WASHINGTON, DC – The robot soldiers of the future, so-called “battle bots,” are still in basic training.
“Being able to take soldiers out of harm’s way and accomplish the mission is a very attractive option to any commander,” according to Lt. Col. Jesse Curry, commander of the 82nd Brigade Engineer Battalion. Curry, participated in a recent joint American-British military exercise in Germany, designed to test what the army calls, the Robotic Complex Breach Concept.
“The exercise, which used robotic vehicles, proved the value of technology in warfare, paving the way for the development of humanoid robotic soldiers. The idea of replacing infantrymen with androids is a concept that may be in its infancy, but it is an attainable goal. Battlefield drones that can be armed with sniper rifles, machine guns and grenade launchers, already exist,” says Dan Weber, president of the Association of Mature American Citizens [AMAC].
And then there is the Sea Hunter, a full-size unmanned submarine chaser, which was developed by America’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency [DARPA]. The ship is undergoing further development at the Office of Naval Research. At 132 feet long and weighing in at 140 tons, the “Ghost Ship” is the largest unmanned vessel in the world.
The vessel can stay at sea for months at a time, traveling thousands of miles in search of enemy submarines. It’s the ideal sub chaser, but it also paves the way for an assortment of sea going tasks.
Fred Kennedy, director of DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office says the “ACTUV [Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel] represents a new vision of naval surface warfare that trades small numbers of very capable, high-value assets for large numbers of commoditized, simpler platforms that are more capable in the aggregate. The U.S. military has talked about the strategic importance of replacing ‘king’ and ‘queen’ pieces on the maritime chessboard with lots of ‘pawns,’ and ACTUV is a first step toward doing exactly that.”
War is fought not just on land and at sea. Battles have an important aerial component, as well. And, the U.S. Air Force is already developing its own unmanned systems. In fact, it has already turned its F-16 drone aircraft, used as realistic targets in training fighter pilots, into a pilotless air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons. In one of its first test flights, the unmanned fighter was able to successfully conduct an air-to-ground attack on its own. And, when it was faced with a surprise attack by an “enemy” plane, it responded appropriately and continued its mission.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy is developing its own carrier based, unmanned combat aircraft
“The U.S. has been developing technologies that have already changed the face of war. The goal is to keep our sons and daughters in the military safe by taking them out of the equation on battlefields, whether they are fought on land, sea or in the air. We’ve made strides in achieving that aim, but we have a long way to go before we can win a human conflict with automatons. In the meantime, let’s continue to be proud of our service men and women and pray for their safe homecomings,” says AMAC’s Weber.
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