BMPT Terminator: Russia’s Supposedly ‘Invincible’ Armored Fighting Vehicle

Photo Credit: Kirill Borisenko / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0
Photo Credit: Kirill Borisenko / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0

The BMPT Terminator is a Russian armored fighting vehicle (AFV) produced by UralVagonZavod. Its mission is to support main battle tanks (MBTs) and other AFVs in urban combat. Only 23 have been produced, with the Terminator equipped by the Russian military since 2002. The vehicles’ most recent engagement is the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian War.

Development of the BMPT Terminator

BMPT Terminator on display outdoors
BMPT Terminator at the Russian Arms Expo 2009. (Photo Credit: Nucl0id / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0)

The BMPT Terminator’s design originated during the Soviet-Afghan War. The conflict showed Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs), such as the BMP-1 and BMP-2, weren’t effective. While Soviet MBTs boasted firepower, they were limited by elevation and depression angles, making them vulnerable targets in mountainous and urban terrains.

The First Chechen War was when the need for a new AFV became obvious. Conventional armor wasn’t optimal, nor effective, in urban environments, and Russia suffered heavy losses, both in troops and equipment. The First Battle of Grozny even saw the loss of an entire mechanized brigade.

Soviet AFVs didn’t have sufficient armor for urban warfare, and they also didn’t have the obstacle-clearing capabilities of an MBT. Throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s, various prototypes were developed. A mock-up of one, dubbed “Object 199,” was publicly unveiled in 2000. Initially, it only had one 30 mm Shipunov 2A42 autocannon and four 9M133 Kornet anti-tank guided missiles. The design process lasted between 1998-2002, with Object 199 going into production in ’02.

Initially, the Russian Army passed on purchasing the BMPT, citing the Soviet-era elements of its design. The Armed Forces of the Republic of Kazakhstan was actually the first operator of the Terminator, ordering 10 in 2010 and receiving them between 2011-13. Algeria followed, with the People’s National Army ordering 300 in April 2016, for delivery in ’18. The agreement fell through, and only 13 were delivered. Azerbaijan and Peru also made failed bids to purchase the AFV.

The Russian Ground Forces signed a contract for the BMPT Terminator in 2017. The first were delivered in March 2018, and they entered service that April.

BMPT Terminator specs

BMPT Terminator on display outdoors
BMPT Terminator at the Armiya 2020 Exhibition. (Photo Credit: Nickel nitride / Wikimedia Commons CC0 1.0)

The BMPT Terminator is constructed on the chassis of the Soviet-era T-72. It’s over 23 feet long; between 11 and 12.6 inches wide, depending on the configuration; and just over 11 feet in height, including the turret. The AFV’s protected by a combination of composite armor, reactive armor and steel.

Five crew members operate the Terminator, which is powered by a single V-92S2 diesel engine with 1,000 horsepower. It has a 20.4 hp/ton power-to-weight ratio and can reach speeds of up to 37 MPH. With a 1,200-liter fuel capacity, it has an operational range of up to 340 miles.

The Terminator carries various types of armament, including four 130 mm 9M120 Ataka anti-tank guided missile launchers; two 30 mm Shipunov 2A42 autocannons with 80 rounds; either two AG-17D Plamya or two AGS-30 Atlant grenade launchers with 600 rounds; and one 7.62 mm PKTM machine gun with 2,000 rounds.

BMPT-72 Terminator 2 and Terminator 3

Three Russian soldiers manning a BMPT-72 Terminator 2 on a city street
BMPT-72 Terminator 2 in Moscow, 2018. (Photo Credit: Dmitriy Fomin / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0)

The BMPT-72 “Terminator 2” is identical to the first, with the main difference being these models are retrofit only. This means they begin as T-72B or T-72M tanks and are upgraded into BMPT-72s. The Terminator 2 is solely intended for the export market, and the process can be completed at customer facilities.

With the removal of the automatic grenade launchers, the crew needed to operate the Terminator 2 is reduced to just three. The AFV is also lighter by four metric tons and smaller. In regard to the engine and armor, the Terminator 2 does not differ from the original.

The “Terminator 3” (its unofficial name) is a newer design that contains the chassis, hull and different components of the T-14 Armata. A newer design still in the works, it is slated to feature different armament than its predecessors: two AGS-40 Balkan grenade launchers, one or two 57 mm autocannons, an automatic gun turret remote controlled weapon station (RCWS), four ATGM Sprinter missile launchers, and one or two 7.62 mm PKTM machine guns.

The third version of the BMPT will be capable of hitting speeds of between 40-43 MPH and utilize a multifuel diesel engine with a hydro-mechanical automatic transmisison.

Built for urban warfare

Line of BMPT Terminators driving down a city street
BMPT Terminators at the 2018 Victory Day Parade. (Photo Credit: Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 4.0)

The BMPT Terminator’s mission is to support MBTs in a combat zone. In an urban environment, two deploy with each tank, and when not engaged in an urban area, the ratio is switched to one Terminator protecting two MBTs. This mission allows the AFVs to engage various enemies, while allowing the MBTs to focus on engaging enemy tanks and other armored vehicles.

The various armament carried by the Terminator allow for greater success in this role, which makes it possible for multiple targets to be struck simultaneously. In theory, it increases the combat effectiveness of the whole force and keeps losses to a minimum.

Deployed to Ukraine

Line of BMPT Terminators driving down a rain-soaked street
BMPT Terminators on parade, 2018. (Photo Credit: Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 4.0)

BMPT Terminators were deployed to Ukraine, beginning on May 18, 2022. They’re reported to be armed with grenade launchers. Only 10 are known to have been sent to the Eastern European country, with one destroyed near Kreminna, Luhansk on February 9, 2023.

The Ukrainian Marine Corps’ 140th Separate Reconnaissance Battalion assisted in destroying the AFV and announced the news in a Facebook post. They stated that they’d spotted the Terminator and provided the coordinates to Ukrainian artillery, who then fired, destroying the Russian AFV.

The Facebook announcement stated, “So, we see that this allegedly ‘invincible’ and ‘unique’ combat vehicle burns just as well as the rest of Russian scrap metal.” The Ukrainian Marines also referenced Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s famous line from Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991), “Hasta la vista, baby!”

Drone footage of the incident was also posted online. Details about the type of artillery and which variant of Terminator hasn’t been disclosed.

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As the Terminator was built with urban warfare in mind, it’s of particular importance to Russia to have these AFVs in its arsenal. Losing one is certainly a blow, especially with so few being sent as part of their invading force. We will see if the vehicle is set to play a greater role in the Russo-Ukrainian War, but at least one Terminator won’t be back.

Ryan McLachlan

Ryan McLachlan is a historian and content writer for Hive Media. He received his Bachelor of Arts in History and Classical Studies and his Master of Arts in History from the University of Western Ontario. Ryan’s research focused on military history, and he is particularly interested in the conflicts fought by the United Kingdom from the Napoleonic Wars to the Falklands War.

Ryan’s other historical interests include naval and maritime history, the history of aviation, the British Empire, and the British Monarchy. He is also interested in the lives of Sir Winston Churchill and Admiral Lord Nelson. Ryan enjoys teaching, reading, writing, and sharing history with anyone who will listen.

In his spare time, he enjoys watching period dramas such as Murdoch Mysteries and Ripper Street and also enjoys reading classical literature and Shakespeare. He also plays football and is an afternoon tea connoisseur.