‘Enemy’ Unmanned Ground Vehicles Are Now Facing-Off Against Army Soldiers In Training

Blocking the road represents another different way Geronimo used the UGVs to help deny enemy movement during the exercise. Both of these use cases also underscore how UGVs can provide additional surveillance capacity or otherwise be a persistent presence at a specific location more generally, which would otherwise take actual troops away from other tasks.

Overall, the employment of the MUTTs during this particular exercise was ostensibly in support of Project Origin’s objectives to explore how the Army itself will employ UGVs in the future. 

“This validated the notion that if we assign the dumb, dirty, dangerous missions to the robots, we can re-assign our Soldiers to the high-priority complex missions and tasks,” Major Cory Wallace, the Robotic Combat Vehicle (RCV) lead within the Army Next Generation Combat Vehicle Cross-Functional Team (NGCV CFT), said of JRTC exercise. “JRTC stressed the systems to their breaking points, allowing us to identify problems that would undoubtedly arise in the future.”

At the same time, it’s hard not to see the OPFOR’s use of UGVs as a reflection of how various countries around the world, including potential adversaries, such as China and Russia, are increasingly developing and fielding their own unmanned ground platforms. Russia has already put a family of UGVs with different tiers of capabilities into limited service. This includes the Uran-9, a mini-tank-like design that has reportedly been field-tested in Syria, which has a primary armament consisting of a 30mm automatic cannon and ATGMs. 

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