Ukraine is eyeing up a groundbreaking new missile-launcher robot dubbed the Funnel Web to smash through enemy lines.
The cutting-edge new tech has been designed for ground forces to gain a tactical advantage while keeping troops out of harm’s way.
Named after the deadly Australian spider, the Funnel Web can be controlled using a simple handheld device “like a ruggedised PlayStation controller”.
The Sun has been told that some Ukraine defence representatives are closely following the development of the robot – and there are plans to discuss its potential use for them in the war against Putin.
Ukraine appears to be turning the tide against the Russian invaders as the counteroffensive gathers pace and troops claw back territory.
At Poland’s 31st International Defence Exhibition on Tuesday, Rocket manufacturer Black Sky Aerospace and robot developer Funnel Web Systems revealed that a demo of the rocket launcher had been successful.
The technology is said to use “military grade communications” with strong protection against potential hackers.
Video from cameras attached to the robots are fed to users, allowing them to accurately see from their perspective, and the missiles are command-detonated remotely.
The prototypes of the launchers are small, 60mm by 900mm and weighing just 1.5kg.
It means they are able to move and get into position quickly, though there will be variations of the product depending on the requirements of their users.
The size of the rockets able to be launched from the robots are also reconfigurable and will depend on users’ needs but vary from about 80mm to 1.2m.
Black Sky CEO and former Australian Army pilot Blake Nikolic said the rockets – which can be tailored to buyers’ needs and preferences and their “required effects” – could save Ukrainian soldiers’ lives.
He explained: “We can see uses where a missile needs to launch from a location that might put soldiers at too much risk or be otherwise inaccessible.
“The Funnel Web can push into new areas and wait for targets to present, and then be command-launched remotely.”
Nikolic told The Sun that neighbours of war-torn Ukraine might also benefit from using the technology to deter potential attackers.
He said: “If invading forces think there might be robot-mounted missiles around any given corner then perhaps that will make them think twice.
“If robots can help relieve the load off Ukrainians, the faster we can supply them the better.”
Funnel Web Systems’ head of systems engineering Andre Preller says the robots would play a key role in future warfare.
“What is happening in Ukraine now demonstrates that an innovation cycle needs to react to evolving threats and opportunities,” he said.
“The cycle needs to be three weeks, not three years, and that’s what we’re good at.”
Nikolic said it took the Australian companies less than a week to launch the innovative product after agreeing on the concept.
It comes after Black Sky test-fired its first artillery style missile from the back of a Holden Colorado Ute to determine how quickly a vehicle could be adapted for frontline combat.
Highly sophisticated missiles, drones, tanks, ammunition and defence systems are now a regular feature on the battlefield in Ukraine.
They easily trounce Russia’s outdated tactics, rusty weaponry and untrained conscripts on land, sea and air.
NATO allies have been pooling resources to give Ukraine a leg up against Putin’s forces, sending an array of high-tech Western weapons that may prove pivotal in the war.
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