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Middle East , Ground

Israeli and Syrian Interest in Russia's New BMPT-72 'Terminator' Advanced Tank Support Platform

September 10th - 2017

Russia's introduction of the new BMPT-72 Terminator tank support combat vehicle (BMPT) into service in 2017 has made it a world leader in the field - with capabilities unparalleled by any other ground vehicles of its kind in the world. The vehicle is armed with two 30mm cannons, two 30mm grenade launchers, four 130-mm Ataka T anti-tank guided missiles, a 7.62mm machine gun and two smoke grenade launchers. It can engage multiple targets simultaneously with its various weapons systems, is able to detect any potential threats within 5km, and is capable of engaging infantry, armour and helicopters. Alexander Shevchenko, chief of the Russian Defence Ministry's Main Automotive Armoured Tank Directorate said regarding the development: "This year, the Russian Armed Forces will receive a vehicle of a fundamentally new class - a tank support combat vehicle. Many countries, primarily Israel and Syria, have shown interest in this vehicle."

The BMPT-72 was built as a support vehicle - a variant of the T-72 main battle tank built on the same chassis. It's capabilities are especially suited to city warfare, able to engage targets on multiple stories simultaneously and well armoured from all sides. The tank was based on Russia's extensive experience in engaging in city warfare during the Chechen wars, where Russian armour suffered extensive losses when operating against militants in cities. As a result of its potency in such combat situations, two Middle Eastern states which have great need of city fighting capabilities and whose militaries have both suffered heavily in recent years when fighting in such environments have both expressed paramount interest in acquiring the Terminator 2. These are Israel and Syria - longtime adversaries which continue to support militant proxy forces against one another and between which border clashes have been frequent.

Syria's ongoing war with islamist militants including Al Qaeda and Islamic State has led it to gain significant city fighting experience, with operations to liberate major cities such as Aleppo, Raqqa, Deir Ez Zor and even parts of Damascus leading it to appreciate the need for specialised city warfare capabilities. The Terminator 2 would be an ideal platform which would make assaults on such cities faster and less costly. Israel's armed forces on the other hand faced the first and only military defeat in its near 70 year history to the Hezbollah Lebanese militia in 2006, and when fighting in cities in particular Israeli armour sustained heavy losses. With extensive military drills continuing to take place to prepare for future operations against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, a territory formerly occupied by Israeli forces, the need for an advanced support vehicle such as the BMPT-72 would be ideal for engaging Hezbollah forces and preventing a recurrence of the defeat suffered in 2006. The support platform could prove an excellent complement to the Israeli Merkava IV main battle tank, and Israel may even attempt to reverse engineer the platform's technologies to develop its own tank support vehicle based on the Merkava's chasis. While Russia maintains strong relations with Israel, considering its close military cooperation with both Hezbollah and its ally Syria it may prove unwilling to provide Israel with such advanced systems. It remains a distinct possibility however that the world's most advanced tank support vehicle may well be fielded on opposing sides of a future Middle Eastern conflict.

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