Syria Experience Spurs Great Progress in Modernization of Russian Military
Alex GORKA | 18.02.2017 | WORLD / Russia & CIS

Syria Experience Spurs Great Progress in Modernization of Russian Military

Syria has become a testing ground for Russia weapons. The opportunity is not missed. The lessons are taken into consideration to make the military more efficient.

The Sukhoi Su-35, Su-30S, Su -30SM and Su-30 aircraft have been battle-tested and modernized. The Kh-101 and Kalibr cruise missiles launched from the Caspian Sea have delivered long-range high-precision strikes against terrorists in Syria.

But it’s not about aircraft and missiles only. According to the plans, the robots will join the inventory of the armed forces in 2017-2018 to account for 30 percent of all military technology.

So far, media have seldom mentioned that the Russian military have tested the Uran-6 remote-controlled mine clearing robotic system. Controlled at a safe distance of up to 0.6 miles, it can do the work of 20 sappers. Equipped with bulldozer blades and trawls, it moves across the dangerous terrain, searches for mines and unexploded ordnance and neutralizes them on the operator's command.

The system is survivable to mine explosions of 60kg of TNT and can clear anti-personnel mines and hazardous substances weighing from 1kg to 4kg of TNT. A 240hp diesel engine provides a mine-clearing speed of 2km/h and maximum speed of 5km/h. It offers a power to weight ratio of 32hp/t. The Uran-6 mine-clearing robot is able to operate continuously for up to five hours. It can overcome 1.2m-high obstacles and cross 1.5m-wide trenches. The maximum climbing ability of the demining robot is 20°.

Uran-6 systems were deployed by the Russian troops for the removal of explosive devices in Palmyra, Syria, in April 2016.

In recent battles, unmanned Russian robots have been used extensively, too. The Platform-M is a remote controlled robotic unit on a crawler, armed with grenade launchers and Kalashnikov rifles to strike stationary and moving targets. Equipped with optical-electronic and radio reconnaissance locators, it can also be used for intelligence gathering. Extra firepower can be mounted on the system as required.

The Argo is a remotely controlled robot designed for operations on rugged and mountainous terrain. It can also swim to make it an ideal means of fire support for Marine landing units. The Argo is armed with a single 7.62mm machinegun and a troika of RPG-26 rocket-propelled grenade launchers.

The Andromeda-D automatic remote control system can be mounted on BTR-D, BMD-2 and BMD-4 command and armored vehicles. It can also be transported by plane to support airborne forces. Armed with a 7.62-mm tank machine gun and grenade launchers, the system moves on six mechanical legs. The robot is able to analyze their environment and adapt the «walk» under the surface irregularities.

It is able to identify objects and to recognize faces. Due to its small size and weight (about three kilograms) it can penetrate under the debris resulting from earthquakes and other disasters. The machine will be able to transport medicines and other essentials. The robot can also be equipped with two-way intercom system. It has been battle-tested in Latakia, Syria, in mountainous terrain.

In late 2016, a unique unmanned robotic guardian has successfully passed Russian military trials. The «sentry» is remotely guided and controlled by the operator. The system was developed to boost the security of stationary military sites and is set to be deployed to guard the underground silos of the Strategic Missile Forces (SMF). Equipped with electro-optical and radar reconnaissance gadgets, the system can fire bullets and grenades in both automatic and semi-automatic mode at targets 400 meters away.

Last year, a new Russian unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) intended for fire support and combat reconnaissance on the battlefield was unveiled at the Army 2016 military technical forum. Designated as an unmanned combat ground vehicle, the Vikhr is based on the BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicle. It can be integrated with other types of armoured combat vehicles with a combat weight of 7-15 tons.

The Vikhr is armed with a stabilized 30 mm automatic cannon, a coaxial 7.62 mm machine gun, and six ready-to-launch 9M133M Kornet-M anti-tank guided missiles. It can use surface-to-air missiles of Igla [SA-18 Grouse] or 9K333 Verba man-portable air defence systems, as well as Shmel-M reactive flamethrowers. The system has a combat weight of 14.7 tons, a payload capacity of 4 tons, an operating range of 600 km, a maximum road speed of 60 km/h, a swimming speed of 10 km/h, and can be remote controlled to a distance of 10 km.

Russia has a tank-based reconnaissance drone for all-around scanning of the terrain. The Pterodactyl can stay in the air for a very long period as it needs no on-board power sources. It receives power from a flexible cable, flying around the tank in a radius of 50-100 meters. The new lightweight UAV is made of composite materials to ensure its durability and lightness. The portable radar and thermal night vision device will serve as the system’s eyes.

Russia is making progress in developing electronic warfare equipment. Some of the systems have gone through tests and are now playing a prominent role in Syria.

According to Izvestia, an upgraded unmanned aerial vehicle capable of sending SMS, audio and video messages is to enter service in 2017.

The new drone is based on Orlan-10 unmanned aerial vehicle, which is part of the upgraded complex of electronic warfare system RB-341V Leer-3. The system includes three drones destined to jam signals of cell towers and is equipped with special jamming devices and transmitters.

Russian military used the drone in Aleppo to inform civilians about the exit corridors and places where they could get humanitarian aid. The system was used to send ceasefire application forms to militants. It actually substituted aircraft.

The Krasukha-4 is a mobile, broadband multifunctional jamming station mounted on a wheeled platform. It guards mobile high priority assets. The primary targets are UAVs and airborne radar-guided systems. Currently it is protecting the Hmeymim airbase used by Russia from various spy planes. The system can jam AWACS at ranges of up to 250 kilometres (160 mi) and radar guided missiles.

The missiles, once jammed, are then provided a false target away from the original to ensure that the missiles are no longer a threat. Its range is enough for effectively disrupting low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites and can cause permanent damage to targeted radio-electronic devices. Ground based radars are also viable targets for the Krasukha-4.

The conflict in Syria gives Russia leeway to test its new weapons and equipment in real-world conditions. With valuable lessons learnt, the military is making rapid progress in bringing into service assets it did not have before. The experience gained in Syria has greatly boosted Russia’s military capabilities.