Images posted on social media have revealed that the first BMPT-72 “Terminator” fire support vehicles ordered by the Algerian People’s National Army have now arrived in Algeria. The delivery of the vehicles was first reported by local media, although without pictorial evidence.
The Algerian Army signed a contract for the purchase of 300 BMPT-72s in 2016, with deliveries originally planned to begin in 2018. As is the norm for orders from UralVagonZavod, however, deliveries have clearly been delayed.
The BMPT-72 is a simplified version of the original BMPT Terminator offered by UralVagonZavod. Like the original Terminator, it is built on a T-72/T-90 hull and has a low profile manned turret armed with four 9M120 Ataka ATGMs and twin 30mm 2A42 autocannons. However, the BMPT-72 forgoes the two sponson-mounted forward-firing automatic grenade launchers and their two operators seated in the hull, and the Relikt explosive reactive armor package is more similar to that of the T-90M and T-90MS.
The Terminators have had a decidedly spotty history, with its main foe to date being the procurement process instead of its intended urban battlefield. While touted by UralVagonZavod as the answer to the Russian experience in the First and Second Chechen War, it was developed as a private initiative instead of in response to an actual Russian Ministry of Defense requirement, which led to its initial rejection by the Ministry of Defense and UVZ turning to the export market.
Russian experience in their intervention in the Syrian Civil War has further undermined the premise of the Terminator, with some fortifications encountered requiring artillery direct fire to neutralize, the sheer high explosive mass of which none of the Terminator’s armament can match. Additionally, Terminators do not share ammunition with the tank platoons they are supposed to operate with, complicating logistics. For its part, Terminator “field testing” in Syria resulted in some examples gaining a layer of field applicable “bagged” explosive reactive armor, something shared with other Russian armor “field tested”.
Despite its status as a “solution in search of a problem”, the Terminator did manage to be exported to Kazakhstan, as well as eventual small scale adoption by the Russian Ground Forces. That the Algerian military would spend a significant amount on what appears to be a folly, however, is small consolation to its regional rivals due to the sheer amount of other Russian military hardware imported by Algeria. Algeria has further increased its already large military expenditures of late, owing to increased regional security risks and the modernization of its neighbours’ militaries.