Russia designs new option of BMPT Terminator tank support vehicle


A new wave of rumors and disputes about the third option of the tank combat support vehicle (BMPT) made it necessary to clarify the development trend of the hardware in the coming 5-10 years. The Izvestia daily writes why the vehicle is necessary and which missions it has to fulfil.


Russia designs new option of BMPT Terminator tank support vehicle
BMPT Terminator 2 Tank Support Vehicle (Picture source: Vitaly Kuzmin)


The Syrian experience of the engagement of armor with 30mm automatic guns displayed dubious results of strikes with high-explosive fragmentation shells fired by 2A42 guns in fighting for Aleppo and other towns. They did not inflict major damage to adversary infrastructure and denied surprise assault on fortified positions. Tanks with 125mm guns had to be engaged to destroy them.

The engagement of tank support vehicles in most dangerous directions was a landmark decision which clarified engagement issues for various types of hardware. A defense industry source told the newspaper insufficient power of 30mm guns compelled the military to destroy fortified objects with antitank guided missiles. Thus, one vehicle ensured the advance of ground forces.

BMPT "Terminator" engagement in Syria confirmed the feasibility of another decision related to the protection of the crew and munitions. It is the screens for guided missile launchers suggested by Chelyabinsk Tractor Plant (ChTZ) in late 1980s. The combat experience showed the screens provide advantages to antitank guided missiles located in open tubes. New BMPT can get bulletproof containers for antitank missiles with opening doors or a front cap.

The plans about tank support vehicle R&D were officially announced in the summer of 2018. Industrial Director of the Armaments cluster of Rostec State Corporation Sergey Abramov said Uralvagonzavod (UVZ) began to design the future vehicle according to the combat engagement experience.

The concept of the third BMPT option is no secret. Its likely mockup was presented at Army-2018 forum. The UVZ focused on the creation of a completely new vehicle instead of upgrading the existing cheap undercarriage.

The choice of the unified heavy tracked Armata platform was justified 100 percent. Key claims to the previous-generation BMPT were related to the undercarriage. T-72/90 platform is considered the most reliable in the tank history, but it has a limited modernization potential which impedes the use of prospective combat modules.

Armata was chosen for the next BMPT to promote maximum automatic combat control and maximum effectiveness of new munitions and guns of other caliber. Long before the Syrian campaign (and even before the first and second Chechen wars) it became clear that 30mm guns were the weakest point of the Soviet firepower and their faults demonstrated themselves more often.

The main armor department, the Ground Forces and the Defense Ministry in general realize that. Therefore, the third option of BMPT will get a different combat module with an automatic 57mm gun. It will eliminate the drawbacks of Boomerang-BM which is the latest combat module for 30mm guns. Heavy T-15 infantry fighting vehicle on Armata platform was for the first time displayed with it four years ago.

A new wave of rumors and disputes about the third option of the tank combat support vehicle (BMPT) made it necessary to clarify the development trend of the hardware in the coming 5-10 years. The Izvestia daily writes why the vehicle is necessary and which missions it has to fulfil.

The key dispute between experts was caused by the mockup of the artillery gun demonstrated at Army-2018 forum. Expert Alexey Khlopotov said it is difficult to conclude whether there is any sense in the 57mm gun although it has several advantages. "We say the vehicle has to simultaneously engage in several missions. Besides problems with effective destruction in Syria, a number of other problems was exposed. They include small drones which it is unreasonable to down with expensive guided missiles while artillery is not always effective," he said.

The expert believes the problem can be resolved by an expanded range of munitions which the new BMPT will fire depending on the mission and target. The vehicle armed with Kinzhal module (57mm gun plus Ataka antitank guided missiles) was displayed at Army-2018. Khlopotov said the design of the vehicle needs a balance to operate in any situation. "The two-barrel option is better than the classical one against drones, however it is excessive in fire support to ground units," he said.

There are other requirements to the prospective vehicle. Some reports said the customer wants to install an automatic target tracker while weapon controls may get a device to detect adversary optical means.

In order to operate in bad weather, it is considered to provide a radar channel to fire at air targets in conditions of poor visibility and infrared disturbances. It can be implemented on a new element base. The first option of the combined homing system was implemented in Khrisantema antitank missile and promoted fire in any weather day and night. A source in the defense industry told the publication most of the requirements of the military have been already implemented or are at the final stage of design.

Optical devices of the new BMPT promote precision fire at small drones and helicopter gunships at a distance of 6-7 kilometers. The maximum range of the 57mm gun is 16 kilometers. Naturally, the distances are rare in armed conflicts, but the characteristics allow concluding about the top homing and fire control limits.

The technical assignment for the vehicle is more or less clear, but the round of munitions triggered major disputes. A rough estimation of ammunition consumption showed that instead of 15 rounds per target fired by 30mm gun, the 57mm gun needs one or two to destroy the object. However, the composition of ammunition of the prospective vehicle remains unknown.

The defense industry source said the third BMPT may get armor-piercing composite shots that can pierce 200-mm thick armor in addition to high-explosive fragmentation shells of the 57mm gun. The shells should theoretically destroy light armor in any projection from a distance of 2,600-2,900 meters, and heavy armor from the side and back. Besides, the third BMPT option can have a computer for preset shells. The source said there is no talk about fighting main battle tanks and the mission is not considered a priority.

If Russian designers succeed to resolve all tasks set by the military, the Ground Forces may get a completely new vehicle. The design of its foreign competitor would take at least 10-15 years. On the battlefield, BMPT will decrease the need for infantry-accompanied armor and losses of combat units, the Izvestia said.


 

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