This is the “Zubilo”, the unmanned armored assault vehicle that Russia is going to test in Ukraine

Recently, Russian forces have been equipped with a new multi-functional unmanned platform designed specifically for military applications. Despite its sober and spartan exterior, this machine, humorously called “Chisel” or Zubilo (chisel in Spanish), is more than it seems. The true identity and capabilities of this impressive iron contraption will be revealed in time.

The Russian company JSC Remdizel, based in Tatarstan, has reported that several military units are ready to receive the Zubilo in April. This is an important development, especially since the equipment is eagerly awaited. Sappers, scouts and assault troops, many of whom perform confidential and high-security roles, are eagerly awaiting you. Although they will test the vehicle in real war operations, the goal is for user feedback to further refine subsequent models the plant will produce.

This is where the Zubilo really shines, as it moves away from the traditional roles that these types of military vehicles usually have. It is neither an APC, nor a robot, nor a typical military drone. Instead, it serves as a platform upon which additional components can be added, according to soldiers' needs. This marks a departure from old practices in which the Russian military simply modernized old armored vehicles with remote controls and developed smaller ground-based drones. With this new vehicle, troops will receive specially designed machines, which encapsulate a true “multifunctional” military drone.

Remdizel has been developing this innovative autonomous ground assault vehicle in recent months designed to function as an unmanned transportation system and it draws attention because it lacks cameras, which has been highly questioned since it is a remotely guided autonomous vehicle. It is also striking that Its main weapon, the ZU-23-2, lacks an aiming device, at least in the model presented at the exhibition. These features or, more accurately, their absence, raised questions about the Zubilo's mobility and firepower capabilities, although models coming into use in April could already incorporate these elements.

In addition to its work as an assault vehicle, it is also designed for the delivery of ammunition, the transportation of cargo, the evacuation of wounded people, or even the supply of power for radios and quadcopters.

The standard model is equipped with a 350 HP engine that can reach speeds of 100 km/h on conventional roads and handle 30-degree slopes off-road. Weighing 16 tons, mainly due to its armored exterior, the Zubilo can carry almost 3 tons of cargo. However, this capacity can vary depending on the installation of a battle module, which effectively reduces the payload, and vice versa. These decisions are often made in the middle of combat.

The thickness of Zubilo's armor can be deceptive, as can withstand a 30mm shot to its forehead. Beyond their economical and simple manufacturing process, the Zubilo is, in essence, a set of Kamaz parts. This complete integration with mass-produced items and excellent logistical support was a crucial factor for the designers.

The armor would be designed to stop a wide range of bullets and projectiles and provide protection against small arms fire, including rifles with 7.62 x 39mm and 5.56 x 45mm NATO bullets. Additionally, it is designed to resist the impact of shrapnel from explosive devices and artillery fragments.

Also may incorporate additional protection measures, such as reactive armor, designed to counter the effects of payload warheads commonly used in anti-tank missiles, or modular armor systems that can be upgraded or replaced to adapt to evolving threats.

In respect of Its main weapon, the aforementioned 23 mm ZU-23-2 anti-aircraft gun, is of Soviet design. and widely used during the Cold War era. It consists of two 23 mm caliber automatic cannons used mainly as anti-aircraft defense against planes and helicopters at low altitudes, usually up to 2.5 kilometers, as well as against unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Its compact size and mobility make it suitable for both stationary and mobile operations.

Zubilo vehicles have been designed to overcome the problem of interference in their remote operation with multiple alternative control mechanisms that do not depend on radio communication. Additionally, it is very friendly to unmanned aerial vehicles. In fact, one of its most notable adaptations is its function as a docking station for other combat drones. Thanks to their robust armor, they can carry large batteries that would be used to charge other drones using special devices. In this way, continuous operation of reconnaissance UAVs is facilitated without the need to frequently return to base to recharge.

The ZU-23-2 operates by a gas-operated blowback mechanism. The ammunition used is usually high explosive incendiary (HEI), which is fed into the barrels from a 50-round ammunition box. The weapon has a cyclic rate of fire of around 200 rounds per minute per barrel, allowing a large volume of fire to be directed at incoming targets.

The Russian vehicle bears a clear resemblance to the Estonian THeMIS, both in terms of its basic structure and its stylistic appearance. This European vehicle was presented in several countries and, in fact, the Spanish Army acquired a unit to test it in different uses.