Captured Daesh remote controlled SVD

An article that came out on Fox News has a picture of an odd SVD contraption captured by the Peshmerga in action against Daesh in northern Syria. The article had this to say-

In a dusty outpost near the Kurdish-held northern city of Kirkuk, a Peshmerga commander recently displayed two weapons that show his enemy’s increasing adaptability on the battlefield. One was a scoped sniper rifle, customized and mounted on a welded steel platform and built to track targets by computer and fire by remote control…

Kerkuki revealed the captured weaponry along with bullet riddled black flags and photographs of other ISIS munitions captured during a successful Peshmerga operation against ISIS just weeks ago. The gun was operated attached to a computer by four long cables that controlled barrel elevation, gun rotation, the trigger and the camera. An operator could place the weapon at an elevated vantage point, and then hide out of sight while controlling the weapon via the computer screen like a lethal video game.

Kerkuki said it was not clear who built the weapon or where it came from. Controls and labels on the wires were written in English, but the deadly innovation of the device led some to suspect it was built by Chechen fighters, who have poured in to join ISIS.

Whether the thing actually works is a whole other deal. Also, the amount of technology that goes into remote controlled systems is sometimes staggering in size. As an example with the robot driven M249 SAW contraption or the remote control turret mounts in use with MRAPs in Afghanistan. Sure this thing might be able to change elevation, windage, and fire off a round, but with the precision needed to hit anything beyond 50-100 meters?


It seems to change elevation by the forward pivot point, while windage is adjustable by the rear most pivot point that seems to work on hydraulics. Where the sighting system or camera is, I have no idea, there’s just the scope. 


Infantry Marine, based in the Midwest. Specifically interested in small arms history, development, and usage within the MENA region and Central Asia. To that end, I run Silah Report, a website dedicated to analyzing small arms history and news out of MENA and Central Asia.

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  • Heretical Politik

    Impressive. I’m guessing the camera is missing, either shot off or removed as more valuable than the gun itself. Also, looks to me like the piston at the rear adjusts elevation, and windage is adjusted by the geared traverse mechanism at the bottom.

    The armored truck suicide bomb in the article was pretty amazing too, it even had slat armor.

  • Darkpr0

    It doesn’t have to even make hits to be effective. A weapon that can fire shots autonomously will provoke plenty of fear, and that in itself is a very nasty weapon. It’s also probably a giant pain to disable with small arms fire.

    Consider how many people freak out knowing they’re in a 180 arc of a loaded gun on a range. This one can probably home in much better and actively fire. Even if it’s not accurate to within 10 feet, that’s still plenty good enough to provoke the response they want.

    • Not_a_Federal_Agent

      Being remote controlled does not make something autonomous.

      • iksnilol

        I doubt it is hard to rig it up to fire autonomously. Has been done with paintball and cameras.

        Though I doubt they would do that because you risk hitting your own people.

      • Darkpr0

        I am bad at reading articles. My bad. In any case this is an effective tool for creating problems for any force.

  • iksnilol

    Pretty smart. Even if you don’t hit what you’re shooting at it is still effective at area denial.

  • Patrick

    Not sure why folks think this is not accurate. A big part of accuracy are shooter induced variables. If you take out breathing, trigger jerk, flinching, etc. and introduce a consistent recoil management system, this could be quite accurate.

    • Pike0331

      I’m thinking it’s probably not fitted perfectly and tight and assume the recoil is going to move the weapon slightly every shot. The recoil could even cause the mount to move slightly, throwing the shot off. Thats my guess

    • John

      It’s just a way of making themselves feel better. We’re all humans, even though we may not act like it, and we all have the same grasp of technology in the 21st century.

      I’m just waiting for someone to swap out a drone’s Hellfire missiles with a machine gun.

    • CommonSense23

      Why people think this won’t be accurate? Look at it. Look at how its strapped down. Every shot is going to cause it to shift in its mount. Google a RWS if you want to see how to properly set up a remote weapons station.

      • wetcorps

        As long as the camera is snugly attached to the scope, the rifle shifting in its mount isn’t going to change anyhting, is it? The mount moves until the crosshairs are on target, then you shoot.
        Unless you tried to shoot a tight group but that’s not the point.

  • steveday72

    “It seems to change elevation by the forward pivot point, while windage is adjustable by the rear most pivot point that seems to work on hydraulics. Where the sighting system or camera is, I have no idea, there’s just the scope.”

    Incorrect… You can see a large geared cog at the bottom of the mounting post. This would be driven by a small gear on a motor to control windage. The rear of the receiver is attached to a satellite dish actuator (electric) to control elevation.

    There appears to be remains of electrical tape on the eyepiece of the scope. I assume some sort of small camera was crudely attached there. The portable DVD player (shown sitting at the base) was obviously the remote viewing display.

  • BattleshipGrey

    Why not rig up something that requires less manipulation like a belt fed weapon? Even if you just shoot it semi auto or a couple round burst at a time? Sure the SVD is accurate to a good distance, but you’d have to go back and reload it every ten rounds. Perhaps the engagements are short enough that ten rounds is all they needed to out-maneuver or retreat.

    • morokko

      They do this already with PKs, I also recall pictures of AKs and even one Sturmgewehr fitted with remote firing mechanism. This seems to be Syrian War theatre specialty, as there they have prolonged instances of positional warfare in cities. In this case it could be just a way of reusing broken rifle. I think it may be useful for suppressing the movement of opponents in preordained routes by imitating sniper fire and as a decoy, to avoid detection of real sniper nests. Match grade accuracy would not be necessary for this kind of work. Beside the obvious security benefit it can be operated by even untrained man on the watch without employing tiresome firing positions for long periods of time.

  • Casual observation

    Uh oh, Precision Remotes should be worried 🙂

  • Patrick M.

    I prefer that remote controlled STG44 from a couple years ago

  • patrickiv

    It’s not that complicated. You can buy IP cameras for 200 bucks that have a full range of movement that can be controlled remotely (from the other side of the world). Attach the signal for the IR illuminator to a relay and solenoid on the trigger and you’re in business.

  • DrewN

    At my old range there was a group of college students who made a rig like this using a cut down K31, and they made theirs look like a generic satellite dish. They were still working out the bugs on actuating the bolt, but it worked fantastic as a single shot. MOA easy. It had a pretty decent range of motion as well. No way you would pick it out in an urban environment.

  • MPWS

    The important part – actual interface. Was it controlled by mouse or touch screen?
    Typical general reporting – not very technical.