Russia could be reviewing the possibility of ditching the traditional tank in favor of a machine “that is much more capable of defending itself against missile-equipped infantry and engaging other vehicles at stand-off ranges with anti-tank missiles,” according to Russian expert on defense policy Ruslan Pukhov.
“We discovered that no matter how skillful the crew, the tank would get up to ten hits,” Pukhov, the Director of the Moscow-based Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies (CAST) told the Washington-based Center for the National Interest, US foreign policy think tank, on Tuesday.
“Even if you have perfect armor — active, passive. In one case it will save you from one hit, in another case from two hits, but you’ll still get five hits and you’re done. That’s why now you’re supposed to have some kind of Tank 2.0,” said the Russian expert.
Russia’s Tank 2.0 is not the state-of-the-art T-14 Armata, as some might think, but, as Pukhov put it, “what Russians call among themselves — Boyevaya Mashina Podderzhki Tankov [Tank Support Fighting Machine].”
In fact it’s not a tank support machine but an entirely new type of tank in its own right, a machine which can protect itself.
“So there is a serious debate about it,” the expert explained.
Pukhov further explained to the defense editor of The National Interest magazine, published by the think tank, that in previous eras tanks were more or less protected against weapons like rocket propelled grenades and anti-tank missiles, the latest generation of those weapons however can punch through even the toughest armor.
“That’s why we have the concept of the Tank 2.0,” the magazine quotes the Russian expert as saying.
“We have a prototype of this machine that’s called the fighting vehicle to support tank attack — Terminator.”
Appropriately nicknamed “the Terminator,” these fearsome vehicles sport a turret with two 30-millimeter 2A42 automatic cannons and four Ataka missile launchers. Further, the BMPT has a 7.62-millimeter machine gun next to the main guns and two AG-17D automatic grenade launchers in the hull.
There have been two versions of the Terminator concept that have been developed thus far on the chassis of the T-72 main battle tank.
However earlier in April, Oleg Sienko, a senior manager with the manufacturer, Uralvagonzavod Corporation, told RIA Novosti that Russia also plans to develop its tank support fighting vehicle dubbed the Terminator-3 based on the country’s latest Armata tanks.
The vehicle was designed based on combat experience gained during the Soviet war in Afghanistan and the First Chechen War.
The Russian military then realized that its earlier-model BMP fighting vehicles suffered from thin armor and too few weapons.
During those wars, Russia’s foes hid in mountains or in the upper floors of buildings. As the armored vehicles passed, rebels would shoot down and blow them up – and the vehicles couldn’t aim high enough to shoot back.
In 2005, the Russian military began testing out a small number of Terminators. They could shoot at high angles. Plus, the vehicles had heavier armored derived from the T-72 tank.
As of late 2013, the only operator of the BMPT was Kazakhstan.
Reports suggested that Russia appears to have foregone procurement of the BMPT in favor of the T-15 IFV based on the Armata Universal Combat Platform to fill the role.
If and when the Terminator is ultimately fielded, the vehicle would be able to engage large groups of massed infantry in built-up areas with a combination of missiles and automatic cannon fire.
“We need it badly. Believe it or not, we’re not going to project force, we need to protect our territory,” Pukhov stated.