Skip to main content

Russian Robots: From combat to engineering


BMR-3M

For the past ten years the Russian army has been boasting about it’s upcoming combat robots, or  unmanned ground vehicles, UGV:s, as the parlance goes in the west. The focus has been on the swanky looking combat robots bristling with weapon stations and missiles.

The idea of a remotely operated tank for attack operations isn’t exactly new in the Russian army. The Soviet Red Army studied and tested radio controlled teletanks already in the 1930’s. These were simple remotely operated versions of the existing T-18, T-26, T-38, BT-5 and BT-7 tanks. These early UGVs couldn’t share any sensor data with their controllers, who were traveling in the accompanying regular tanks. This resulted in aiming problems, that were solved by arming the teletanks mainly with flamethrowers, machine guns and demolition charges that didn’t rely on precision aiming. 


T-26 Teletank

The teletanks saw their combat debut during the Winter War in 1939-40, but the success of the units were minimal, with many tanks bogging down and loosing contact with the controllers. The performance wasn’t unusually bad by the soviet standards and so the defending Finnish forces usually didn’t spot the teletanks being used from the failures of the regular Soviet tank crews.


Uran-9 (TASS)


The present day Russian teletank, Uran-9, was field tested in Syria. The Uran-9 boasts a far more advanced weapon and sensor suite than its 1930’s counterparts. The small tankette is armed witha 30mm 2A72 mod ABM M30-M3 auto-cannon and four ATGMs or short range surface to air missiles. It’s capable of relaying camera and sensor data to the operators a few hundred meters of few kilometres away.

While the official Russian fanfare about the Uran-9 before its combat deployment was loud, the silence with any official after action reports has been deafening. The unofficial accounts claim that the tests were a complete failure. Mobility and communication problems rendered the units unusable, just like the 1930’s teletanks. The lack of any artificial intelligence or rudimentary autonomous capability beyond “drive 100m straight, then stop” style commands just isn’t enough to survive, let alone have a meaningful impact, on the modern battlefield.


Uran-6 operated by a combat engineer equipped with an exoskeleton prototype


Another member of the Uran robot family has also been tested, but with a bit less fanfare. The Uran-6 is a smallish, remotely operated engineering and mine clearing vehicle. It has been successfully used to de-mine areas in Syria and in Russia. The vast artillery firing ranges used by the Russian military have been a prefect testing ground for Uran-6 and few other similar engineering robots. The level of autonomity that proved disastrous in combat, is fully capable of doing route and area clearing operations in rear areas without endangering service personnel.


Next logical step after the concept was proven with Uran-6 seems to be to employ the similar sensor and command components to a heavier vehicle that can be used to clear routes for attacking mechanized units under enemy fire. The Russian combat engineering units should be receiving the first test batch of the new remote-operated combat engineering vehicles called IMRTK-SR and IMRTK-RT. Judging from the public information fragments available, these vehicles will be optionally manned variants of the IMR-3M and BMR-3M.


IMR-3M

These vehicles would allow the Russian mechanized formations to clear obstacles and mines in advance of an actual assault that would most likely see the new manned UBIM combat engineering vehicles as the spearhead as well as acting as command vehicles for their robot minions. The UBIM is intended to replace a multitude of existing combat engineering vehicles in the Russian service, but it remains to be seen if there will ever be a full replacement of the legacy systems.


UBIM

With new bridge and pontoon vehicles, mineclearing equipment and upgrades to pipeline and railway engineering equipment, it seems that the Russian army is still committed to the preparations of a major land war against a peer- or near peer-level opponent. 

It also highlights the experiences from Ukraine, where field fortifications and minefields have been extensively used. 

Future of warfare isn’t all about agility and cyber-capabilities, the need for brute force is also still there.


Comments

  1. Found excellent content about Disney plus on Roku on Roku and how to add and activate the
    Disney plus app with the troubleshooting steps. The steps are simple and understandable, and the procedures given are precisely correct. And If you are struggling to activate Disney plus on Roku, I suggest you read the
    blog for your future reference and you can easily activate Disney plus by yourself. I want to view the more informative and interesting posts from you.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Quick guide to identifying the Russian tanks Part 1: main platforms and T-72 variants

As most of the western nations have reduced their inventories to a few or mostly one type of main battle tank model in their active inventories, the myriad of tank platforms and distinct versions employed by the Russian armed forces may feel overwhelming. Here is a quick guide to identifying Russian MBTs. When you come across an image (or the actual thing), follow the steps to identify it properly. Family of the tank Russian Armed Forces currently operates, or at least storage, the following tank platforms/families: -           T-55 (<2000 in storage) -           T-62 (2000 in storage) -           T-64 (2000 in storage) -           T-72 (2000 active duty, 8000 in storage) -           T-80 (2000 active duty, 5000 in storage) -           T-90 (350 active duty, 600  in storage) -           T-14 (20 in field testing) So how can you identify what type of a tank are you looking at? There are two features that can be used to distingu

The Hammer and the Sickle - Potential Russian Pincer-Offensive

For the past weeks the social media has been filled with sightings of Russian troops moving towards the regions bordering Ukraine. The buildup was initially called an exercise, but in the most recent press releases Kremlin has been rather clear that the troops have been deployed there as an operational deployment, if Russia feels a need to act upon any real or imaginary escalation in Donbass. The troops will stay in the region as long as President Putin sees it necessary. Russia Serna-Class landing crafts of the Caspian flotilla The initial buildup was focused on occupied Crimea that has so far received an additional VDV airborne regiment, multiple mechanized battalion tactical groups and heavy artillery units equipped with at least the enormous 240mm 2S4 Tulpan mortars.  Additional trains and convoys have been spotted in Rostov, Krasnodar and Voronezh regions. The Russian controlled Belarusian military has also been alerted and multiple, very Russian looking units are operating in the

Death from above – Russian ad hoc top attack defenses

T-72B3 tanks with crude top armor cages The recent Russian tank upgrade programs and the ever slower moving T-14 Armata saga, have all had significant portion of the efforts put into improving the survivability of the tank and its crew. Both static and explosive reactive armor (ERA) have been upgraded and small amount of the latest T-90M and T-72B3 tanks have active protection systems that may be able to defeat most of the anti-tank missiles and slower moving HEAT shells. Environmentally friendly T-90M While these programs have put some emphasis on the armor on the top of the turret, the main focus has been in the sides and the front of the hull and turret. Additional ERA elements have been mounted on the skirts of the vehicles and slat-cage type standoff armor has been attached into the rear sides of the turrets and hulls. These modifications however have very little effect on direct top attacks by modern anti-tank missiles such as the American Javelin, that is also in the