15 Mar 2018 19:49

Shoigu announces plans to begin serial production of combat robots in 2018

MOSCOW. March 15 (Interfax) - Combat robots for the Russian Armed Forces could enter serial production as early as this year, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said at a forum, entitled "Russia: the land of opportunities," on Thursday.

An attendee asked Shpogi whether it was possible for the army soldier's role to change in the near future where hostilities would be conducted with remote-controlled equipment and the human role reduced to that of a pilot and coordinator.

"Why near future? This is already a reality and being realized quite energetically," Shoigu said.

Whereas a few years ago the army had 160 unmanned aerial vehicles, today the number is almost 1,800, he said.

"We have begun creating combat robots. Their state and army tests are nearing completion. And I hope we will begin [their] serial production as early as this year," Shoigu said.

Work to create mine-clearing robotics has already been completed, he said.

"Today such robots are already in serial production... Our work has not stopped for a single day or hour," Shoigu said.

The Russian army will receive combat robots, the Defense Ministry's main directorate for scientific research said earlier. Troops will receive the Nerekhta robotic system, the directorate's head of innovative research Col. Oleg Pomazuyev told Interfax.

Last December Nerekhta was tested under winter conditions at the 467th inter-service training center in the Western Military District. According to the Defense Ministry, the tests aimed to determine "the combat robot's place in the Ground Forces structure in a combined-arms battle."

The same month the Russian Ground Forces' command were shown the Kungas multirole robotic system for use in ground operations.

The Russian military are also testing the Uran-9 robot. In the spring of 2017, Zvezda television channel reported that the robot's tests were in the final stages.

Yet another combat robot, Soratnik, was designed by Kalashnikov Concern. The robot will not go into serial production but its design solutions could be used to create other robots, the company said.

Russia also announced the creation of the Argo and Platforma-M robots. The latter was used by Pacific Fleet military police during a counter-terrorism exercise in 2016.

Nerekhta was designed by Degtyarev Plant jointly with the Prospective Research Foundation. Three modules were developed for the combat robot: combat, artillery reconnaissance, and transport, the plant told Interfax. The combat module, in various variants, is armed with a 12.7mm Kord machine gun or a 7.62mm Kalashnikov tank machinegun. The module can also be further fitted with an AG-30M automatic grenade launcher. There are also efforts to design a heavily-armed variant, including with anti-tank missiles.

Soratnik can be used as a machine for fire support, reconnaissance, ammunition and fuel supply, and evacuating the injured. It has a maximum weight of seven tonnes and maximum speed of 40 kilometers per hour. When remotely controlled and in direct radio-visibility, the machine operates within a radius of up to ten kilometers. The robot's combat module includes various types of weapon, in particular 7.62mm and 12.7mm machineguns, 30mm grenade launcher of the AG-17A type, and a 40mm automatic grenade launcher.

Uran-9 is being developed by JSC 766 UPTK as a reconnaissance, fire-support and anti-tank robotic system. Uran-9 can destroy targets within up to 5,000 meters in daytime and 3,000 meters at night. The 12-tonne system is armed with a 30mm 2A72 automatic cannon, 7.62mm machinegun, Shmel-M rocket flamethrowers, and the Ataka anti-tank missile system.