TechUkraine's innovative use of robots to deploy mines virtually undetected, reshaping battlefield tactics

Ukraine's innovative use of robots to deploy mines virtually undetected, reshaping battlefield tactics

A Ukrainian remote-controlled rover with an "explosive sleigh ride" in the form of TM-62 anti-tank mines.
A Ukrainian remote-controlled rover with an "explosive sleigh ride" in the form of TM-62 anti-tank mines.
Images source: © X (formerly Twitter) | PS01

6:06 PM EST, January 27, 2024

Minefields can delay an enemy's attack or even force them to choose a different path. In Ukraine, the Russians have repeatedly witnessed the effectiveness of mines, including under Wuhledar, where in 2022, they suffered heavy losses. The Ukrainians also experienced this during their unsuccessful summer offensive in Zaporizhia in 2023.

Mines can be positioned ahead of time or during battles using multiple rocket launchers or specialized systems. PTM-3 mines used in M-30 Smiercz, BM-27 Uragan, or BM-21 Grad systems are examples, as are AT2 SCATMIN mines in M270 MLRS systems. These setups allow, for instance, an area cleared by enemy sappers or specialized vehicles to be re-mined in between assaults.

This is a costly process and practically impossible using standard mines like TM-62. However, Ukrainians have innovated a method to lay these mines virtually under the noses of the Russians with minimal risk to sappers. This is achieved using remotely controlled robots or drones, which initially could only place one or a few mines simultaneously.

A video shows a rover that can lay up to 12 TM-62 mines during a single expedition. This feat was accomplished simply by creating an "explosive sled" of 12 mines connected by a string, then towing them to a location where Russian vehicles had been spotted and leaving them behind.

The TM-62 mines, towed by the remotely controlled rover, are an anti-tank design from the USSR era, each loaded with 7 kg (around 15 pounds) of TNT. They're triggered by the MWCz-62 pressure fuse, which activates under pressure from 200 kg to 500 kg (440 - 1102 pounds). This means only vehicles, ranging from cars to BMP family infantry fighting vehicles, BTR family armored personnel carriers, MT-LB, or tanks, are at risk.

In the case of tanks, depending on the location of the explosion, it could set off the ammunition magazine. For tanks of the T-72 family, this is located in the hull. Alternatively, the explosion could tear off the track. An immobilized tank then becomes an easy target for artillery or drones and is typically quickly abandoned by its crew.

Interestingly, despite not being buried, mines placed by a robot can still be difficult to spot in undergrowth, grass, or simply muddy terrain. Interestingly, videos are circulating online showing instances of Russian tank crews or armored vehicles driving over these mines placed on asphalt roads.

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