Meet the “Zubilo”: Russia’s Futuristic Unmanned War Machine That Can Also Recharge Drones

The Russian Armed Forces have received the Kamaz Zubilo, a new unmanned multifunctional military vehicle that aims to limit human engagement in combat zones. This armored vehicle can help assault forces, transfer supplies, and recharge drones while operating autonomously and communicating via alternate means.

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Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P. Chacko is the publisher of Frontier India. He holds an M.B.A in International Business. Books: Author: Foxtrot to Arihant: The Story of Indian Navy's Submarine Arm; Co Author : Warring Navies - India and Pakistan. *views are Personal

The Russian Armed Forces recently acquired the Kamaz Zubilo (Chisel), a new multifunctional unmanned platform engineered exclusively for military applications. According to Igor Zarakhovich, the enterprise developer of the Zubilo unmanned vehicle, its primary objective is to reduce the need for human intervention in combat in perilous frontier regions.

This marks a significant accomplishment, especially because the equipment has been eagerly anticipated. Teams of Russian scouts, assaulters, and sappers, many of whom operate on missions needing extreme secrecy, look forward to it, as per the Russian media. Although the equipment will be tested in real-world operations, the factory hopes that their input will help improve the upcoming versions.

The “Zubilo” prototype was first unveiled during the “Army-2023” military-technical forum.

“Our main task is to attempt to transfer the execution of tasks associated with life-threatening risks from humans to technology. Practice will show which of these tasks can actually be successfully performed by robotic technology,” Zarakhovich told Ri Novosti during the event.

According to the maker Remdiesel ( a Kamaz company), “Zubilo” is based on the serial chassis of the “KamAZ” vehicle and is intended to support assault forces, supply ammunition, transfer freight, and wounded people, as well as recharge radios and drones.

Remdiesel JSC was founded in 1978 in Naberezhnye Chelny (Tatarstan). The company develops and manufactures families of armored wheeled vehicles with a 4×4, 6×6, and 8×8 wheel arrangement, such as the Typhoon, Tornado, and Vystrel.

Zubilo weighs 16 tons and is built on a 7.65-meter chassis with a 4×4 wheel arrangement with a ground clearance of 32 cm. The base model is powered by a 350 hp engine that can reach speeds of up to 100 km/h on conventional roads and climb 30-degree slopes off-road. The Russian 350-horsepower engine is called the “KAMAZ-610.10-350. “Zubilo” weighs 16 tons, mostly because of its armored body, and can carry nearly 3 tons of cargo. However, the cargo capacity varies depending on the fighting module installation, drastically limiting the useful load and vice versa. Such decisions are frequently made amid conflict.

Zubilo can be equipped with an anti-aircraft installation ZU-23 or a combat module BM-30-D.

During the Army-2023 show, the prototype was outfitted with a combat module and covered in a tarp. No other details about the new robotic vehicle was provided. This could be because the vehicle was still under development.

On September 25, 2023, it was announced that the vehicle was being modified and upgraded with electronics to enable autonomous operation.

The armor thickness withstands a 30-millimeter projectile hit to the frontal part. In addition to an economical and straightforward production process, “Zubilo” is essentially an assembly of parts from KAMAZ. Such full integration with serial products and excellent logistical support were decisive for the designers.

On March 11, Kamaz stated that concurrent testing of the unmanned platform ‘Zubilo’ would commence across various Russian Armed Forces military divisions in April. The automobile has been modified based on the customer’s specifications. The company stated that the vehicle’s cross-country capability has been increased, and its weight has been reduced.

An important role of any drone is to perform kamikaze missions. However, after the explosion, the destruction is not always complete. Often, it is possible to repair or dismantle the remaining parts. With “Zubilo,” such a task is entirely manageable.

Controlling the drone can be difficult, especially since a reliable remote connection is only available at a distance of roughly 10 kilometers. This distance can be significantly reduced in situations where electronic warfare is prevalent. Nonetheless, “Zubilo” drones have been engineered to address this issue using alternate control techniques that do not rely on radio communication.

Among these options is the ability to transfer signals via a mini-drone launched directly from the armored carrier drone. Laser beams, acoustic vibrations, and regular cables are all viable data transport methods. In March, the Ukrainian media reported that the Russians are flying drones with a thick fiber optical cable, making them jam-proof. They quoted official sources who had examined the remains of a drone. The Russian sources have not given specific information on the vehicle and drone communication.

Furthermore, “Zubilo” is especially useful for drones. One notable adaptation is its use as a docking station for other combat drones. Zubilo can carry enormous batteries due to their robust armor. These batteries are used to power other drones using specialized systems. This opens up the potential of putting a protected module near the frontline base, allowing reconnaissance drones to operate continuously without returning to the rear base for recharging as frequently. Consider it a little version of refueling a jet aircraft in flight. This reduces danger and liability for people “behind the tape.”


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