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September 15, 2021

Zapad military drills showcase Russian unmanned robots’ battlefield breakthrough

Featuring Samuel Bendett

Source: Stars and Stripes

Journalist Phillip Walter Wellman

Russia has employed unmanned ground vehicles in combat formations for the first time, a significant step in the country’s quest to develop an effective all-robot military unit, experts say.

Two remote-controlled vehicles were deployed during Russia’s weeklong Zapad joint military exercises with Belarus, which are set to conclude Thursday. Western leaders have viewed the exercises with concern because of their sheer size and proximity to NATO’s eastern flank. Both armored vehicles were used for fire support and reconnaissance work, Russia’s Defense Ministry said in a statement released Monday.

The Uran-9, a tracked vehicle equipped with a 30 mm autocannon, a machine gun, anti-tank missiles and a flamethrower, destroyed mock enemy targets over 3 miles away, the statement said.

Meanwhile, the smaller Nerekhta unmanned ground vehicle, or UGV, fired at targets with a mounted machine gun and a grenade launcher in addition to performing tasks that would be dangerous for troops, such as delivering ammunition and equipment in combat.

Read the full story and more from Stars and Stripes.


  • Samuel Bendett

    Adjunct Senior Fellow, Technology and National Security Program

    Samuel Bendett is an Adviser with CNA Strategy, Policy, Plans and Programs Center (SP3), where he is a member of the Russia Studies Program. His work involves research on the ...