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    Fort Carson Soldiers Complete Phase I of Next Generation Combat Vehicle Testing

    Fort Carson Soldiers Complete Phase I of Next Generation Combat Vehicle Testing

    Photo By Sgt. Liane Hatch | Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston (middle) remotely drives a pre-prototype...... read more read more

    FORT CARSON, Colorado – Cavalry Soldiers are used to being on the front lines – usually on the battlefield. Over the past month, however, scouts from the 4th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, have been on the front lines of a new Army experiment, utilizing automated robotic combat vehicles to enhance warfighting capability and reduce risk to Soldiers.

    Beginning in early July, Comanche Troop Soldiers began testing and training on two sets of surrogate robotic vehicle systems, each made up of three vehicles: one Mission Enabling Technologies-Demonstrator (MET-D), a Bradley Fighting Vehicle modified to perform as a control vehicle; and two Robotic Control Vehicles (RCVs), modified M113s outfitted with automation, threat detection, and weapons technologies.

    “This is an experiment, and we chose that word very specifically: we have a hypothesis that manned-unmanned teaming will enable Soldiers and leaders to more effectively fight on the battlefield,” said Brig. Gen. Richard Coffman, director of the Next Generation Combat Vehicle Cross-Functional Team.

    “This has nothing to do with robots, nothing to do with technology; it has everything to do with Soldiers and reducing the risk to our men and women. That’s why we’re here,” said Coffman.

    The 4-10 Cavalry Soldiers began their part of the experiment with two weeks of familiarization training, where they learned to operate the systems.

    “We use a pretty familiar form factor based on XBOX controller; if you can play Mario Kart, you can drive a RCV,” said Michael Rose, lead of the manned-unmanned teaming soldier operational experiment.

    From there, the Soldiers moved on to a week-long live fire exercise, and will conclude testing with a two-week situational training exercise to gain a better perspective of how the Army might use these technologies on the battlefield.

    “There’s no handbook on this, so we’re not only assessing the maturity of these technologies, but we’re also writing the playbook on how we are going to fight with robots in the future,” Rose said. “These Soldiers are the first step in that process.”

    The MET-D control vehicles, outfitted with 360-degree cameras, a remote turret with a main gun, and advanced touch-screen technology, utilize a two-person crew rather than the typical three-person crew. Meanwhile, two-person crews operate teach of the two RCVs from the rear of the MET-D. One RCV, equipped with various threat detection technology, acts as the “hunter” variant, while the other RCV, featuring an automated weapon system that can self-correct jams acts as the “killer” variant.

    Throughout testing, Soldiers provided their feedback as they familiarized themselves and interacted with the systems. In addition to providing their input to the immediate supervisors on-site at the Fort Carson training areas, the 4-10 Soldiers also had the opportunity to meet and engage with Gen. John Murray, commanding general of U.S. Army Futures Command and his senior advisor, Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Crosby, Brig. Gen. Coffman, and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston.

    “[Some aspects of the system], I personally wish I could see in every formation across the Army,” said Sgt. Matthew Morris, a scout with 4-10. “It really is a godsend being able to battle track where I am at all times,” he said, likening the interface to using “a JCR on steroids.”

    While the Soldiers were impressed with some of the features and the ease with which they learned to use the systems, the live fire and situational training exercises exposed some sticking points that the Soldiers believe need to be addressed in the next rounds of development.

    The top requests included: improvement in visibility, from optics for sighting threats to camera positioning for detecting terrain; sensory capabilities; and ability to communicate.

    “For me specifically, I think that the ability to see downward once we approach certain inclines and declines would probably be an astute upgrade that would push us forward in the right direction,” Morris said.

    Sgt. Scott Conklin, a scout with 4-10,also noted that moving from at three-Soldier crew to a two-Soldier crew increased workload. Though the two-Soldier crew could handle it, he said, the “frenetic pace” of using the 360-degree cameras presented a challenge.

    Following their engagement with the key leaders and some media outlets, the Soldiers continued to train on the systems for an additional week, conducting situational training exercises.

    Coffman said the next round of unmanned vehicle testing – this time at company level - is scheduled to take place at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2022.



    Date Taken: 08.06.2020
    Date Posted: 09.04.2020 11:02
    Story ID: 375835
    Location: CO, US

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