AWE 18 Autonomous Warrior (Land) launched at RUSI Land Warfare conference

AWE 18 Launched at RUSI Conference

The Army Warfighting Experiment 2018 Officially Launched at RUSI’s Land Warfare Conference

The Army Warfighting Experiment 2018 (AWE 18) – Autonomous Warrior (Land) – was officially Launched at RUSI’s Land Warfare Conference, 19-20 June.According to the Ministry of Defence, Autonomous Warrior (Land) will push the boundaries of technology and military capability in the land environment.

Challenge of the ‘Last Mile’ Re-Supply

One of the key areas under development is the autonomous ‘last mile’ re-supply. The ‘last mile’ represents the highly dangerous final approach to the combat zone and is crucial to ensuring soldiers have the food, fuel and ammunition to keep them alive and fighting.

AWE 18’s Autonomous Warrior competition will test a range of prototype unmanned aerial and ground cargo vehicles which aim to reduce the danger to troops during combat.

Four-Week Exercise Involving 1st Armoured Infantry Brigade

The British Army is set to launch the four-week exercise on November 12, with a Battlegroup from the 1st Armoured Infantry Brigade (United Kingdom) providing the exercising troops and taking responsibility of command and control.

British soldiers will test and evaluate the effectiveness of robotic and autonomous systems (RAS) on the battlefield.

These technological advances will play a key role in the Army’s Strike capability, ensuring British forces remain unmatched on the global stage.

Defence Minister Mark Lancaster said:

Our Armed Forces continue to push the limits of innovative warfare to ensure that we stay ahead of any adversaries or threats faced on the battlefield.

Autonomous Warrior sets an ambitious vision for Army operations in the 21st Century as we integrate drones, unmanned vehicles and personnel into a world-class force for decades to come.

As well as demonstrating the vehicles during the last mile, Autonomous Warrior will also develop capabilities in surveillance which will greatly improve the effectiveness of long-range and precision targeting by service personnel.

The exercise is the result of a large collaboration between the British Army, Royal Navy, Royal Air Force, US Army, MOD, Dstl and around 50 industry participants.

Chief of the General Staff Highlights Changing Battlespace

The new Chief of the General Staff, Gen Mark Carleton-Smith, who gave his first address in his new role at the conference, set out the backdrop of a “darkening geo-political picture” as he called for British forces to be “combat ready today and prepared for tomorrow”.

Giving the closing address, Gen Carleton-Smith stressed the need for British forces to work with their allies not just in the battlefield, but also in the virtual world. He will warn that “we live in exceptionally unstable times and that the world has never been more unpredictable”.

As he described how “the nature of warfare is broadening beyond the traditional physical domains” he added that the 21st-century battlefield requires non-traditional skills, beyond those normally associated with careers in the Army, to ensure British forces remain world leaders.

Autonomous Warrior (Land) launched at RUSI's Land Warfare Conference (Crown Copyright, 2018)

Autonomous Warrior (Land) launched at RUSI’s Land Warfare Conference (Crown Copyright, 2018)

Gen Mark Carleton-Smith said:

We need a more proactive, threat-based approach to our capability planning, including placing some big bets on those technologies that we judge may offer exponential advantage because given the pace of the race, to fall behind today is to cede an almost unquantifiable advantage from which it might be impossible to recover.

Integrated with the Defence Innovation Fund

Autonomous Warrior will play an integral role within the £800 million Defence Innovation Fund which supports ground-breaking ideas aimed at transforming both defence and British industry.

The land-based exercise follows on from the hugely successful ‘Unmanned Warrior’ which the Royal Navy demonstrated autonomous systems diving, swimming and flying together to engage in surveillance, intelligence-gathering and mine countermeasures.

Army Warfighting Experiment 2018 will focus on robotic and autonomous systems (RAS) (Crown Copyright, 2018)

Army Warfighting Experiment 2018 will focus on robotic and autonomous systems (RAS) (Crown Copyright, 2018)

Featured Image: British Army Dragon Runner Bomb Disposal Robot operating during Exercise Pashtun Links in Jordan by Steve Dock (Crown Copyright, 2012).