There has been an interesting development in Russia’s military capabilities that has received almost no coverage in the Western media. This system has been deployed to Syria and is currently a leading edge development in providing both ground support and reconnaissance for ground troops.
In September 2016, Russia military equipment manufacturer JSC 766 UPTK (766th Management Production and Processing Equipment) unveiled the Iran-9, a tracked, unmanned combat ground vehicle, that is controlled remotely. According to Army Technology, the Uran-9 robot consists of one mobile command station, a tractor for transportation of the Uran-9 as well as the Uran-9 itself. The Uran-9 is controlled by a single operator located in a command station which can be up to 3 kilometres (1.8 miles) away. It has the following dimensions:
Length – 5.12 metres (19.8 feet)
Width – 2.53 metres (8.3 feet)
Height 2.5 metres (8.2 feet)
Curb Weight – approximately 10,000 kg (22,000 pounds)
Maximum Speeds – 10 km/h (6 mph) offroad, 35 km/h (21 mph) highway
It is believed that the Uran-9 is designed to operate in pairs with one robot acting as a robot scout and the other providing fire support. According to Rosoboronexport, the Uran-9 combat robot will eventually be promoted for sale to the international market.
Here is a video showing the Uran-9 in action:
The Iran-9 system was deployed to Syria in May 2018 and is currently a leading edge development in providing both ground support and reconnaissance for ground troops. According to a Russian analysis of the Iran-9 as reported by Defense Blog, there have been some operating issues with robot tank; the robot was unable to maintain full contact with the control station, largely because the radio controls perform poorly in urban areas where buildings block radio signals. As well, there were stability issues with the 2A72 automatic cannon and the electro-optic stations that allow the operator to identify targets. That said, the Uran-9 is still in its infancy and if Russia’s military uses its recent operational failures to improve their robot tank, NATO forces will certainly find the Uran-9 to be a real threat. As well as its potential in combat situations outside of Russia, given the importance of tanks to the Soviet Union during the Second World War, this tank will play an important role in Russia’s ability to protect itself during an attack.