Feeds

All US Army combat units now to include robots

Automated tanks, gunships, even generals on the way

Intelligent flash storage arrays

The march of the droids continues, with news emerging over the festive season that ordinary US Army line units - not special forces or temporary trial formations - will now consist partly of war robots and other digitally networked automated killware.

The revelations come with the announcement last week that the US Army's "Brigade Combat Team Modernisation" programme "Increment One" hardware and software will enter initial production as of "early 2010".

This first tranche of modernisation to American combat brigades will see the deployment in every formation of the following items:

  • The "Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle" crawler war-bot, capable of "infantry and special forces" operations in buildings, caves and tunnels. The SUGV is unarmed (though it can mount a laser range finder and a manipulator claw) but it has a bigger brother which can be fitted with a "Metal Storm" multibarrelled grenade launcher capable of loosing off a devastating fusillade of 16 high explosive warheads in a fraction of a second.
  • The "Class I Unmanned Air Vehicle", aka the "Tarantula Hawk", a small hovering wastebin sized spy droid propelled by a ducted fan. British forces in Afghanistan already have a few of these, and US specialist elite units have lots; now they are to go mainstream.
  • The Non Line Of Sight Launch System, also known as "Netfires" or "Rockets in a Box", which replaces cumbersome batteries of artillery with a single automated crate about the size of a fridge. The NLOS-LS can be remotely commanded across the military net to spit out its 15 mini kamikaze-bot cruise missiles and send them off to attack targets many miles away. The missiles once launched become network nodes themselves and can pursue moving targets, homing in relentlessly on a heat signature or laser dot and sending live pics as they do so.

Other bits and pieces to be delivered as part of Increment 1 include scatterable networked sensors and bugs, and kit to deliver the underlying net which will support all these things.

"Brigade Combat Team Modernisation" is the new name for the ambitious Future Combat Systems networked-army plans, now officially torpedoed after massive cost overruns and accusations of irrelevancy, and indeed possibly of madness. The original vision for FCS included even more puissant war robots, including a heavily beweaponed droid kill-chopper and what was in effect a powerful robotic tank.

Despite the nominal disappearance of the FCS droid-legion plans, the robotank and slay-copter plans may yet come to fruition in future "modernisation increments". One might also note that there are plans afoot in the Pentagon to largely replace human headquarters officers directing the machinery with automated software as well. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
You can crunch it all you like, but the answer is NOT always in the data
Hear that, 'data journalists'? Our analytics prof holds forth
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
Human spacecraft dodge COMET CHUNKS pelting off Mars
Odyssey orbiter yet to report, though - comet's trailing trash poses new threat
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.