Russia is said to be sending “Marker” robots to Ukraine to destroy western main battle tanks there. The “killer robots” are already on their way – but only four so far. The “marker” can be equipped with various weapon systems. But whether that will benefit the Russians is questionable.

The “killer robot” is said to be the Russian answer to the delivery of Leopard and Abrams main battle tanks to Ukraine. “He will learn to hit Leopards and Abrams,” announced Dmitry Rogozin, the head of the Tsar Wolves military-technical group. Four “Marker” combat robots are on their way to Ukraine, he wrote on Telegram.

“Everyone agrees that in the remaining time until the arrival of the Abrams and Leopards in Ukraine, our markers should be prepared for their destruction together with the crews,” Rogozin said. The “Marker” robots are able to recognize the western main battle tanks as soon as they are in Ukraine by means of an image and then put them out of action, according to Rogozin.

The photos of the Leopard and Abrams main battle tanks can be fed into the unmanned robots in advance, after which they can recognize them in the combat area and locate targets from a distance of about 15 kilometers. They could hit the tanks’ weakest spots with armor-piercing weapons, Rogozin said. According to the manufacturer, the robots should also be able to operate with drones.

The “killer robots” are already on their way to the Donbass, the former head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos said after a meeting with the robot manufacturer, Magnitogorsk Android Technology. They would endure a “baptism of fire” on the battlefield, he announced. Deliveries have not yet been independently confirmed.

As the Russian news agency Ria Novosti reports and photos of the “marker” show, the robot is a three-axle vehicle weighing around three tons. The robot can be equipped with various weapon systems, including a turret with machine guns and anti-tank missiles, but also a chassis that can launch drones. A cannon cannot be seen in pictures so far. Because the robot is unmanned, it is lighter and more manoeuvrable. The TASS news agency reports that the robot can shoot down drones with electromagnetic pulses.

The robots were tested at Russia’s Vostochny Cosmodrome training site before “several” units were sent to Ukraine, TASS reports. Rogozin did not speak of units, but of four pieces. However, according to military experts from Task and Purpose, there are only five “markers” in Russia. That’s why the promotion of the robots as potential tank killers could just be a PR stunt, according to the analysis. But it could be that many projects similar to the “Marker” are already in development, warns Samuel Bendett, a security researcher at the Center for New American Security.

They were first presented in 2019, and the development phase ended a year ago. According to Bendett, the “marker” was originally intended as a showcase project for artificial intelligence for intelligence services. While previous tests have been conducted in environments like forests, Bendett says those environments are nowhere near as chaotic as what the vehicle might expect in an actual combat situation in the Donbass.

Russia has already used robots in the Syrian war. According to media reports, the success was rather low, since the robot “Uran-9” was controlled, among other things, by remote control, which, however, only reached 400 meters.