Despite Ukraine's war fears, Russia has unveiled its first specialized unit of robotic tanks that could be sent over to Ukrainian borders.

The Russian Uran-9 Robotic Tanks

The Uran-9 Russian robotic tanks are semi-autonomous unmanned tanks that can be piloted by specialized trained soldiers that will form military units.

This week, the tanks were inspected at the 766th Production and Technological Enterprise by Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu.

Shoigu says that they expect to continue robotic range, which is already in demand in today's military.

Each robotic tank is armed with 30mm automatic gun turrets, flamethrowers, and anti-tank missiles.

The Uran-9 is the latest assault-type model in the Uran series. Uran-6 possesses mine-sweeping capabilities, while the Uran-14s are intended for firefighting.

The tanks have reportedly been used before during the Syrian war but were plagued by various issues.

(Photo: Dmitriy Fomin from Moscow, Russia / Wikimedia Commons)
Rehearsal of parade in Moscow 2018

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Russian Robotic Tanks in Syria

Uran-9 was first used in combat last year in Syria, but reports of multiple issues show that the tests didn't go as planned.

The National Interest reports that the semi-autonomous tanks ran into multiple problems during its stint in Syria. The tank's sensors performed worse than advertised, with their signals getting blocked by nearby buildings.

After just a month of combat, the Kremlin admitted that Uran-9 didn't work as intended and wasn't prepared for front-line use.

Andrei Anisimov, senior research officer, says at a conference that the unmanned ground vehicles could not perform their tasks in the classical combat operation type.

Analysts from BAE Systems, UK's defense firm, described the 12-ton, gun and rocket-armed semi-autonomous vehicles as "unreliable."

According to BAE Systems, the Uran-9's sensors and weapons guiding systems were virtually useless as the robotic tank was moving due to its lack of stabilization. The defense firm adds that as commands were issued, Uran-9 showed significant delay.

The Uran-9 was virtually susceptible to radio jamming, which would result in loss of communication, and in turn, control.

The 12-ton unmanned ground vehicle showed limited ability to identify, detect, and engage enemy forces without the need for manual human intervention.

Overall, the poor performance of Russia's Uran-9 is a sign that autonomous ground warfare is a longshot from perfection and fails to live up to the hype.

The Uran-9 Today

Russia's Defense ministry adds that the first units with "strike robots" will be set within the Russian Army to operate 5 Uran-9 robotic systems or 20 UGVs

Vladimir Dmitriev, General Director of Kalashnikov Concern, says that the shortcomings identified during the Syria tests have been addressed. Engineers have rectified the issues on control, unsatisfactory intelligence, surveillance malfunctions, and reduced mobility.

Russia soon announced that the experimental units had been set up in the MoD scientific research center to train personal that will operate Uran-9 strike vehicles in military units.

The Uran-9 is also slated to protect infantry from enemy fire and can return fire to infantry, tank units, and armored vehicles.

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