The Ukrainian Army Just Blew Up One Of The Russian Army’s 10 Terminator Fighting Vehicles

The single company of unique BMP-T Terminator fighting vehicles that the Russian army deployed to eastern Ukraine last spring was, for many months, pretty lucky.

That luck ran out in recent days. The Ukrainians on or around Thursday bagged their first BMP-T in the woods near Kreminna, 10 miles north of Lysychansk in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region.

Ukrainian artillery scored a direct hit on a BMP-T sitting idle on a forest road. It’s unclear whether the BMP-T was operational at the time. It’s possible it got hit, or broke down, before the Ukrainian gunners dialed in.

In any event, the Russian army just wrote off a tenth of its Terminators. And it’s about to get a lot worse for the surviving BMP-T crews. Ukraine’s Challenger 2 tanks are on their way.

Arms-maker Uralvagonzavod manufactured only 10 or so BMP-Ts for the Russian army. The five-person Terminator is a unique kind of vehicle. It’s not a tank with a large-caliber main gun. It’s not an infantry fighting vehicle with a compartment for a squad of soldiers. No, the BMP-T is something in-between—a tank-support vehicle.

The 48-ton BMP-T boasts a turret with twin 30-millimeter cannons and a quad launcher for anti-tank missiles. Its armor protection—a mix of steel, composite and reactive armor—is equivalent to that of a tank.

In Russian doctrine, the Terminator escorts tanks to protect them from infantry. The need is obvious. Ukrainian infantry packing portable anti-tank missiles have destroyed thousands of Russian vehicles.

Last spring most, or all, of the BMP-Ts rolled into eastern Ukraine and joined the Russian army’s 90th Tank Division near Kreminna.

The Terminators been in the thick of the fighting along what is one of the most dangerous fronts of Russia’s 11-month-old wider war on Ukraine. The BMP-Ts came under fire more than once, and some spent some time in a repair depot.

There’s no repairing the BMP-T that ate an artillery shell this week. The fireball resulting from the hit indicates its ammunition cooked off.

Losing even one of the BMP-Ts is pretty embarrassing to the Russians. The vehicles are media darlings—and proof that, under the right conditions, Russian industry still can produce cutting-edge armor.

In fact, the Russian army has concentrated most of its best armor along the Kreminna sector—not just its BMP-Ts, but also its few new T-90 tanks.

The Ukrainian army is acutely aware of this. It has deployed two of its most capable brigades—the 25th and 80th Air Mobile Brigades—to the same sector, and now is training those brigades to use the first 14 new Challenger 2 tanks that the United Kingdom has pledged to Ukraine.

Unless one of the armies redeploys its brigades in coming weeks, the Challenger 2s soon could meet the T-90s and BMP-Ts around Kreminna. But now there’s one fewer BMP-T to worry about.

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