Unleashing Mayhem at Night, Russian BMPT Terminator’s Surprising Tactics in Ukraine’s Battlefield

Testing of the "Terminator" programme is currently being conducted in the special operations zone, and information regarding application experience is being gathered.

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Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P. Chacko is the publisher of Frontier India. He holds an M.B.A in International Business. Books: Author: Foxtrot to Arihant: The Story of Indian Navy's Submarine Arm; Co Author : Warring Navies - India and Pakistan. *views are Personal

The Russian Armed Forces say that Tank Support Combat Vehicles, the BMPT Terminator combat vehicles, are being used a lot in the direction of Avdiivka in Donetsk, which is in eastern Ukraine. The Russian industry sees the BMPT Terminator combat vehicles as cutting-edge technology, and their use in the Ukraine war has been recorded over time.

On July 11, it was reported by the official Russian Army that the “Yug” (South) group’s “Terminator” BMPT fired 400 projectiles at Ukrainian forces near Avdiivka in the Donetsk People’s Republic from 4 kilometres away.

“We drove up to a closed firing position at a distance of 4 km [from the enemy’s deployment site]. Worked out with high-explosive fragmentation and armour-piercing tracer [ammunition]. The consumption was 400 shells,” the source said.

The commander said the strikes happened at night because thermal imaging equipment works better in the dark to find fortifications, people, and equipment.

Since the beginning of the conflict on February 24, 2022, the Russians have recorded two additional combat uses of the BMPT Terminator vehicles. The first occurred in May 2022 at the Battle of Severodonetsk, and the second occurred in February 2023 during the hostilities near Kreminna, which also marked the first confirmed Terminator loss in combat. Both of these clashes took place in the same general area. 

BMPT Terminator in Combat

Even though the Soviets had been experimenting with drastically different weapons to defeat soldiers and lightly armoured vehicles, including at close range, the Chechnya War compelled the Russian Army to reconsider its position on acquiring such vehicles. The tanks were required to penetrate the settlement and engage in a fierce battle, during which one hit from an RPG-7 could be sufficient to destroy an expensive and valuable vehicle. It is impossible to predict and difficult to prevent such a strike. In the 2010s, BMPT was called a “breakthrough development.” The development of exotic technology was sluggish; the new “half-tank” appeared menacing, but it was unclear what to do with it until the Syrian War broke out.

In Syria, the BMPT was given a rigorous test of its capabilities. The Russians assert that the vehicle is handy in military special operations, eliminating soldiers, lightly armoured vehicles, and automobiles.

The Russians portray the tracked combat vehicle BMPT Terminator, based on the T-90 tank, as a formidable armoured vehicle capable of destroying light armoured vehicles, tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and low flying aircraft. It can also operate alongside anti-aircraft defence systems on the battlefield, engaging at reduced velocities with hostile helicopters and low-flying aerial vehicles.

BMPT Terminator firing its cannon
BMPT Terminator firing its cannon

When the vehicles arrived for testing at the 90th Tank Division about three years ago, they were equipped with the “Ataka” anti-tank missile system (with a range of up to 6 km), two 30mm calibre cannons, two grenade launchers, and a 7.62mm Kalashnikov machine gun, according to information provided at the time. The vehicles are capable of 60 kilometres per hour and have a crew of five personnel.

Testing of the “Terminator” programme is currently being conducted in the special operations zone, and information regarding application experience is being gathered.

Telegram channels revealed the first images of the Terminator alongside tanks in Ukraine at the end of May. Supposedly, these photographs were obtained during combat operations near Severodonetsk. Based on the photographs, it was inferred that the BMPT is being used for its intended purpose: the vehicle operates in coordination with tanks, detecting and engaging targets regarded as a threat to tanks. This enables tank crews to complete their primary mission to leverage the BMPT’s firepower. However, the path to the development of the BMPT was not straightforward; it took nearly four decades to develop the concept and create a fundamentally new model of armoured vehicles.

Lessons From The War

According to military expert Alexey Leonkov, who spoke with Izevesta, the BMPT requires a 57-millimetre gun, not a 30-millimetre one. The machine’s firepower will considerably increase with such a weapon, making it a superior vehicle. Alexey Leonkov stated that the BMPT’s fate and means of modernisation will be determined by its efficacy in combat zones. 

During the Army-2020 military-technical forum, Russia demonstrated the T-15 infantry combat vehicle, the Derivation-PVO self-propelled anti-aircraft gun, and the AU-220M Baikal uninhabited module. This 57-millimetre cannon-equipped module was deemed one of Russia’s most promising military technologies. 

The BMP-3 armoured vehicle served as the testing platform for the initial iteration of the AU-220M module. According to the Central Research Institute “Burevestnik,” which is the company that manufactures these platforms, prototype tests confirmed that all of the needed qualities were present. In addition, the module’s design underwent certain modifications; in particular, the turret’s height on the AU-220M was reduced, which made the loading mechanism more user-friendly. In addition, a more advanced television target monitoring system equipped with more accurate characteristics was put on the module.

Russian media has reported that “Baikal’s” tactical and technical features are noteworthy. Along with the 57 mm cannon, the unmanned module is armed with a machine gun with a 7.62 calibre barrel. Combat vehicles equipped with this module can engage targets from a stationary position or in motion at any time of the day or night and in any weather condition.


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