LONDON — A Raytheon and Lockheed Martin team fired a Javelin missile using a Kongsberg remote launcher on an unmanned ground vehicle, amid an effort by the U.S. Army to determine when and how it will use armed ground robots on the battlefield.
The Titan UGV was built by Qinetiq North America and Estonian company Milrem Robotics.
The mid-June demonstration at the Redstone Arsenal Test Center in Alabama validated the capability, Raytheon’s Brad Fribbs told Defense News in an interview the DSEI defense conference.
Raytheon began putting together the team roughly a year ago, selecting a Milrem robotic ground vehicle that stood out at a Paris-based defense conference for its ability to accept a wide variety of payloads and because of its innovative, clean design, Fribbs said. And the battle tested-Kongsberg remote launcher — the Protector — was selected as well.
The demonstration was targeted for the U.S. Army’s Tank-automotive and Armaments Command’s efforts to examine robotics as a force multiplier, Fribbs said, “so you don’t have to burden the dismounted soldier too much, carry supplies, carry wounded, carry heavy effectors to the fight, so we knew that that was something they were looking for.”
The Army is in the nascent stage of identifying how to use ground robots in combat, and so a system like Raytheon and Lockheed’s will show the service more regarding how such systems can be deployed and what requirements are necessary to shape future programs.
Notably, the team’s demonstration used a weapon system already in the Army’s inventory. The system used a secure radio frequency link to the robot during the demonstration, transmitting and receiving video from the robot and the Kongsberg fire control, Fribbs said.
In the case of the system, a man is always in the loop, as the robot is not autonomous and must be remotely operated.
Army Futures Command is also looking for innovative ways to deploy effectors, especially as the United States continues to focus on Russian deterrence in the European theater and fielding capabilities that overmatch Russian capabilities.
For its part, Russia used Syria as a testing ground for armed ground robots.
Raytheon plans to evolve its efforts to increase dismounted infantry survivability, Fribbs said, “because you have a robotic vehicle you can carry a heavier sensor that has increased detect, recognize and identification (DRI) capabilities.”
Jen Judson is the land warfare reporter for Defense News. She has covered defense in the Washington area for 10 years. She was previously a reporter at Politico and Inside Defense. She won the National Press Club's best analytical reporting award in 2014 and was named the Defense Media Awards' best young defense journalist in 2018.