Special Forces Syria

Russian robots see action in Syria and Caucasus

In the last few weeks, two separate Russian media reports featured two different types of combat robotic vehicles in action in Syria and Caucasus respectively. In Russia these remotely operated combat vehicles are know as Automated Combat Systems or Boevoi Avtomatizirovanoi Sistemi(BAS).

On 4 December, 2016, Russian media reported that five islamic radicals suspected of being behind multiple terror attacks in Russia have been killed in a special operation in Dagestan. One of those individuals was 35-year old Rustam Aselderov, the “Emir of the Islamic State(ISIS)” in the region. Aselderov was on Russia’s most wanted list due to his role in double bombings in 2013 – on a bus and at a train station in the southern Russian city of Volgograd that killed 34 civilians.

During the special operation his hideout on the outskirt of the regional capital Makhachkala, Dagestan, was surrounded by the Federal Security Service(FSB) special forces. Firefight ensued, some of which was aired on the Russian media after the operation itself has been completed. At one point in the footage a small combat robot appears to approach the house in which Alsederov and his accomplices were hiding.

Tornado Render

The robot in question is called Tornado and has been developed by the Special Mechatronic and Robotic Systems Department of the Research Institute for Special Machinery within Moscow’s Bauman State University. This particular variant of Tornado has not been observed before. It appears to be armed with two RPG-29(7P27) rocket launchers and what appears to be the Pecheneg(6P45) machine gun.

Below are Tornado’s key technical characteristics taken for the manufacturers website:

Tornado can overcome obstacles of the following dimensions:
Max. Height Threshold: 220mm
Staircases of residential and industrial buildings and structures with a slope/step height of no more than 30° or 200mm
Longitudinal gradient of no more than 35°
Slope of no more than 30°
Water of no more than 300mm deep
Snow; up to 300mm deep

Maximum speed: 5km/h
Overall dimensions in transport mode: 740x470x310mm
Weight: 45kg
Max. Payload: 20kg

Continuous operation at a temperature of no less than 10°C is 3-8 hours.
Range of operation: Max. Horizontal: 16km; Max. Vertical: 150 floors

Tornado can operate in the -40 to + 40˚C temperature range.


On 11 December 2016, a Russian state owned news channel Russia-24 aired a special report about the Russian Special Operation Forces(SSO) in Syria. The report featured a tracked Russian BAS known as Soratnik (see the main picture at the top of this page). Sorotink is made by Kalashnikov Concern and was first showcased during the Russian military exhibition Armija-2016.

According to the Kalashnikov Concern CEO, Alekey Kryvoruchko, “The system is designed for reconnaissance, fire support, patrols and protection of areas and facilities of high importance, as well as mine clearance and obstacle clearing.”.

Its turret features a camera and electro-optics box. Soratnik is armed with a heavy machine-gun NSV-12.7(6P11), and four mounts for rocket launchers of various types.

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