In May 2018, the Russian military revealed it had combat-tested its Uran-9 robot tank in Syria. The diminutive remote-control tank is noted for its formidable gun and missile armament. However, robots being developed at present are not ready for combat roles.
Russian UGVs in Syria
Defense Blog reported that Senior Research Officer Andrei Anisimov told a conference at the Kuznetsov Naval Academy in St. Petersburg that the Uran-9’s performance in Syria revealed that “modern Russian combat Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs) are not able to perform the assigned tasks in the classical types of combat operations.” He concluded it would be ten to fifteen more years before UGVs were ready for such complex tasks.
Unveiled in September 2016 and deployed to Syria in May 2018, the Uran-9 is an unmanned tank that was supposed to be capable of operating up to 1.8 miles away from its controller. But in Syria, it could only be operated from about 984 to 1,640 feet from its operators around high-rise buildings, the Defence Blog reported, citing reports from the 10th all-Russian scientific conference “Actual problems of protection and security” in St. Petersburg.
The robot tank’s controller also randomly lost control of it 17 times for up to one minute and two times for up to an hour and a half, Defence Blog reported.
The Uran-9 is heavily armed with four 9M120-1 Ataka anti-tank guided missile launchers, six 93 millimeter-caliber rocket-propelled Shmel-M reactive flamethrowers, one 30-millimeter 2A72 automatic cannon, and one 7.62-millimeter coaxial machine gun.
“I see a greater robotization, in fact, future warfare will involve operators and machines, not soldiers shooting at each other on the battlefield,” Lieutenant-General Andrey Grigoriev, head of the Advanced Research Foundation (ARF) had said last year. “The soldier would gradually turn into an operator and be removed from the battlefield.”
In response rapid development of killer drones by Russia and China, Pentagon officials have planned to develop and deploy Automated killer machines in US military within ten years. U.S. Army planning for its Bradley fighting vehicle replacement to be “optionally-manned.