Republic of Serbia (2016)
Remote Control Unmanned Platform – 10+ Built
In recent years, most modern armies around the world have become increasingly interested in developing remotely controlled vehicles and aircraft. These vehicles are intended to perform various combat roles, ranging from reconnaissance, logistics, or probably most importantly, direct combat operations. These were developed in the hope to supplement or even replace human soldiers in dangerous situations, thus reducing the risk to human life. The effectiveness of these vehicles is shown during the ongoing war in Ukraine. The use of drones has especially gained huge media coverage.
The Serbian Army entered this new arms race by initially introducing the short-range anti-tank system named Милица (Eng: Milica – a Serbian female name). It was, in essence, a small remotely-controlled tracked vehicle armed with two anti-tank launchers. While it was not adopted for service, further development would lead to the Милош (‘Miloš’ in the Latin script) Даљински Управљива Безпосадна Платформа – ДУБП (English: Milosh – a Serbian male name – Remote Control Unmanned Platform) which entered service with the Serbian Army in small numbers.
The Milica Predecessor
Prior to Miloš, the first Modular Robotic System vehicle under the name Milica was developed by Jugoimport, one of the major Serbian arms and weapons manufacturers. During the late 2000s, Jugoimport was also involved in developing a number of remote-controlled systems meant to perform different tasks, ranging from surveillance to anti-tank operations.
Milica was primarily intended to provide infantry with a remotely controlled anti-armor close support system that could engage modern MBTs (main battle tanks). It could also be used to engage and destroy an enemy firing positions and fortifications. The Milica system was intended to be fully modular, which meant it could be adapted to fulfill various combat roles, but also secondary non-combat duties. Other roles included helping infantry with gathering intelligence, monitoring and observing areas that were not yet fully secured, transporting spare equipment and ammunition, and even transporting wounded soldiers. While a fully working vehicle was built, no production orders for this project were ever issued. In order not to waste the resources and time used to develop this vehicle, its chassis was reused for another project, the Miloš.
Interestingly, way back in 1985, during a military exhibition of various weapons and equipment held in Belgrade, an unusual remote control platform was presented, described as being named ‘Hunter’. This vehicle was designed to relocate unidentified explosive devices to save distance. While not much is known of this vehicle, its hull design somewhat resembles that of the later built Miloš. If this vehicle in any way had an influence on the Miloš project is unknown, but it seems unlikely given its huge time differences of over 30 years.
Miloš’ Development History
The Milica project, in the end, led to no production order either by the Serbian Army or aboard. Nevertheless, it provided Serbian engineers with key experience in designing such vehicles. It also offered a good starting point for a series of new improvements. Based on its initial development, work on improving the overall performance was undertaken by Војнотехничког институт VTI (English: Military Technical Institute). Прва Петолетка – Наменсka ППТ (PPT) would also later join in. This firm specializes in the modernization and production of small-arm weapons. It is also involved in the production of some new Serbian military vehicles, such as the PASARS-16 mobile anti-aircraft platform.
The available sources do not offer much information on the development process. What is known is that the project was initiated in 2016. The main aim of this project was to provide the Serbian Army with a remote control unmanned platform. Initial plans did not include that this vehicle would be used as an export opportunity. Instead, it was specially designed to fulfill the needs of the Serbian Army.
To make the new starting point easier and cheaper, the new designers initially reused the Milica’s chassis. While the armament of the Milica was sufficient to deal with tanks and fortified positions, it lacked any means to combat enemy infantry formations. This role was intended for the new vehicle, and for that reason, the armament was to be replaced with one machine gun and grenade launcher. With this new armament, the main purpose of this vehicle was to provide fire support for Serbian special forces during an engagement against enemy infantry groups or positions at ranges up to 800 m. Armament aside, the whole chassis, suspension, and superstructure would be completely redesigned. Initial work was mainly focused on experimenting with different armaments on the Milica’s chassis. Further work led to testing a new suspension that incorporated fewer but larger independent torsion bar-suspended road wheels.
At some point, the original Milica’s chassis was redesigned and replaced by a much smaller and possibly simpler design. The four-road wheel suspension was used, but the design of the wheel was slightly changed. The drive sprocket was moved to the rear, and the idler was placed to the front. In addition, due to technological advances, the bulky superstructure was also completely removed. This new vehicle was presented for the first time to the public during the military exercises Челик 2017 (English: Steel).
This vehicle is known by the name Miloš. It is also referred to as Miloš-N, with the N standing for Наоружани (English: Armed). In the media, it is sometimes called Мали Милош (English: Little Milosh). The vehicle class is referred to by various designations, such as an Unmanned Ground Vehicle, Remotely Controlled Unmanned Platform, or simply a Drone. As the Serbians use both Cyrillic and Latin scripts, this article refers to it as Miloš.
Given its recent introduction, the Miloš overall design has often been prone to various modifications and improvements. Because of this, its current form may receive additional changes in the future. What is more, due to being a new combat platform, more precise information on its construction is likely to be unavailable to the public yet.
The simple box-shaped hull is fully enclosed and was built using welded steel armor with a combination of screws. These hold the upper plates in place so that they can be easily removed for maintenance and repairs in the field.
While there is limited information on its interior, based on the available pictures, the hull can be seen divided into a few sections. The transmission has been placed on the rear. The electric motor, batteries, and other equipment needed for controlling and powering the main weapon system have likely been stored in the remaining part of the hull. Two cameras (one in front and one to the back) have been placed on the hull. It also has what appears to be a pair of towing hooks placed on the front and the rear of the upper hull.
The suspension consists of four road wheels. These are independently suspended with torsion support units. Further, there is a rear-mounted drive sprocket, rear idler, and two return rollers. Thanks to the use of an electric motor, small size, and rubberized tracks, Miloš provides the possibility of approaching enemy positions quite stealthily.
With this suspension unit, the Miloš is capable of reaching a vertical elevation of 25° and a side elevation of 20°. Crossing a 2.5 m wide trench is also possible. Ground clearance of this vehicle is 200 mm. Given its small size, it is possible for it to be used inside buildings (that have entrance points at least 80 cm wide) by climbing staircases.
This vehicle is powered by an unspecified electrical motor connected to 60 to 84-V strong lithium-ion batteries. With a weight of 650 kg, its maximum speed is 7 km/h. The effective operational autonomy ranges between 2 to 8 hours depending on the current mode it is used for. For example, when stationary and used for observation or shooting, the operational range goes up to 8 hours. When in movement, the operational range is 2.5 hours, and movement-observation-shooting decreases its operational use to 2 hours.
While the Milica incorporated a highly angled but bulky superstructure, the engineers that worked on Miloš, decided to completely remove it from the Miloš. With new technologies, it was possible to place the automotive parts inside the hull. This made the whole design much easier to build.
The Miloš’ turret acts as a firing platform for the main armaments with spare ammunition, optic sights, signal antennas, a control management panel, and a fire control system. The turret known as Даљински Управљана Борбена Станиица – ДУБС (English: Remote Control Combat Station – RCCS) was developed by the PPT to be used as an axillary firing platform for armored vehicles. This turret is also used on the new Командно Извиђачкао Возило КИВ (English: Command and Reconnaissance Vehicle – CRV) based on the BOV-3 4×4 vehicle.
The Miloš’ overall design changed during its development. Initially, a much smaller turret was used, replaced by a somewhat larger design. Besides the obvious changes to the dimensions, the position of the grenade launcher and the optic unit were repositioned. The current version has a weight of 275 kg and is powered by 24V batteries.
When the Miloš project was initiated, it was primarily intended to deal with targets up to 800 m away. For this, a 7.62 mm M-86 machine gun was used as the main armament. To further increase firepower, a 40 mm grenade launcher was also added.
As the Miloš’ development continued, the armament and ammunition storage position received some changes to the overall design. The machine gun was positioned inside the small turret. Initially, it was placed inside the turret, almost covering it completely. Later, the machine gun was placed further to the front of the vehicle. The position of the ammunition box magazine with a capacity of 500 rounds received some changes. At first, it was placed next to the machine gun and fed it directly. The later improvement led to the introduction of the somewhat larger turret, which also required some changes to the magazine’s design. The magazine on the new version is placed sideways and fed to the machine gun by a guiding rail. To avoid potentially damaging (although the chanse for that is minimal) the vehicle, a spent cartridge box is placed in front of the turret. The M-86 is a gas-operated machine gun intended to be used as a coaxial or mounted on an armored vehicle. It is activated electrically and has a firing rate of 700 to 800 rpm.
The grenade launcher was initially placed on the left of the machine gun. It would be repositioned to the rear and slightly above the machine gun. It uses a six-round drum magazine. This launcher had a maximum effective firing range of up to 375 m.
Recently, the Miloš has adopted to mount two 64 mm M80 Зоља (English: Wespe) rocket-propelled anti-tank grenades. The M80 Зоља is a disposable, cheap, and easy-to-use anti-tank weapon developed during the early 1980s. While maybe a bit outdated, it is still useful in engaging enemy light armor and fortified positions. The combat-effective range of this weapon is 200 m while the maximum range is up to 400 m. It is capable of penetrating some 300 mm of homogeneous armor. With a weight of 3 kg, it could be easily carried by one man, so mounting two such weapons on Miloš was not a major issue. These two are located on the Miloš’ left turret side. In this case, the original armament is still retained, greatly increasing its combat effectiveness. The use of the M80 appears to be temporary as better weapons systems are currently in development.
All weapons on the Miloš are linked together and can not be operated at different targets independently. The whole turret can achieve a full 360° rotation, while the elevation of the weapon systems is -15° to 50°. The Miloš’ operator can adjust the rotation and elevation speed to suit different needs. The rotation speed ranges from 0.05°/s to 48°/s, while the elevation speed 0.05°/s to 28°/s.
Not much is yet published about the Miloš’ overall protection. What is known is that this vehicle is protected against small caliber rounds from 5.56 mm to 7.62 mm. Another layer of defense is the vehicle’s own small size. Its length is 1.7 m, width 0.77 m, and height 0.95 m. As the Miloš’ development progresses, other modifications intended to increase its survivability may be introduced.
Control and Optics
The Miloš is provided with a charge-coupled device – CCD camera with a maximum zoom of 30x. With this camera, the Miloš’ operator is capable of spotting an enemy soldier at up to 1 km distance. Miloš also possesses a night vision-thermal camera that has a zoom of up to 4x. Using it during the night, an enemy soldier can be spotted at 450 m. In addition, it also incorporates a laser range finder with a maximum operational range of up to 2 km. Lastly, Miloš has a meteorological sensor connected to the firing system. Its purpose is to provide information such as wind speed and azimuth for better correction of fire.
Miloš is remotely controlled using a fixed control panel that is located in a command vehicle. Another option is to use a small portable control panel that is operated by one operator. In this case, great attention is given to this control panel to be as easy to use as possible. During good visibility on an open field with few obstacles, the Miloš can maintain operational communication with its operator at ranges up to 3 km. In cities or on bad terrain where visibility is reduced, the visual operational communication with this vehicle is around 1.5 km. In a non-visual situation, its command operational range is 500 m. Lastly, the operator is also provided with an ammunition counter indicator, to help keep track of the spent ammunition.
In 2021, the PPT presented two new versions of the Miloš. The first version is intended to provide an increase in overall performance and firepower. The second version was to act as logistical support by transporting equipment and ammunition or even wounded soldiers. Both versions are currently at the prototype stage and their production numbers are likely small.
Further development into the Miloš project led to the creation of a new prototype named Miloš V2 (the original Miloš is marked as V1). It incorporates a number of modifications and improvements. The obvious change is the use of a five-road wheel suspension. The length of this version is 1.87 m, width is 0.96 m, and the height is 0.95 m. Improvements to its automotive drive unit allow for an increase of maximum speed of up to 15 km/h despite the weight being increased to 750 kg.
In addition, the armament was replaced by a 12.7 mm heavy machine gun and two 9 cm M79 anti-tank rocket launchers. The 9 cm M79 with a maximum firing range of 650 m is capable of penetrating 400 mm of rolled homogeneous armor. Further development is to include Russian Kornet missile launchers. The Miloš V2 RCCS (without the two M79) was tested as part of the M-84AS1 prototype upgrade package
The Miloš-L, the L-stands for Логистика (English: Logistic) is an unarmed version of this vehicle. Its main purpose is to act as a support and auxiliary supply carrier vehicle. It has a towing capacity of 200 kg, either in supply or transporting wounded men. It is different, as it has no weapon platform, which was replaced by a storage bin. The front of it is protected by an armored shield, while the side has a metal fence that can be used to store additional equipment and supplies.
Following the successful testing of the prototype, a small 0-series was produced for the Serbian Army for further evaluation. These 12 vehicles were allocated to the 72. Бригаде за Специјалне Операције (English: 72nd Brigade for Special Operation). Ironically, this Brigade is also equipped with 4×4 BOV M16 Miloš Multi-Purpose combat vehicles. To differentiate these two, the RCUP Miloš is often referred to as Little Miloš. A few Miloš were used during military exercises, such as the Садејство 2020 and Муњевити Удар 2021.
The fate of the Miloš is not yet clear, but unofficially, it has been estimated that a production order of 50 to 100 of the V1 version are to be built. If this is true is yet to be seen. The price of the V1 version is noted to be €120,000 and the larger version €200,000.
While initially it was not intended for export, in 2022, the Miloš was presented to a delegation from the United Arab Emirates in Abu Dhabi. Despite the extremely warm climate, on demonstrations, the Miloš performed without any issues. If this demonstration bears any fruit for orders or modifications, only time will tell.
The Miloš is certainly a modern and capable remote control platform. Thanks to it, enemy infantry formations or positions can be engaged without the need to expose Serbian soldiers to unnecessary threats. How it will perform in the future and if a production order for more vehicles is ever achieved is yet to be seen.
|Crew||One remote operator|
|Dimensions||Length 1.7 m, Width 0.77 m, Height 0.95 m|
|Operational range||2 to 8 hours|
|Elevation||-15° to +50°|
|Armor||Able to resist 7.62 mm rounds|
M. Jandrić Weaponry and Military equipment Fair, Partner 2009
M. Švedić (2010) Arsenal 31-40, Odbrana