When it comes to technology and tanks, we often think of one of two extremes. Firstly the original tanks from years ago, with the large cannons mounted to tracks and then we think to our idea of the future, with giant floating armoured platforms. It would seem the marines are looking to go somewhere inbetween, but not with flying tanks but ones equipped with more systems to help protect tanks from their enemies.
The U.S. Marine Corps is looking at using technology, not additional armour, to help protect their vehicles. First up on the list of technologies is the use of electronic anti-missile systems, or active protective systems, that will detect and intercept anything from a guided anti-tank rocket to the likes of a rocket propelled grenade (such as those used in RPG’s). The system in place would be the Israli Trophy Active Protection System (APS), with four systems being mounted to both Stryker combat vehicles and M1A2 tanks.
With jammers and missile interception components working together the hardware is commonly designed to protect ships or airplanes, but with threats changing the military wants to be one step ahead. That isn’t all, with the Marines also looking at “unmanned aerial systems” (Drones) to help spot enemies before they can even launch the attack.
Combining knowledge about threats before they happen with active and passive defence systems is a nice way to protect soldiers from unwanted threats at a moments notice.
Long have soldiers practiced their shooting skills at a firing range, shooting at paper targets to develop their marksmanship. Static paper targets pale in comparison to moving humanoid targets out in the field, however, which is where these slightly creepy four-wheeled robots come in. Designed to simulate more realistic battlefield conditions, these robots will replace the paper targets with moving targets which can drive in and out of cover and move around corners.
Developed by Marathon Targets, these robots are far from attractive to look at (which may be appealing when they are designed to be shot), looking like the upper torso of a dummy attached to a piece of machinery, they are far smarter and more well built than first appears. Using a combination of GPS guidance systems and a laser-based obstacle avoidance system with a range of 25 meters, the bots can easily be controlled from a remote location via laptop and even feedback to the operator when and where they were shot, like a high-tech way of checking the bullet holes in a target. Despite packing all of this technology, their most impressive feat is that the manufacturer reports that each robot can handle being shot thousands of times and still maintain its structure and operability.
Recently, the robots were tested by Marines from the 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton in California who provided a positive initial response to their usage. The Department of Defense released footage of the exercises, which shows Marines shooting at the robotic targets, who react to gunshot ‘wounds’ by tipping their ‘body’ at an angle.
Certainly not as cheap as a few pieces of paper down at the firing range, however, these robots show a new way of training the next generation of soldiers to be more effective against moving targets. Let’s just hope they don’t take it personally or we could be facing a robot uprising against bots able to take hundreds of shots and keep going.
The Naval Research Labratory has been testing pilotless helicopters for some time now. In fact, they’ve been using them in Afghanistan already but due to their inefficiencies in operating the technology it isn’t being used to its full potential.
Marines primarily use the unmanned helicopters for the delivery of items like water, food, and gear from place to place, where ever it might be needed.
The improvement in technology brings a greater level of autonomy to these units. According to officials associated with the project, the technology has been tested on three different helicopters already as well as two versions being produced by both Lockheed Martin and Aurora Flight Sciences.