Putin sends the infamous Terminator tank to Ukraine
The BMPT-72 Terminator was designed for urban combat. Now he rolls to Ukraine. Despite its heavy armament, the support tank will not decide the war.
This week, BMPT-72 – better known as the Terminator – were sighted in Ukraine for the first time. After several years of testing, these tanks entered service with troops only last December.
The BMPT-72 Terminator is attracting attention because it is a type of vehicle unique to the Russian Army. A comparable concept was presented only in China (China tank QN-506 is the “New King of War”).
The hull and chassis come from the well-known Russian standard T-72 main battle tank, but the turret differs enormously. The Terminator does not have a long-barreled chariot gun, it was not designed for tank-to-tank combat. It is a so-called heavy support tank that can develop strong firepower at short and medium distances with various weapon systems.
Armored personnel carriers without shooters
It can best be compared to a heavy armored personnel carrier – only that it cannot take riflemen as passengers, but the armament has been increased. The BMPT-72 was designed to fight in urban environments. Battle tanks quickly reach their limits there, for example because they can only rotate the tower freely on large avenues or squares. Also, the main weapon is not very efficient with its single shots at shorter distances. The Terminator is also relatively cheap, since only old T-72s from the magazine have to be refurbished for the fuselage.
The current models – Terminator 2 – are equipped with two 2A42 30-mm autocannons. A 7,62-mm light machine gun is mounted in parallel. Four guided missiles 9M120 Ataka (AT-9 Spiral-2) can fight tanks. There are also two 30mm automatic grenade launchers. Tanks and weapon systems are optimized for urban combat, for example the cannons can be aimed very steeply to fire on high-rise buildings.
The mix of 30mm autocannons and grenade launchers is effective in urban combat. Enemies hidden in apartment blocks can be quickly and effectively attacked with 30mm explosive projectiles. The Terminator’s firepower covers the actions of its own archers, but would also allow them to escape from dangerous situations in this cover.
Appropriate but not essential
Whether Russia is now sending the Terminator into action out of desperation, as Western media headline, is just as questionable as the term “wonder weapon”. Conceptually, the BMPT-72 Terminator is certainly well suited for fighting in Ukraine. The peculiarity of the Ukraine war is that it is a highly mechanized war. With a high importance of artillery, rockets, drones and tanks. However, the main burden of active fighting still lies with the infantry, although they are being massively combated by massed warfare technology. In this respect, a support tank for urban battles is the method of choice. What the Terminator, with all its firepower, can’t change is that armored vehicles have a tough time in Ukraine. The infantry’s anti-tank weapons are taking their toll, combined with combat drones and the deadly combination of artillery strikes and surveillance drones.
So the Terminator will by no means be a game changer, that would also be an absurd requirement that hardly any weapon system meets. Especially since there are only about a dozen models of the BMPT-72 Terminator.