Russia’s Military Robots Are on the Move
Such deliberations and policy formulations cannot come too soon for Moscow – while Russian military has been able to demonstrate, test and use certain unmanned ground technologies in conflicts like Ukraine and Syria, the race for the future robotic dominance on the world’s battlefields is in full swing. Apart from nearly-uncontested American dominance with medium and long-range combat UAVs, United States is seeking to fast track its own military robots via various exercises, testing and experimentations like the recently concluded event for the US Marines. US Army’s Rapid Equipping Force and Asymmetric Group have also been testing various defenses against small unmanned systems- like the ones that still equip Russian military. Other states like China, Iran, Turkey – even North Korea - are seeking to introduce their unmanned systems into battle, putting emphasis on developing more sophisticated and advanced techniques and procedures for use of military robotics in the battlefield. It may not be easy for Russia to match its rhetoric and political will with actual defense-industrial capability, as demonstrated by recent announcements that much-advertised Russian long-range heavy UAV project has run out of government funding, delaying introduction of combat drones into Russian military forces. Still, the recent Kubinka conference was a major step in the right direction, providing the right conditions exit that match Moscow’s ambitions with its financial and technological realities.
Samuel Bendett is a researcher at the CNA Corporation and a foreign affairs contributor to the RealClearWorld.com blog. Previously he worked at the National Defense University on emerging and disruptive technologies for government response in crisis situations. The views expressed here are his own.