There is a growing trend in the world’s military to employ robots instead of human soldiers. The thinking is that they are more reliable and effective. It seems that the future of warfare could involve robots fighting alongside human soldiers, or even eventually replacing them. One area that may see the introduction of robots into warfare is in tanks.
Unmanned robotic tanks are being developed in Russia with plans for them to be sold and exported internationally to military forces. The robotic vehicles are expected to provide support for integrated security projects, counter-terrorism units, and fire support for reconnaissance units.
Russian developers of the Uran-9 are ahead of western countries. The U.S. has been working on its own equivalent unmanned ground vehicles for the past twenty years. It is possible that while the Uran-9’s current role is mainly a supportive one, the advancement of this type of robotic technology may ultimately see the replacement of existing human-operated battle tanks, such as the T-14 Armata and M1A2 Abrams.
Rosoboronexports is the Russian state-owned export company responsible for the development and implementation of the marketing and future promotions of the Uran-9. Boris Simakin, who is the head of Rosobornexport’s Analysis and Long-term Planning Department, said:
“Russian developers possess all of the required competencies to create modern military robotics that will be in demand on the international market. This is a fast-growing segment of the arms market.”
The company also made a statement in which they outlined some of supportive roles the unmanned vehicles may provide: “The Uran-9 will be particularly useful during local military and counter-terror operations, including those in cities. Its use will significantly reduce personnel casualties.”
The development of the Uran-9 tank system is proof of the progress that has been made in the advancement of artificial intelligence in recent years. The Uran-9 not only includes identity and tracking equipment, a laser warning system and target detection; it also comes fully armed with M120 Ataka anti-tank guided missiles, which are capable of reaching ranges up to 8,000 metres, a 2A72 300mm automatic cannon and a machine gun.
The tanks form part of a fully equipped, complete system that could comfortably function alongside an infantry unit. The Uran-9 system also includes a mobile command post and a truck to carry two robotic fire-support vehicles.
Although the Uran-9 is being developed in Russia, it has not yet been confirmed whether, on completion and roll out, the Russian military will be utilising these artificially intelligent systems within their own forces.