At the end of March this year, the Uralvagonzavod Research and Production Corporation announced the completion of assembly and testing of the first batch of support combat vehicles tanks / fire support "Terminator". 10 production vehicles were sent to the customer and became the first examples of their type in the Russian army. In the foreseeable future, new deliveries will take place, with the help of which the required fleet of equipment will be formed. Despite such successes, the BMPT project is still controversial.
The main reason for the ongoing disputes is the fact that the "Terminator" - like any other model of military equipment - has not only positive features, but also disadvantages or ambiguous features. This contributes to the beginning of the most active discussions, and the fundamental decisions of the military, such as adopting equipment to the armament, only aggravate disputes. Let's try to figure out what claims are made to the BMPT, and what she can say in her defense.
The Russian projects of the BMPT of the Terminator family are based on rather simple but curious ideas. It is proposed to equip the serial tank chassis with a special turret and an updated weapon system. Instead of a tank gun and a set of machine guns, it is proposed to use a pair of automatic guns, machine guns, automatic grenade launchers and guided missiles. It is argued that such a weapon system allows the combat vehicle to fight a variety of objectives, choosing the most effective in this situation.
The first claim to the "Terminator" concerns the level of protection of the machine and its individual units, directly affecting the combat survivability. All tank models are based on a tank chassis: for example, the production vehicle for the Russian army is built on the basis of the T-90 tank. This chassis has a combined frontal armor, covered with blocks of dynamic protection. In general, in terms of protection, the corps of such a “Terminator” corresponds to existing tanks and is able to withstand shelling from various weapons, including quite powerful.
However, the tower of this armored vehicle, apparently, seriously loses on the protection of the body. All weapons systems and fire controls are located inside the armor casings, but it is obvious that they are able to protect only from bullets, fragments and small-caliber shells. The layout of the weapon is also not conducive to increasing survivability. Barrels of guns and containers with anti-tank missiles are located outside the tower. However, in the new project for their protection additional covers are provided.
Thus, the domestic "Terminators" protect their crew well, but at the same time expose to great risks weapons and ammunition. This means that under certain circumstances during the battle the armored vehicle risks losing some of the most powerful weapons from the enemy’s fire, with a certain drop in fighting qualities.
As planned by the engineers, the BMPT can use the PKTM machine gun and AG-17D automatic grenade launchers to combat manpower or unprotected targets. Lightly armored vehicles or buildings can be attacked using two 30-2 42-mm cannons. In case of a meeting with the Terminator tanks, it carries four Ataka-T missiles. Depending on the weapon used, the armored vehicle is capable of attacking targets at ranges from hundreds of meters to 6-8 km.
The existing weapon system looks interesting and very effective, but it can be criticized. For example, the subject of a claim may be an existing missile system. It is assumed that with his help BMPT will be able to help tankers in the fight against enemy tanks, destroying part of the targets at long distances. However, the Terminator’s ammunition consists of only four missiles. Thus, after only a few launches, the armored vehicle will be able to deal with the most serious threat only with the help of automatic guns, the effectiveness of which will be insufficient.
In the context of guided and artillery weapons, BMPTs are sometimes compared with modern main battle tanks, and this comparison is usually not in its favor. Thus, in the fight against armored vehicles, any serial domestic tank has the ability to "meet" the enemy with guided missiles, and after approaching a sufficient distance to use armor-piercing shells. In case of a collision with infantry or lightly armored vehicles, the tank has high-explosive fragmentation shots and machine guns.
According to known data, the Terminator BMPT is equipped with a modern fire control system that meets current requirements and is built using “tank” devices. In particular, at the disposal of the commander and gunner there are combined sights with day and night channels, as well as a laser rangefinder. The gunner's sight is located in front of the main part of the turret and is intended for tracking the forward hemisphere. The commander, in turn, must use a panoramic sight.
The instruments used make it possible to monitor the situation, search for targets and direct the main weapon, but even here weak points can be found. First of all, the Terminator sights have rather weak protection and therefore can hardly be distinguished by high combat survivability. However, there are similar problems with many other modern models of armored vehicles. Another specific point - the lack of special advantages over the instruments of serial tanks. As a result, the BMPT, working in the same order as the tanks, will not be able to find targets earlier and faster.
This can adversely affect both the Terminator’s own work and joint operations with tanks. The fact is that modern anti-tank missile systems may have an increased firing range, superior to the capabilities of optics and small arms of mass-produced tanks. In this case, their detection and destruction becomes the task of BMPT, but their potential in this matter may be limited. Fortunately, such problems can occur only in the field of detection tools. The presence of a pair of automatic guns guarantees the successful destruction of the found complex, along with the calculation and transport in a wide range of distances.
According to various sources, the BMPT in its latest version, which became the subject of the contract between Uralvagonzavod and the Ministry of Defense, is distinguished by a rather high cost - which is also not an advantage. Due to the use of dissimilar weapons and special control systems, as well as the results of other innovations of the project, the finished “Terminator” costs more than the T-90 production tank, on the basis of which it is being built.
It is worth recalling that the domestic tank support combat vehicle was first introduced in the late nineties, but for nearly two decades it could not get into service with the Russian army. Until a certain time, the reason for this was the ambiguity of the concept and the lack of an appropriate tactical niche in the existing strategies. In other words, the military simply could not find a place for the "Terminator" in the army. And this can also be considered a problem of BMPT.
For several decades, the task of fire support of the infantry was assigned, first of all, to tanks. In this case, the soldiers, supported by armored fire, were supposed to protect the tanks from tank-dangerous targets. In such a system, the task of supporting infantry could also be carried out by infantry fighting vehicles and armored personnel carriers. The concept of BMPT was based on similar ideas, but did not fit into the existing views on the organization of an all-arms battle. It turned out that the "Terminator" is a vehicle for supporting tanks, which, in turn, are designed to support infantry. It all seemed overly complicated and expensive, but at the same time, it seemed, it offered no advantages.
As a result, for a long time, BMPT projects remained without real prospects. However, by the end of the two thousand years, a fundamental decision was made to adopt the Terminators. In the future, new difficulties arose, because of which these plans were not realized. The first contract for the supply of new equipment was signed only last year, and serial vehicles went to the troops just a couple of months ago.
The tank support / fire support vehicle finally arrives at the Russian armed forces and replenishes the fleet of vehicles with only a few parts. In this case, the debate about this technique does not stop. Their continuation contributes to the preservation of the characteristic features of the machine, which from certain points of view may look like flaws. However, the army has already made its choice and nevertheless decided to begin the operation of unusual equipment.
Word for practice
One may consider the “pure” appearance and technical characteristics of armored vehicles, as well as conduct mental experiments, but practice will still remain the criterion of truth. And in this regard, "Terminator" has already managed to show their best. For several years, prototypes of a number of modifications passed various tests at landfills. Then the advanced technology, having passed the necessary refinement, went to a real war.
In 2017, the Terminator was sent to Syria for verification in a real armed conflict. With this technique, it was necessary to solve problems that are definitely different from those in its name. Since the Syrian army and its opponents do not conduct large-scale tank battles, the BMPT was planned to be used as a means of fire support for infantry. In practice, it was shown that the existing combination of tank armor, cannon-machine gun and rocket weapons allows to solve a wide range of combat missions within the framework of a local conflict.
As far as we know, it was the results of the operation of the “Terminators” in Syria that became one of the main reasons for adopting such equipment. In August last year, a contract appeared for the serial production and supply of new combat vehicles. The first batch of such equipment was transferred to the customer at the end of March. In the near future, the remaining vehicles will be handed over to the army, and the contract will be fully completed no later than 2019.
The events around the Terminator project that have been observed lately actually put an end to many years of controversy. During the tests and trial military operation in a hot spot, it was found that such equipment is suitable for service and can be ordered for the army. Among other things, this means that the various specific features of the BMPT, which could be considered to be shortcomings, are in fact not so. Combat vehicle meets the requirements of the battlefield and can find a place in the Russian armed forces.
The future issue
While the Russian army was deciding whether it needed the Terminator, the designers of Uralvagonzavod NPK did not lose time. In recent years, they have offered a whole family of tank support / fire support vehicles. All these projects are based on common ideas, but use different components. First of all, several “Terminators” differ in the type of base chassis. Some of these projects have already been implemented in metal and brought to the test, while others are still waiting in the wings.
Originally, BMPT was developed on the basis of the main tank T-90. After a number of changes, this is the version of the armored vehicle that went into the series and is delivered to the troops. Also several years ago, Uralvagonzavod presented a modification of the Terminator based on the chassis of the T-72 tank. Despite certain changes of one kind or another, the main features of the technology remained the same. To promote projects on the market, several prototypes were built on different chassis, regularly demonstrated at various exhibitions.
A few years ago, plans were announced to create a new version of the Terminator. This time they plan to install a tower with various weapons on an Armata type chassis. To date, the unified tracked platform of this type has managed to become the basis for a tank, a heavy infantry fighting vehicle and an evacuation vehicle. In the future it is planned to continue the development of the family, creating new models of equipment. One of them will be a tank support / fire support vehicle.
Perhaps the new family project will involve a significant increase in firepower. For example, a pair of 30-mm guns can be replaced with one 57 mm automatic rifle. This will improve the main fire qualities of the machine, as well as increase the effective range and expand the range of targets hit. However, while this project is in its early stages and the company-developer, probably, cannot yet submit a prototype or its model.
Anyway, after long years of uncertainty, Terminator BMPT still managed to get into the army. While the plans of the military department do not provide for the purchase of such equipment in large quantities, but in the future the situation may change. In this case, the project develops, which leads to the emergence of new modifications. What will be the fate of these options BMPT - it remains only to guess. However, it is obvious that the recent successes of the existing “Terminators” will positively affect the further development of the family.
On the materials of the sites:
BMPT "Terminator": a successful failure?
- Ryabov Kirill
- Photos used:
- NPK "Uralvagonzavod", the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation