Military District, the crews for the new combat vehicles have already been formed and are now undergoing retraining. Servicemen are introduced to the design features, basic qualities and combat capabilities. Training events are held with the participation of representatives of the manufacturer.
Details of future trial operation are not provided. At the same time, the messages from Uralvagonzavod and the Central Military District indicate the main features, functions and advantages of the new model of equipment. It should be expected that in the course of the next events, the servicemen of the 90th Guards Tank Division will check how the real characteristics and capabilities of the new equipment correspond to the manufacturer’s statements.
Long way to the troops
The first versions of the modern BMPT, which gave rise to a whole family of projects, appeared at the turn of the nineties and two thousandths. Such equipment regularly participated in exhibitions and attracted public attention – but the interest of the army was limited. One of the BMPT variants passed all the necessary tests and was even recommended for service, but did not enter the army.
The situation changed only a few years ago. The first contract for the supply of Terminators to the Russian ground forces was signed at the Army-2017 forum. It provided for the construction and transfer of 12 production vehicles by the end of 2018. Already at the beginning of 2018, NPK Uralvagonzavod showed the first BMPTs of this order. Shortly thereafter, three armored vehicles took part in the parade on Red Square.
In the autumn of the same year, the Ministry of Defense announced the imminent transfer of 10 BMPTs to units of the 90th Guards Tank Division for trial operation. It was planned to spend about a year on these events. However, as follows from further messages, such a transfer did not take place.
Apparently, the technique of the first batch needed certain modifications, which took a lot of time to complete. Because of this, the real terms of the transfer of the “Terminators” of the 90th division have shifted to the right by more than two years. In addition, the first batch included 8 cars, and not 10, as reported in 2018.
The future is clearing up
At the moment, there is only one contract for the supply of “Terminators” to the Russian army, and it provides for the construction of only 12 vehicles. New orders for this equipment have not yet appeared, and the possibility of placing them is still in question. The reasons for this are simple and related to the current successes of the entire program.
According to the 2017 contract, NPK Uralvagonzavod must assemble and deliver 12 BMPTs to the customer. This technique must pass all the necessary checks, fine-tuning and experimental military operation. Only after all these measures can the army make final conclusions and place new orders. As the events of 2018-2020 show, at the time of the launch of production, the equipment needed fine-tuning.
Fortunately, some of the necessary activities have been successfully completed, and the Terminators have reached military operation. This means that the identified shortcomings have been successfully corrected, and in the foreseeable future the Ministry of Defense will be able to draw final conclusions. Then new orders should be expected, due to which other formations will be re-equipped.
The general needs of the Russian army for BMPT are still unknown. Motorized rifle units of the 90th Guards Tank Division received only 8 vehicles; where the other 4 products of the first order will go has not yet been specified. In addition, it is not known whether all the division’s needs for such equipment have been met. The number of divisions that can be retrofitted with Terminators is also questionable. Thus, the number of BMPTs required by the troops can be estimated within a fairly wide range – from tens to hundreds of pieces.
Interest for troops
A recent press release from the Ministry of Defense mentions the main advantages of the BMPT and the reasons why such equipment is of interest to the troops. So, the use of “Terminators” in the same battle formations with tanks allows you to increase the capabilities of the unit and reduce the risks for combat vehicles. BMPT is capable of fighting lightly armored vehicles and tanks, as well as participating in military air defense, hitting low-flying aircraft and helicopters.
Other advantages are also mentioned in the message from NPK Uralvagonzavod. So, the main barrel armament can be used with large elevation angles, which allows attacking targets on the upper floors of buildings. The complex of weapons is made multi-channel. In terms of the size of the BMPT ammunition, it is twice the size of a typical modern infantry fighting vehicle. It is argued that one “Terminator” in its combat effectiveness corresponds to two infantry fighting vehicles and a platoon of motorized riflemen.
In general, the BMPT is an armored combat vehicle of an unusual type with protection and mobility at the level of the main tank and more varied weapons to defeat a wide range of targets in a wide range of ranges, incl. with the possibility of simultaneous shelling of several. This unusual concept is still a topic of controversy; the same applies to the question of the need for such armored vehicles of the army. However, the Russian Ministry of Defense has already provided positive answers to both questions. The BMPT was considered necessary for the ground forces, which resulted in a contract for the first production vehicles and the recent news of the beginning of experimental military operation.
In parallel with the preparation of “Terminators” for full service, the development of the project continues. New modifications of armored vehicles with new weapons systems are proposed. A great future is predicted for a variant of the BMPT with a 57-mm automatic cannon of increased power. The possibility of transferring the Terminator units to the modern Armata platform is also being considered. However, all these projects are still at the very early stages.
The long-awaited ending?
The latest news is conducive to optimism, but does not put an end to the protracted epic with the creation, promotion and development of tank support combat vehicles. Eight “Terminators” made it to the experimental military operation, which could open the way for mass production and use of such equipment.
Earlier it was reported that it will take about a year for trial operation in the troops. This means that already at the end of 2021, the Ministry of Defense will be able to decide on further plans for the BMPT and take appropriate steps. Most likely, a positive scenario will be launched, and new orders for serial equipment will appear. Thus, the timing and volumes of upcoming purchases are now becoming a topical issue.