Russian forces are using UGV in Ukraine to disperse smoke screens

Apart from a land-based guided smoke dispersal system, Russian forces are also using an unmanned ground vehicle [UGV] for the same. A video on the Internet shows a simple-to-build, or customer-to-build, ground-based drone spreading smokescreens on the battlefield.

The vehicle is simple. The chassis is constructed of crossed metal frames with four rubber wheels. A frame at the top of the chassis attaches the device that disperses the smoke. It strongly resembles an anti-tank mine, although it cannot be confirmed. The gas that is activated and burned, apparently remotely, is very heavy, as observers note.

There is no official information on the operational range of the unmanned ground vehicle. Nor does it show the range of the smoke being released. It makes a strong impression that initially, the Russian UGV began to produce and disperse white thick smoke, which is the most common on the battlefield. But just a few seconds later, apparently through some chemical compound, the smoke became thick, dense, and black.

Russian forces are using UGV in Ukraine to disperse smoke screens
Video screenshot

Black smoke

The military often uses a variety of chemical compounds to create smoke screens for concealment and signaling purposes. One of the most commonly used compounds for generating a heavy black smoke screen is hexachloroethane [HC]. Hexachloroethane is a white crystalline solid that, when burned, produces a thick, dense black smoke. This smoke is highly effective in obscuring vision and can be used to mask troop movements, equipment, and other activities from enemy observation.

The black smoke generated by hexachloroethane is primarily composed of carbon particles. These particles are effective at absorbing and scattering light, which makes the smoke particularly opaque and difficult to see through. In addition to hexachloroethane, other compounds such as zinc chloride and aluminum chloride can be used in smoke-producing mixtures. These compounds can enhance the density and persistence of the smoke, making it more effective for military applications.

Russian forces are using UGV in Ukraine to disperse smoke screens
Video screenshot

While hexachloroethane-based smoke screens are highly effective, they also come with certain risks. The combustion of hexachloroethane can produce toxic byproducts, including hydrochloric acid and phosgene gas, which can pose health hazards to both the deploying forces and the enemy.

TDM-2K

Amid ongoing tensions, smoke screen vehicles have emerged as a staple in the Russian military’s toolkit. In the recent past, numerous TDM-2K vehicles have been deployed along the Ukraine contact line. These specialized military assets are tasked with a distinct primary responsibility – the creation of dense smoke screens to conceal the movements of infantry and battle tanks.

Russia demonstrates TDM-2K's smokescreening work in Ukraine
Video screenshot

A video offering a rare peek into these operations was recently released by the Russian Federation’s Ministry of Defense. This video spotlights an interview with a tactical unit commander deeply involved in concealing the movements of Russian units. Although his identity remains confidential, he delivers a comprehensive briefing on how his respective unit operates.

According to an anonymous commander, the TDM-2K is lauded for its exceptional ability to produce a smokescreen spanning a thousand meters. “It maximizes the survivability of our troops as it shields them from the enemy’s view,” the commander explains. Russian reports indicate that since the start of this year, there has been a significant increase in TDM-2K deployments on the battlefield. This spike potentially stems from the ongoing ammunition scarcity in Ukraine’s armed forces. As a result, the Russian military has stepped up the frequency of its aerial bombardments and ground advances. In these trying circumstances, the TDM-2K has emerged as an essential asset for ground troops.

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