Russia to include Uran-9 reconnaissance and combat robots in the Zapad-2021 exercises

For the first time, Russia will be deploying combat robots of the Uran-9 family in the Exercise Zapad-2021 exercises. The robots will be used for the protection and defense of the rear and special facilities and the fight against drones. Uran-9 robots will detect the enemy using optoelectronic systems and radars, destroy them with airborne weapons, or transmit information to other units. Based on the results of the manoeuvres, a final decision will be made on deploying these robots in the combat formations.

Guard and shootdown

The specific task of these robots will be to guard warehouses, gas stations, communication centers, command posts, and other facilities. The second task for “Uranov” will be the fight against drones. They will detect the drones and either shoot them down or give target designation to air defense systems.

Exercise Zapad-2021 will be an important test for the Uran-9 combat systems. In August, these robots have been tested in a special exercise at the Mulino training ground in the Nizhny Novgorod region. It tested the readiness of the Russian troops for joint strategic manoeuvres Exercise Zapad-2021. 

The Uran Robot Family

Robots of the Uran family are the latest Russian developments. Sapper “Uran-6” and firefighter “Uran-14” are already serving in the army. The Uran 6 mine-clearing robots were used to clear the area after the fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh, and the military regularly dispatches the Uran-14 to where fires break out.

The prototypes of Uran-9 ground combat systems entered the army two years ago. The novelty was presented to the general public at the parade on May 9, 2019. Later, these combat vehicles were tested in Syria, leading to serial production.

In April of this year, the chief of the General Staff of the Ground Forces, Vasily Tonkoshkurov, announced that an experimental unit had been formed on the basis of one of the department’s research centers. It included five complexes – a total of 20 combat vehicles. Over the past months, the military has been practising using robots in the combat formations of troops in the offence and defense. During the Army-2021 forum held in August, the Ministry of Defense signed a contract to purchase a batch of these robots. 

The project’s funding began in 2015, and robots have been created for land, air, and underwater uses. 

The Configuration

The Uran-9 complex consists of four tracked combat vehicles with remote control, a command post, and transport for their delivery.

The small robot weighs 10–12 tons, depending on the load. The performance characteristics of the robots were not disclosed. The vehicle is equipped with Attack anti-tank guided missiles, a Shmel-M jet flamethrower, a 2A72 30-mm automatic cannon, and a 7.62-mm machine gun.

The operator can remotely control the robot from several hundred meters behind it, including in cover. He can monitor the situation with the help of several cameras installed on the machine.

Uran-9 is a modular design and can carry a whole range of light weapons. It even has anti-tank and anti-aircraft capabilities. Uran-9 uses weapons at the discretion of the operator. It is not known if the robots have complete autonomy.

Exercises Zapad-2021

The strategic exercises Zapad-2021 will be held from 10 to September 16 at training ranges in Russia and Belarus. These manoeuvres are carried out every four years. Almost all military units of the armed forces of Belarus and a large grouping of the Russian Western Military District are involved in them, including the forces of the Baltic Fleet, airborne forces, and special forces.

This year, one of the main tasks in the exercises is the fight against irregular formations. Due to the limitations of international treaties, the Zapad-2021 exercises are inferior in scale to those held in the Central and Eastern military districts. In 2017, 12.7 thousand military personnel, up to 680 weapons and military equipment units, about 70 aircraft and helicopters, and ten ships took part in them.

The theatre level exercise will see the participation of Mongolia, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Serbia, Russia, India, and Belarus. Pakistan, China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Uzbekistan, and Sri Lanka have been invited as observers. A 200 strong Indian Army contingent is participating in the exercise.

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