BAE Systems has revealed a future concept of an autonomous combat tank vehicle supported by fleets of smaller autonomous air and ground vehicles, working together in the most demanding combat environments. Whilst soldiers will remain right at the centre of decision-making, the aim is to remove soldiers from some dangers, increasingly using an unmanned network for hazardous tasks.
As well as sharing visual reconnaissance information, the network of autonomous air and ground vehicles would act as an outer perimeter for the main battle tank. To achieve this, the vehicles would engage threats and incoming attacks with on-board weapon stations – using conventional ballistics and countermeasures in the short-term before moving to laser directed energy weapons as they become available. By incorporating ‘friend or foe’ tracking, this perimeter could also protect nearby dismounted troops, detecting and neutralising active threats and concealed IEDs.
With the need to process and quickly react to the growing amount of battlefield information, manned platforms will incorporate more autonomous systems, reducing the cognitive burden on human decision makers.
John Puddy, Technology Lead at BAE Systems Land (UK) explained: “We’re already taking steps to develop the vehicles and systems needed for this future concept. Our new unmanned ground vehicle, Ironclad, is being developed to work autonomously as part of a battlegroup and we’re also integrating unmanned aerial vehicles in current vehicle platforms.”