Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
Russia Just Showed Off Its New Robot Tank — And Confirmed It Was On The Ground In Syria
Russia has been on the forefront of building unmanned ground vehicles and last week the Russian Defense Ministry confirmed that their armed drone tank Uran-9 was tested in Syria.
The Uran-9 is powerfully armed with anti-tank missiles, an automatic cannon, and a machine gun. It can also be reconfigured to carry different weapons like surface-to-air missiles. Additionally, the unmanned vehicle is equipped with advanced optics and targeting systems including a laser warning system and thermal imaging.
While the deployment of the Uran-6, a minesweeping drone, in Syria has been widely reported on, little has been said publicly about the Uran-9, and military observers and analysts have yet to see it in Syria.
“In reality, [the] Uran-9 tests in Syria should have garnered major attention from all major Russian news outlets, given how proud Russian [sic] are of their remote-controlled tank,” said Samuel Bendett, a research analyst specializing in Russian unmanned systems at the Center for Naval Analyses. “Still, such tests may have taken place in secret.”
But the official statement is a clear indication of its use overseas.
The Uran-9 on display during a Victory Day parade in Red Square on May 9, 2018Russian Presidential Press And Information Office
RIA Novosti, a state-run news agency, quoted the Defense Ministry as stating, “The robotic complexes [sic] Uran-6 designed for mine clearance were well proven in Syria, as well as Uran-9, a multifunctional reconnaissance and fire support unit on the battlefield.”
It remains unclear if the Uran-9 saw combat and where in Syria it was deployed, but the area has served as a proving ground for advanced Russian weapons.
Since its Syrian intervention in 2015, the resurgent Russian military has battle tested an arsenal of new weapons including the Su-57 stealth fighter jet, the T-90 battle tank, ship-launched cruise missiles and air defense systems.
“As we helped the brotherly Syrian people, we tested over 200 new types of weapons,” said Vladimir Shamanov, the head of Russian parliament’s Defense Committee and a retired military officer.
While unmanned aerial vehicles have been widely deployed in conflicts around the world, unmanned ground vehicles remain largely untested and the Uran-9 marks a significant step. For instance, the United States, China and several other nations have developed drone tanks, but are still evaluating potential uses and how to overcome the platform’s shortcomings.
With any drone, one of the primary goals is to minimize the risk of injury to service members. But unlike aerial drones—which can easily receive radio and communication signals from its controllers—a ground drone’s signal is often blocked by buildings, hills, or other physical barriers which severely limit its range. This requires an individual to be fairly close to operate the vehicle, exposing them to danger.
Furthermore, it is unclear how these systems will perform in hotly contested areas with heavy electronic warfare that could jam or hijack a controller’s system. In Syria, reports have emerged that Russian jamming has affected the GPS systems of small U.S. surveillance drones, disrupting their operations.
In the case of the Uran-9, it is remotely controlled by an individual from a mobile vehicle that must remain within 1.8 miles. The automatic turret is able to detect and acquire targets, but the ultimate decision to fire rests with the controller.
An Uran-9 unmanned ground combat vehicle during Day of Advanced Technologies of Law Enforcement in 2017Vitaly Kuzmin
This philosophy closely matches the U.S. military’s approach to lethal unmanned systems, which it has dubbed “centaur warfighting” after the half-man, half-horse creature from Greek mythology. The strategy calls for close human control of autonomous weapons in a relationship that enhances an individual’s abilities rather than outright replaces them.
Just as aerial drones have changed modern combat, unmanned ground vehicles will transform how wars are fought on the ground.
Autonomous and semi-autonomous ground vehicles hold significant possibilities for the future of warfare. In conjunction with manned tanks they can provide additional firepower, be deployed in more dangerous areas, fire at enemies or dismantle defenses. Finally, all of this can be done while their operators remain at a safer distance.
According to Russian defense officials, the Uran-9 can provide reconnaissance while navigating rugged or hostile terrain. It can also beam images back on an adversary’s location or even attack a fortified position while it acts as a scout.
As the Uran-9 has shown, technologically the age of drone tanks has arrived, it is only a question of how militaries will use them. So far Russia has been the earliest adopter, and its next moves could have significant implications for other countries and future battle concepts.
This story originally appeared on The National Interest
Read more from The National Interest:
- 5 Worst Guns Ever Made
- The World’s Most Secretive Nuclear Weapons Program
- The Fatal Flaw That Could Take Down an F-22 or F-35
It has been a deadly year for Green Berets, with every active-duty Special Forces Group losing a valued soldier in Afghanistan or Syria.
A total of 12 members of the Army special operations forces community have died in 2019, according to U.S. Army Special Operations Command. All but one of those soldiers were killed in combat.
In Afghanistan, Army special operators account for 10 of the 17 U.S. troops killed so far this year. Eight of the fallen were Green Berets. Of the other two soldiers, one was attached to the 10th Special Forces Group and the other was a Ranger.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Documents from the Pentagon show that "far more taxpayer funds" were spent by the U.S. military on overnight stays at a Trump resort in Scotland than previously known, two Democratic lawmakers said on Wednesday, as they demanded more evidence from the Defense Department as part of their investigation.
In a letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper, the heads of the House of Representatives Oversight Committee and one of it subcommittees said that while initial reports indicated that only one U.S. military crew had stayed at President Donald Trump's Turnberry resort southeast of Glasgow, the Pentagon had now turned over data indicating "more than three dozen separate stays" since Trump moved into the White House.
QUANTICO, Va. -- Marines who spend much of their day lifting hefty ammunition or moving pallets full of gear could soon get a helping hand.
The Marine Corps is close to signing a deal to test an exoskeleton prototype that can help a single person move as much as several leathernecks combined.
The Air Force is working on a ‘flying car’ to replace the V-22 Osprey — and it could take flight sooner than you think
'Agility Prime' sounds like a revolutionary new video streaming service, or a parkour-themed workout regimen, or Transformers-inspired niche porno venture.
But no, it's the name of the Air Force's nascent effort to replace the V-22 Osprey with a militarized flying car — and it's set to take off sooner than you think.
Task & Purpose is looking for a dynamic social media editor to join our team.
Our ideal candidate is an enthusiastic self-starter who can handle a variety of tasks without breaking a sweat. He or she will own our brand's social coverage while working full-time alongside our team of journalists and video producers, posting to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (feed, stories, and IGTV), YouTube, and elsewhere.