Inside Russia’s Robot Army: Rhetoric vs. Reality

As reported by, Russia has created a new robotic combat unit of Uran-9 unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs), which have been battle-tested in Syria, though with mixed results. It’s also developing an experimental unmanned version of its T-14 Armata tank, unmanned derivatives of the Cold War T-72 and BMP-3, and new long-range drones called Okhotnik and Altius.

Like American strategists, the Russian military agrees that a human must be in the loop with respect to semi-autonomous and autonomous combat UGVs. noted: “Russian MOD [Ministry of Defence] statements point to a US-like approach with a human firmly in the loop to make the final strike decision …[It] is said across the MOD that a robotic machine should be never fully autonomous, since it won’t be able to replicate a human soldier’s full decision-making experience, and therefore cannot match true human intellect.”

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report, the background for which appeared in their # 21 - 12 - 8 MAY 2021 edition of the UNMANNED SYSTEMS NEWS (USN).

David distributes the USN, a free, comprehensive newsletter in PDF format every week or two, as well as serial news flashes, from which this NREF news update was sourced. To be included in his distribution, simply send David a subscribe request to davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com