Mainly targeted at the export market, the BMPT-72 Terminator II was designed around the ageing T-72 platform. Unlike its predecessor the Terminator I, this new version was formatted as a retrofit package, which means it’s available purely as an upgrade for existing T-72 hulls. not as a stand-alone vehicle. The BMPT-72 armament allows it to be used for the suppression of enemy positions (and against light armour), but also for engaging vehicles with four turret-mounted Ataka (NATO Spiral-2) anti-tank guided missiles.
The Terminator 2 is designed to prevail in the modern urban battleground providing support to MBTs or by themselves as they are fully armed to attack both heavy armoured vehicles or softskins and infantry. The BMPT-72 terminator 2 uses the T-72 hull and substitutes the turret for a new one armed with twin 30mm 2A42 guns, four 130mm 9M120 Ataka-T anti-tank guided missile, two AG-17D 30 mm grenade launchers and one 7.62 mm PKTM machine gun and is protected with the latest ERA and “Relikt” explosive reactive armour which is claimed to be 3 times more effective than the older Kontakt system.
Tank support combat vehicle
In theory, mechanized infantry, self-propelled artillery and armored forces are mutually supporting. Artillery rains destruction to the front and flanks as infantry personnel carriers and dismounted infantry protect tanks from enemy anti-tank systems and enemy infantry. Simultaneously, tanks protect the personnel carriers and dismounted infantry from enemy tanks and strongpoints. In practice, personnel carriers have problems keeping up with fast-moving tanks; their armor protection is too thin to survive at the point of the attack; and battle drills between tanks and mechanized infantry frequently break down due to the lack of sufficient team training prior to combat. Artillery fire may be on or off target, or too early or too late. The bottom line is that there is often too great a gap between the tanks and the mechanized infantry at the crucial point, and artillery may not bridge that gap.
The proliferation of RPG-7 anti-tank grenade launchers and anti-tank missiles has complicated the task of tanks and mechanized infantry working together. An example of this is when the Russians entered the Chechen city of Grozny Dec. 31, 1994. The first unit to penetrate the city center was 131st “Maikop” Brigade. Russian forces initially met no resistance when they entered the city at noon. They drove their vehicles straight to the city center, dismounted and moved into the train station. Other elements of the brigade remained parked along a side street as a reserve force.
Then the Chechens attacked with RPGs. They first destroyed the Russian lead and rear vehicles on the side streets, trapping the unit. The tanks could not lower their gun tubes far enough to shoot into basements or high enough to reach the tops of buildings. Infantry fighting vehicles and personnel carriers were unable to support their tanks. Chechens systematically destroyed the column from above and below with RPGs and grenades. Other Chechens surrounded the force in the train station.
The commander of the Russian unit waited until Jan. 2 for reinforcements, but they never arrived. Part of his decimated unit broke out. By Jan. 3, 1995, the brigade had lost nearly 800 men, 20 of its 26 tanks and 102 of its 120 armored vehicles.
The Russians decided that the tactical gap between tanks and mechanized infantry is almost inevitable. The battle in Grozny on New Year’s Eve 1994 provided the impetus to develop a heavily armored close-combat system. The Russians discovered that the thinly armored ZSU 23-4 self-propelled anti-aircraft gun was the optimum system for tank support in city fighting, but its vulnerability offset the efficiency of its four 23mm automatic cannons. To ensure the survivability of tanks, they needed a new system that was built like a tank but provided mutual close- combat support. The new system should provide protection against enemy anti-tank weapons, infantry, strongpoints, helicopters and fixed-wing aviation. The new system needed to be an integral part of the armored unit, but it could not be a modern T-35 with five turrets and multiple weapons.
The Russian answer was the BMPT tank-support vehicle. It was not a BMP, and the Russians were not discounting the value of mechanized infantry in the combined-arms team. They were recognizing that mechanized infantry may not be at the critical point at the critical time to support tank operations in traditional and urban combat roles.
Terminator developer Uralvagonzavod created the first version of its combat support vehicle in the late 1990s based on the experiences of the Soviet Afghan and Chechen wars.
To provide fire support to tank and infantry units, the tank support combat vehicle BMPT-72, a version of the BMPT tank support combat vehicle derived from the T-72 tank, has been developed. This vehicle offers protection similar to that of a tank and an armament suite capable of effectively detecting and destroying pinpoint concealed targets. With its advanced target search and acquisition aids, an automated fire control system, a lethal multi-channel automatic armament suite and all-round crew protection, the BMPT-72 can effectively provide fire support to units in all types of combat in difficult geographical areas, against any enemy, day and night.
The BMPT-72 is made by converting decommissioned T-72 tanks. Those outdated T-72 tanks can be converted into BMPT-72, in which armament repair and modernization are impractical due to obsolescence and unserviceable condition. Revamping the T-72 into the BMPT-72 includes the removal of the turret and its replacement with a BMPT’s overhead weapon station with remote-controlled weapons (automatic guns, machine gun and missiles). The weapon station is placed in a superstructure located outside the crew compartment. In addition, repair and optional modernization of the chassis are carried out. Revamping the T-72 tanks into the BMPT-72 can be done at customer production facilities.
The BMPT-72’s fire control system with gunner and commander multi-channel sights makes it possible to detect and engage targets with two 30mm 2A42 automatic cannons using high-explosive and armor-piercing shells in bad weather, day and night. The ammunition load is 850 rounds in two belts.
A guided missile system includes two launchers with four supersonic guided missiles carrying HEAT and thermobaric warheads which can be fired at the halt and on the move, day and night. A coaxial 7.62mm machine gun is used as secondary armament.
The gunner’s station is equipped with a multichannel sight with optical and thermal imaging channels, a laser rangefinder, a built-in laser missile guidance channel and independent two-plane FOV stabilization. The commander’s sight is panoramic, combined with TV and thermal channels, a laser rangefinder and independent two-plane FOV stabilization.
As a tank derivative, the BMPT-72 features a high level of protection and can operate in the same battle formations with tanks under enemy fire.
Multilevel protection of the BMPT-72 is provided by: low observability due to small dimensions and disrupting painting; armor protection; integral ERA; automated smoke-screen laying system; additional bar armor.
Small dimensions and disrupting painting make the BMPT-72 low observable on the battlefield in any terrain. Its automated smoke-screen laying system provides protection against semi-active, laser-guided ATGMs and artillery projectiles as well as countermeasures against laser rangefinders used in artillery systems.
Armor protection of the BMPT-72 is shell-proof, multi-layered and comparable to that of an MBT, but, unlike the latter, it has no weakness zone in the frontal plate due to the lack of a gun port.
Equipping assault units with a set of well-protected vehicles (tanks and BMPT-72s) makes it possible to build a military formation balanced in terms of missions and materiel.
Current Terminator-2 operators include Russia and Kazakhstan, with Algeria set to receive several hundred starting in 2018, and other countries, including Azerbaijan, Peru, and Syria showing interest.
Russia Tests BMPT-72 (Terminator-2) in Syria