Ukraine’s first—and so far only, it seems—BMPT-62 Terminator armored fighting vehicle already is in front-line use, just a few weeks after the vehicle first appeared in photos while under construction.
The thickly-protected Terminator now belongs to the Ukrainian army’s 128th Mountain Brigade, an elite unit that has spent much of Russia’s 15-month wider war on Ukraine battling Russian forces in the south.
The 128th was at the vanguard of Ukraine’s southern counteroffensive back in October. Today it helps to anchor the Ukrainian front line in Zaporizhzhia Oblast just east of the Kakhovka Reservoir, which drained its five billion gallons of fresh water into the Dnipro River’s western floodplain on Wednesday after Russian forces apparently blew up the reservoir’s dam.
If and when the 128th Mountain Brigade takes revenge for that act of environmental sabotage, the Terminator could play an important role supporting the brigade’s T-72 tanks and BMP fighting vehicles.
The BMPT-62 is Ukraine’s answer to Russia’s own, very rare BMPT Terminator AFV. The Terminators aren’t tanks: their guns are too small. They aren’t infantry fighting vehicles, either, as they lack passenger compartments. No, they’re niche vehicles whose main role is escorting tanks and IFVs, lending rapid firepower and thick armor to a combined-arms team.
Where Russian vehicle-maker Ural Transport Engineering Design Bureau based the BMPT on the hull of a surplus 49-ton T-72 tank, Ukrainian engineers—reportedly paid by the Serhiy Prytula Charity Foundation in Kyiv—built their own Terminator on the hull of a 41-ton, ex-Russian T-62.
That is to say, the Russian version of the three-person vehicle is the better-protected and better-armed version. The Ukrainians have mitigated this imbalance by adding blocks of Kontakt-1 reactive armor to the BMPT-62’s hull and turret.
The Russian Terminator has a turret with twin 30-millimeter autocannons. The Ukrainian Terminator’s own turret, borrowed from a captured Russian BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicle, has just a single 30-millimeter autocannon.
The Ukrainian Terminator’s designers have added to the vehicle blocks of Kontakt-1 reactive armor, which explode when struck and can add the equivalent of hundreds of millimeters of steel to the 100 millimeters of steel a baseline T-62 wears at the front of its hull.
The 128th’s BMPT-62 apparently is the first Ukrainian Terminator, but it might not be the last. Ukrainian troops have captured at least 45 Russian T-62s and hundreds of BMP-2s.
With $46,000 in donations funneled through the Serhiy Prytula Charity Foundation, technicians converted at least one ex-Russian T-62 into an engineering vehicle. That leaves slightly more than 40 T-62 hulls that the Ukrainians could transform into additional Terminators.