Soldier of the Future

The QinetiQ Titan Strike UGV – which incorporates a General Purpose Machine Gun with a laser rangefinder – operating alongside British troops. The remote-controlled system is intended to support troops in action but can swap its machine gun for thermal imaging cameras and radar for sentry duties. (CPL REBECCA BROWN/CROWN COPYRIGHT)

THE BRITISH Army has completed its largest military exercise involving UAVs and robots in the country’s history. Heralded as ‘game-changing’ moment, Exercise Autonomous Warrior followed a similar Royal Navy exercise and required British troops to operate in conjunction with more than 70 examples of the latest and future technologies including UAVs and autonomous ground vehicles. More than 200 troops from 1st Armoured Infantry Brigade – with vehicles such as the Warrior IFV – and other cross-service and US Army personnel participated in the exercise, working alongside the UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory and industry partners.

Each of the many prototypes – developed to assist and protect troops – were tested in a tough simulation of combat and unforgiving operational environments during the four-week manoeuvres, culminating in a large-scale battlegroup exercise on Salisbury Plain in December.

A particular focus for much of the prototyped equipment was ‘last mile’ resupply. This will see unmanned vehicles deliver foodstuffs, fuel, and ammunition over the hazardous final approach to a combat area, theoretically removing the need for vulnerable logistics assets to enter the main engagement zone. Other technologies assisted in long-range/precision targeting, reconnaissance, and in enhancing mobility.