Which Russian Weapons Systems Have Built-in AI?

The Vityaz, first unveiled in 2013 and introduced into service with the Russian military in late 2019, is one of the Russian weapons systems that have built-in AI capabilities.

Russia’s minister of industry confirmed to Sputnik on Tuesday that an S-350 Vityaz missile system operating in “automatic mode” had been successfully used in the ongoing Russia-NATO proxy war in Ukraine. How has Russia incorporated AI in its military equipment? What is it used for? And which specific systems have it? Sputnik explores.

“Just recently…for the first time in the world, the Vityaz performed the automated detection, tracking and destruction of Ukrainian air targets in combat conditions,” Industry Minister Denis Manturov told Sputnik on Tuesday in a wide-ranging interview.

The minister’s remarks were corroborated in a Sputnik report in May, with an informed source telling the news agency that “several” Ukrainian warplanes and drones had been shot down by a Vityaz, and that the “detection, tracking and destruction” were carried out in fully automatic mode.

First unveiled in 2013 and introduced into service with the Russian military in late 2019, the S-350 is a hybrid upgrade of the S-300 featuring an increased ammunition load, improved electronic countermeasures, an upgraded radar complex, and a new targeting computer allowing it to quickly find targets and survey the battlespace, and integrate with other complexes to increase the density of anti-aircraft firepower. The S-350 has a reported maximum range of up to 120 km, depending on missile, and can engage as many as 16 aerodynamic targets or 12 ballistic ones at altitudes up to 30 km simultaneously.

Detailed information about the computer hardware used by the S-350 is difficult to come by, given the secrecy around most Russian military computing applications. What is known is that the computer is able to independently determine which type of missile would be most effective for use against a particular target. Furthermore, having determined enemy targets’ parameters, the computer can independently outline the sequence for their destruction, and calculate which subordinated forces and installations to fire from (if applicable) for greatest efficiency. The system’s human operators retain the last word, and can either approve the course of action chosen by the computer or independently punch in an alternative. In any event, AI-assisted calculations in air defenses serve a crucial purpose: reducing reaction time, and therefore increasing combat readiness and effectiveness.

In a statement, U.S. Central Command announced that F-22 Raptors from Virginia’s 94th Fighter Squadron have been deployed to the Middle East to counter Putin.

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