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.