IS Remotely Controlled SPG-9 In Use

Lost Weapons on Twitter has posted screen grabs from a recently released so-called Islamic State propaganda video show a remote controlled 73mm SPG-9 recoilless rifle (Russian in origin, derivative country origin unknown) in use by the rebel group in Syria. The contraption uses a camera hooked up to the optical sights, linked back to a controller. It appears that the launcher’s elevating and traversing mechanisms are locked in place however, thus negating any form of actual control over the launcher’s point of aim from the operator point of view. This is unlike other RC controlled platforms, such as this SVD, also in Syria. Thus, the launcher is really just pointed at a predesignated target, or target reference point, where the operators hopes that an enemy would appear. And even if the round is successfully fired, there would still have to be someone present in the room to reload the next casing, which almost entirely negates the point of it being remotely controlled in the first place. The other point is that it doesn’t appear that the connection to the video monitor can go very far, with screen grabs indicating that the video monitor is in the same room as the launcher.

Because of the lack of mobility with the launcher, the best way the so-called Islamic State could actually effectively use this is in a mobile platform, setting up the launcher in a hide site where it knows for certain that troops will be approaching and firing it off. Although this could be detrimental to opposing forces, the lack of elevation/traversing modes, the length of the video feed link, the need for users to be in the room, very much negate many of the tactical advantages that a remotely controlled recoilless rifle would offer to such a rebel group. Now, if it was tracked, it might be a different story.


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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  • Ark

    Okay. So instead of doing something useful, a guy is sitting at a laptop just waiting for someone to blunder in front of it? I’m not seeing the advantage, except that it looks cool in a propaganda reel.

    • joe tusgadaro

      It depends, he might be controlling a couple of these emplaced in ambush points over a sizable area. 1 guy 3…4…5 of these overwatching choke points..

      Not much different to smart mines etc majors armies are working on.

      • Phillip Cooper

        Also, if their forces really are being pared down (please, yes!) this is quite the force multiplier in that they may loose the weapon (really not hard to come across replacements) but they don’t lose the fighter controlling it.

        Quite similar in approach to how tanks and AFVs with the TUSK system are using remotely-controlled weapons.

    • Dougscamo

      With ISIS, if it goes BOOM in a spectacular fashion, it fits into their mindset….

    • John Daniels

      In practice, this is kind of functioning as a re-useable, remotely-operated mine. It can only target one spot, but it hits that spot with explosives while removing the operator from the area.

  • Harry Canyon

    Umm…I certainly wouldn’t want to be in the same room as this thing…

  • Renato H M de Oliveira

    This is basically a fancy and reloadable IED. If IEDs are deadly, an actual weapon (especially one this large) can really give you a bad day.
    Having the operator in the same room is indeed stupid, as the backblast of the beast would surely be problematic (or even deadly) in a closed room.
    While I do agree that a mobile weapon, and/or one which can be aimed at several directions is more desirable, if you manage to put it in a vantage point (a long alley, for example), it can still be very effective.

    • arpad1000

      I was thinking the same thing but I followed the link to the Wikipedia entry and the SPG-9 is a sort of a hybrid between a recoilless rifle and a rocket launcher.

      It uses a small initial charge to get the projectile out of the barrel and spinning. The rocket motor ignites about 60 meters after the projectile leaves the tube and boosts it up to its full velocity. So not all that much backblast when compared to a recoilless rifle or a rocket launcher like an RPG-7.

      • Renato H M de Oliveira

        Thanks for the info.
        In any case, Achmed would better not be at the exhaust nozzle… actually, stay there, Achmed!

      • Renato H M de Oliveira

        Significant backblast nonetheless, Achmed would have a very bad day with the head at the nozzle.

  • mrpotatocat

    I find it ironic that the battery brand is Rocket.

    • Dougscamo

      Amazon was out of ACME brand….

  • Michael

    Reusable claymore that may be effective against vehicles in the right circumstance. Like the claymore, this device can be employed without exposing yourself in the dust cloud right next to the (fired) weapon, thus initiating an ambush from behind cover, then pop up with small arms in a slightly offset position. It’s not the stupidest thing they’ve come up with, but still rather crude.

  • TheNotoriousIUD

    If thats all it is then why not set up some kinda trip wire or pressure mat or something to set it off instead of this overly complicated computer crap that also has to be constantly monitored?

  • glenn cheney

    Lol, P.C. Likely will be my undoing, however, THE HILL not withstanding, I’ll save MILES or “Discus-sed out” the trouble of deleting my “hate speech” in spite of the First Amendment.

  • longfisher

    Probably speaks to their casualty rate…I hope.

  • Ummm, from the post- “released so-called Islamic State propaganda video”
    Emphasis on so-called. By adding those words in there, I am removing any legitimacy by not recognizing it as a government formed under Islamist principles.

  • Diver6106

    If the TV signal is not tempest shielded, then it could be picked up, possibly by a drone. And even hacked to fire at will… another failed ISIS effort…