Is Moscow building a robot army?
Russia's military has a new armed robot tank that outperformed manned vehicles in recent exercises, Colonel Oleg Pomazuev told the Russian news site Military Review.
The tank, known as the Nerehta, can be fitted with a 12.7mm or 7.62mm machine gun or an AG-30M grenade launcher, according to Defense One.
Russia's military has been shifting toward the use of unmanned systems for some time, building up its arsenal of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs or drones) and Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs).
"After a slow start, Russia is now investing heavily in both remotely-piloted and autonomous systems. For Russia, robotic military systems potentially offer a way to help compensate for their conventional military inferiority vis-a-vis the United States military," Dr. Michael C. Horowitz, professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania, told Newsweek. "Russia is pushing the envelope with its investments in military robotics, moving beyond drones to ground vehicles such as tanks. Russian investments appear to include both semi-autonomous and autonomous systems."
"Russia's investments in UGVs, as well as those by Israel and other states, demonstrate that military robotics and autonomous systems will have increasing relevance in multiple military domains, not just in the air," Horowitz added.
In Syria, Russia has already deployed the Uran-6, a UGV that helps remove mines, roadside bombs and unexploded ordnance from areas that have been recaptured. The Russian military has also developed a much larger UGV—the Uran-9—for combat operations. The Uran-9 weighs 10 tons and is armed with a 30 mm cannon, a 7.62 mm machine gun and anti-tank rockets.
Additionally, Russia has created a semi-autonomous tank called the T-14, which is larger than the Nerehta and features an unmanned turret. The tank also has an "active protection system," automatically scanning for nearby threats and firing countermunitions if facing incoming anti-tank missiles or rounds.
The U.S. military, whose use of UAVs in combat is well-documented, is also actively developing UGVs for use in combat. The UGVs the U.S. is working on will likely be used in resupply, transport and other logistics-based roles at first.
"You have a lot of changes in mechanical engineering, in robotics. So autonomous systems, or semi-autonomous, they are already here. They have arrived. They have not proliferated in wide use, yet. They will be, very, very shortly. Within a matter of years, you will see widespread use of robots," General Mark Milley, chief of staff of the U.S. Army, said Tuesday at the U.S. Army’s CyCon event in Washington D.C.
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