On September 21, Oleksandr Turchynov, the Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine, took part in an event where the latest developments of the Ukrainian defense industry were demonstrated. Among a variety of new and upgraded weapon systems and vehicles (helicopters, armored vehicles, UAVs etc.), they also revealed a remote-controlled conversion of the ZU-23 autocannon.
ZU-23 is a twin-barrelled 23mm autocannon initially developed for anti-aircraft use. More than half a century after its development, this autocannon is still in service in the armed forces of post-Soviet and many other countries. Although it is not too useful against modern military jets, it can be very successfully used against UAVs. Also, this autocannon is widely used in the Ukrainian and Middle Eastern conflicts as an anti-materiel and anti-personnel weapon system. With an extremely high rate of fire (2,000 rpm) and quite a potent cartridge, it is a devastating tool for the mentioned applications.
By designing the remote control conversion of the ZU-23 autocannon, Ukrainian arms designers probably try to further adapt this weapon system to the requirements of the modern warfare. According to the Ukrainian officials who demonstrate this weapon in the video embedded below, a single operator can control up to six remote-controlled ZU-23 autocannons. Apparently, the manual operation is still retained and upgraded, too.
Another tendency observed in the current wars is the almost exclusive use of the ZU-23 autocannon in a mounted configuration. If you watch combat footage from the Ukrainian or Syrian conflicts, you’ll see that these autocannons are mostly mounted on pickup trucks, BMP and MTLB chassis etc. Mobile ZU-23 autocannons are even more effective anti-materiel and anti-personnel weapons. So the mobility became pretty much a must-have feature for this weapon in the modern combat. That being said, I think this new remote-controlled version of the ZU-23 autocannon could possibly be even more effective if mounted onto an unmanned ground vehicle.
Turchynov. (2018, September 21). “О. Турчинов: Відбулися випробування нової високоефективної української зброї та військової техніки” [Video File]. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSRGRhxBzgs