Russian Cold War unmanned boat
Today, Unmanned Surface Vessels (USVs) are seen as an emerging trend in naval doctrine. But some types were in service during the Cold War (and even World War One!). This article describes the Russian BUKS (БУКС) mine and obstacle clearance boat from the Cold War.
Recent Russian military exercises in the Baltic included amphibious landings using some of the latest Russian project-21820 landing craft:
Project-21820 landing craft exercising in the Baltic, March 2018. Source Russian Ministry of Defense (https://twitter.com/mod_russia/status/980142689696890881)
The scenes are reminiscent of Soviet Cold War exercises in the Baltic which involved both Russian and other Warsaw Pact, notably Polish, landing craft. During the WEST-81 exercise in the Baltic a Polish Project-771 landing craft was observed with a mysterious small boat on board. This could easily be mistaken for a Special Forces transport or submersible boat, but was in fact the virtually unknown BUKS (БУКС) obstacle clearance boat.
Clearer pictures have emerged on Russian internet sites (e.g. http://forums.airbase.ru/2014/10/t21437_23--zagadki-pro-korabli.html#p3569968):
The boat towed a cigar shaped explosive charge known as УЗП-69 (UZP-69):
Images of this system are extremely rare and only a handful of Project 771 Landing craft were modified with davits to launch them:
The BUKS system appears to have left service some time in the 1980s. Today the latest generation of unmanned surface vessels is only just begining to enter service with leading navies.
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