Russia Proved How Stupid Western Media Is At Defense Reporting With This Ridiculous Contraption
Moscow is consistently spewing out a stream of technologically and fiscally unsubstantiated weapons programs and the western press is drinking it up.
Russian weapons manufacturer Kalashnikov—which carries the name of Mikhail Kalashnikov, who gave birth to the legendary AK-47 rifle—pulled off what would be laughable PR stunt, or it would have been if the results weren't so frustrating. The sad part is that western media bought right in, taking what is no more than a cheap vaporware weapon mockup that wouldn't pass muster as a prop in a made for TV movie and turning it into a viral news story.
Enter the ever more wanna-be diversified Kalashnikov Concern's "Igorek" mecha. It's 13 feet tall and supposedly weights 4.5 tons. Yeah, it's also going to be heavily armored and the operator will be able to fire giant weapons from its claws, and it will be in testing soon and so on and so forth.
So, let's be clear, this is not real. They stuck a bad approximation of a science fiction mecha/walker outside of their concourse at the Army 2018 weapons expo to grab attention. There are nearly no actual military applications for such a vehicle and the development that would be needed to make it work on even a near useless level on the battlefield is laughably out of reach for Russia, and that's a blessing in this case, not a curse.
I don't have to explain its tactical vulnerabilities and mobility issues either. We have all seen enough Hollywood blockbusters to figure that out. And while the United States did develop a mecha of sorts during the Cold War, it was heavily shielded and intended to service a nuclear-powered bomber, not clearing the streets in Western Syria and building fortresses. A small number of other experiments were even less successful.
So, this is a publicity stunt, and a bad one at that, but one that has deep pop culture cross-overs that the press, and especially the defense-related press (see Space Force as an example), loves to finagle into headlines. But no, this isn't your Star Wars, Avatar, or anime dreams becoming a reality. There won't be any glorious battle against these things on any forest moons anytime soon. It is just... Crap.
I get it, trust me, we all have our stinkers. No journalist or commentator bats 1000, but outright playing into something as ridiculous and underdeveloped as this on anywhere near a serious level is straight-up malpractice. And I am the first to remind people to not underestimate America's peer state competitors, including Russia. That stance has proven me right more than any other over the years and in this case I am sticking to it, because Russia wouldn't be stupid enough to actually plow heaps of rubles into this fantasy. They have other far clearer priorities that have already sucked funds away from much more relevant and higher profile weapons programs.
What's scary is that I received so many messages asking me to write something about this thing. Eventually I decided to do just that to underscore how far many writers will grease a low-hanging fruit like this to get some traffic and make their day a little easier, not to build up bullshit hype about a near-future in which huge two-legged science fiction robots become a battlefield reality.
While this wouldn't be that big of an issue under most circumstances, the fact that Moscow has actively played the western press and has multiple information warfare campaigns running at any given time on a scale not seen since the Cold War, makes this type of thing just a bit annoying. But don't hate the player, hate the game.
It's been a constant stream of these unfeasible weapons ideas that are put out for consumption to the masses who don't know any better by a press that needs the traffic and loves to ride the hyperbole train, especially on a topic as opaque and often misunderstood as defense issues. From ATV riding androids to mini robotic tanks and everything in between—all of which are actually just radio controlled contraptions—the western press largely buys into Moscow's narrative that they are developing a robot army and that a 'Skynet' scenario could be right around the corner, but with the Kremlin at its controls.
Advanced artificial intelligence is not a remote controlled robotic dummy on a scooter, and when it comes to robotics alone, Russia is far behind the United States. Additionally, robots are only one example of this steady stream weapons fantasy. For instance, there's this mechanical battle suit—that also offers a cloaking system now incidentally—but is actually just a costume.
Then there is Russia's claims that they are developing everything all the time, from strategic bombers to nuclear supercarriers to a bunch of new fighters. Yet at the same time they can't even afford the far less ambitious equipment they have already developed. Although we have to report of some of these developments because there is truth buried within each pile of disinformation, getting to that truth has become increasingly challenging. So to those who wonder why we are always so skeptical of Russia's weapons development claims, it's for good reason. Sometimes they even weight successful and promising weapons programs down with outlandish capability claims, always seeming to be in competition with the United States. It's counterproductive in so many ways, to say the least.
So there you have it. Russia's semi-state run weapons industry jumped the shark with this one and it's time the press does their job and calls them out for how stupid this looks not exclaiming how it will be exciting when the next war looks just like the one on Pandora. And what's most alarming is that this mentality is also spilling into western defense topics, where just a fiberglass mockup of a fighter jet and some buzzword filled powerpoint presentations makes reporters act as if the thing actually exists, when the real question should be is it even feasible in the first place. I get that these things are exciting for these things, I get excited too, but get a grip people.
And keep in mind, this is all coming from a guy that has the name of a famous, two legged, gun and missile slinging robot on his license plates. I shouldn't be the adult in the room on this one. That alone should give you an idea of just how insulting all this is to our collective intelligence.
Contact the author: Tyler@thedrive.com