The Ukrainians Are Turning Captured T-62 Tanks Into Heavily Armored Support Vehicles

May 29, 2023

Algerian BMPT-62s.

When the Russian army first began running low on modern tanks, just a few months into its wider war on Ukraine, it pulled out of storage hundreds of 1960s-vintage T-62s—and deployed them with reserve battalions fighting in southern Ukraine.

Deployed piecemeal by panicky crews, these aging, four-person tanks with their 115-millimeter main guns and crude optics did next to nothing to slow the Ukrainians when they counterattacked in the south late last summer.

But the 41-ton tanks did prove useful … to the Ukrainians. They’ve popped the turrets off some of the 50 or so intact T-62s they’ve captured—and used the hulls for at least two new vehicle types.

First, a new kind of armored recovery vehicle. And now, a new support vehicle. A photo that circulated online earlier this month depicts one of these so-called “BMPT-62s” under construction.

The BMPT-62 combines a T-62’s 33-ton hull—with its 580-horsepower diesel engine and 100 millimeters of armor—with the turret and 30-millimeter autocannon of a BMP-2 fighting vehicle. The Algerian army operates a similar T-62-based BMPT.

The BMPT-62 isn’t just an expedient—a way for Ukrainian forces to make good use of captured T-62s and excess BMP-2 turrets. It actually fits a special niche.

A BMP-2 is an infantry fighting vehicle. At 16 tons, it’s fairly light and thinly-protected. But what it lacks in protection, it makes up for in volume. A BMP-2 has a crew of three and space for a squad-minus of seven infantry. The idea is for the IFV crew to haul its infantry into battle, drop them off then support them with cannon fire.

A BMPT-62 by contrast restores the protection but trades away the space. It can lend its firepower to the infantry, but can’t lend them a ride. It’s not for no reason that the Russian army, the main user of BMPTs, tends to deploy the vehicles for close urban fighting, where protection trumps mobility.

There are other vehicles in this class, including the T-72-based BMPT-72—a.k.a., the BMPT Terminator. The Russian army sent all nine or 10 of its Terminators to Ukraine and lost at least one of them. Whether the Ukrainians’ BMPT-62s fare better could come down to how they use them.

A BMPT like any armored vehicle works best in a combined-arms team mixing tanks, fighting vehicles and infantry. The fighting vehicles protect the infantry, who protect the tanks, which in turn support the infantry and fighting vehicles. A BMPT adds another link in this chain of mutual support. Alone, however, it’s vulnerable to attacks by enemy tanks and enemy infantry.

The Russians’ consistent failure to practice combined arms is a main reason their old T-62s never stood a chance against more disciplined Ukrainian troops. With the right support, the BMPTs the Ukrainians made out of those ill-fated T-62s might actually make a difference on the battlefield.

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David Axe


  1. I got kind of curious about what military tanks are the world’s biggest, and you guys might be amused to see the first one mentioned in this video. The “BM OPLOT M,” is a rugged Ukrainian tank, which I saw rolling over extremely difficult debris, and apparently taking no damage from dropping down on hard concrete.

    I was confused about why the Indians put what looks like a steam locomotive’s “cow catcher” on the front of their “Arjun” tank. Perhaps to break down dense plant growth, though I don’t know of anything less than a thickened tree trunk, which a tank can’t simply run over. I certainly didn’t see them actually using the awkward looking thing at the dusty arena during the tank’s public display there.

    The South Koreans developed the “K2 Black Panther” with a secretive list of apparently classified materials/techniques. The video says it’s all from South Korea’s own resources, though the main gun is admitted in by the narrator as being a German “Rheinmetal.” Still, in following a similar example, I’m sure Ukraine can manufacture many of their vehicles or weapons with purely Ukrainian resources and skilled, patriotic engineers.

    My last mention is the russian “T-14 Armada,” around 6:20 in the middle of the video’s timeline. The video says it has an unmanned turret, so I assume it only needs one person to operate it, though I expect the russians’ display will “exaggerate” performance. Since it was at the time of the 4 year old video, only a prototype, I would have expected (under an efficient system) the russians to have replaced a quarter to a half of their older tanks. But of course, they hinder themselves by their corruption, because clearly there aren’t a lot of the T-14 Armadas being encountered, either in the field, OR in propagandist parades. lol 😂

    • I will also add that the Wikipedia page of the “T-14 Armata” says, “During the 2015 [Moscow Victory Day] rehearsals, one of the [T-14] tanks suddenly stopped moving, and after attempts to tow it failed, it moved away under its own power after about 15 minutes.”

      lol 😂

      • Soviet-era technology couple with deep-seated corruption has never produced sound products. 😁

    • If the T-14 is anything like their super-duper, hyper-diaper Kinzhals, the crews of those tanks are already fucked.

  2. I don’t know how reliable this is, but this link is from a discussion thread claiming to show the interior of a russian T-14 armata tank. I admit I was hoping to find where it’s “toilet” was located, and if a well-placed Ukrainian shot could penetrate to it. If so, that would be a most embarrassing AND smelly weakness for russia. I bet their propagandists would all shit their pants in sympathetic “solidarity” of their tank crews. LMAO 😂

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