The Future Of Robotic Warfare Part Two
Moscow, April 11, 2008
There will come a time when robots will become the best value for the money for the conduct of tactical operations in war.
When this happens, a couple of battalions will be able to destroy an enemy tank division. Each battalion will consist of a control company and four companies with 15 to 20 vehicles carrying from 10 to 15 robots each. Each robot will be armed with two guided missiles and a machine gun.
Equipped with a total of 1,200-2,400 robots controlled by 200 to 300 operators from a distance of several miles, these two battalions will be able to inflict heavy losses on enemy divisions, and destroy most of their tanks and infantry combat vehicles.
There is no doubt that a tank battle against these machines will be similar to the feats of Zinovy Kolobanov or Otto Karius -- Soviet and German tank aces of World War II.
Heavy armored vehicles with powerful artillery, equipped with active protection and interference systems will destroy robots practically without armor and protection systems (produced for less money) as in the testing grounds. But...
Even if one combat vehicle costs these future battalions 20 robots, a total of 1,200-2,400 robots will be exchanged for 60-120 tanks and infantry combat vehicles, with hundreds of killed and wounded crew members.
Human losses of robotized battalions will be minimal unless an artillery regiment of the tank division destroys the control company. But it is likely to lose the artillery duel to the artillery division of the robotized enemy, which will be actively using pilot-less aircraft to adjust its fire.
As a result, to cover the losses one side will have to call up several people and spend considerable resources on the production of more robots, while the other side will have to replace several hundred servicemen and spend a somewhat smaller sum on new combat vehicles.
The latter will be very well protected, heavily equipped with arms and mobile but nonetheless vulnerable -- with the inevitable loss of human lives.
The situation in the air may be similar. Enemy aircraft will be destroyed not by fighters, but by pilot-less flying vehicles controlled from flying command posts.
Each fighter can destroy five or six such vehicles, but at some point there will be no missiles left and it will be downed by the seventh, or by another fighter, which will be able to approach it unnoticed under the cover of pilot-less flying vehicles.
The situation under water is likely to be identical. Nuclear-powered submarines with a price tag of a billion dollars or more will encounter the massive use of relatively compact underwater robots capable of carrying torpedoes.
The latter will have inferior sonar systems, but they will come in large numbers. As a result, warfare will become a race of life against hardware. Its outcome is obvious: It is much easier to mourn robots than people. Will our army start updating its equipment in time? A delay may be more dangerous than it was in 1941.
(Ilya Kramnik is a military commentator for the RIA Novosti news agency. This article is reprinted by permission of the RIA Novosti news agency. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of the RIA Novosti news agency.)
(United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.)
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