Russian experts assess BMPT tank support vehicle - Part 1

The Caucasus-2020 strategic command-staff exercise was a key combat training exam and a platform to test new engagement tactic. One of the elements was the use of combat tank support vehicles (BMPT). They participated in several tactical episodes, supported offensive and defensive infantry and interacted with tanks, the Independent Military Review writes.
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BMPT-72 tank support vehicle displayed at Army-2019 defense forum near Kubinka (Picture source: Army Recognition)

BMPT (also called « Terminator » *) has long been one of the most disputable vehicles. It was officially presented in 2000 and later appeared at various defense exhibitions. However, the Russian Defense Ministry has not yet decided whether it needs BMPT or not. In 2010, it excluded BMPT from the arms procurement order and stopped financing the project. The situation changed due to BMPT engagement in Syria in 2017. It proved to be irreplaceable, so the Defense Ministry signed a contract for the vehicles at Army forum in August 2017.

In 2018, the first BMPT participated in the Victory Day parade on Red Square. Central Military District Commander Colonel-General Alexander Lapin later said BMPT would be supplied to the 90th Tank Division for test operation. However, there has been no news about BMPT in the past two years. It is unclear which missions it would fulfill on the battlefield and which units would operate it. There are no photos or videos of test trials. What for do the Russian armed forces need BMPT? Which missions should they fulfill?

There are three BMPT options at present. The first one is product 199. It was designed after the war in Chechnya. The mission was to fight antitank weapons in a city ; its armament included 30mm 2A42 gun, PKT machinegun and two AGS-17 grenade launchers. Four antitank missile launchers were later added. However, Kornet missiles had to hit pinpoint targets at major distances rather than destroy armor. The guided missiles were necessary to destroy bunkers, fortifications, etc. Urban combat affected the composition and capabilities of BMPT weapons. The operator could target them nearly vertically, if necessary. This is important for target destruction in top floors and roofs of buildings.

Designers paid much attention to the protection of the crew. Grozny combat experience prompted to drop a classical tank turret. The commander, the pointer and two shooters are accommodated in the hull of the vehicle protected with reactive and slat armor.

Product 199 was initially mounted on T-72A tank chassis. It was later replaced by T-90. The set of weapons was changed and another coaxial 30mm gun added. Kornet was replaced by Ataka supersonic antitank missile.

The option of product 199 became the main one. It was displayed at all shows. The vehicle got a first – and so far only – customer: 10 BMPTs were supplied to Kazakhstan.

In 2013, Uralvagonzavod, its manufacturer, presented another BMPT option on T-72 undercarriage. The launchers of antitank missiles were hidden in armored boxes. Grenade launchers were excluded. The crew was reduced to three men. The option was called BMPT-72. It was presented at RAE-2013 show in Nizhny Tagil. BMPT-72 mockups were later demonstrated at various shows as a marketing move. In contrast to product 199, customers were proposed to upgrade available T-72 rather than buy new vehicles. So far, no BMPT-72 customer is known.

In late 2016, the Defense Ministry returned to BMPT procurement, however neither product 199 nor BMPT-72 satisfied it. A new option was designed on the basis of product 199. The crew comprised five men and the weapons remained unchanged. The new vehicle differed from BMPT-72 by technical solutions to place dynamic armor. It inherited protective covers for antitank missiles and coaxial 30mm guns. The option was tested in Syria and participated in Zapad-2017 exercise. It was later supplied to the Russian army.

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