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Warfare history’s first: Ukrainian combat robot adjusted via UAV engages Russian positions

Ukraine’s drone forces made history by deploying an unmanned, robotic ground vehicle equipped with a machine gun which was reportedly adjusted via air drone to eliminate Russian personnel.
Ironclad unmanned combat ground vehicle equipped with a machine gun. Credit: Mykhailo Fedorov

In what is believed to be the first case of its kind in history, a Ukrainian combat drone unit successfully deployed a remotely-controlled ground robotic platform equipped with a machine gun to destroy enemy positions, according to the Army of Drones Telegram channel.

Significant innovations in drone warfare mark the Russo-Ukrainian war. Unmanned vehicles, both large and small and operating across air, land, and sea, are central to the conflict, with technology rapidly evolving to meet the demands of the war.

The Kara Nebesna (Heavenly Punishment) strike drone unit of the National Guard’s 4th Brigade “Rubizh” reportedly used aerial drones to locate targets, then a ground drone equipped with a machine gun turret was used to strike the Russian positions.

This unprecedented method of coordination between the air and ground drone crews during an operation reportedly led to the elimination of Russian personnel.

“Recently, for the first time in history, there was an operation in which the BpAK (uncrewed aerial systems, – Ed.) fighters adjusted [the fire of] an unmanned ground drone with a turret from the sky as it was destroying Russian personnel. This has never happened before in the history of military affairs – it’s extremely cool,” said Andrii Otchenash, the Kara Nebesna commander.

The source did not share any footage or additional details about the engagement, including the specific frontline sector where it occurred.

Both Ukrainian and Russian forces not only employ and test new experimental types of uncrewed vehicles in a combat environment, but also develop new drone warfare tactics and new ways to use drones.

For example, drone operators have innovated a quadcopter drone ramming tactic to disable enemy drones in midair.

Ground drones are used to lay mines, evacuate the wounded, and act as movable machine-gun nests.

During his press conference on 19 December, President Zelenskyy promised that Ukraine would manufacture one million drones in 2024. However, Zelenskyy was referring specifically to FPV drones, and the government says the number will be even higher.

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