Send in the drones! Royal Marine Commandos test swarm of machines controlled from one ground station that take battle to the enemy in the air, on the sea and under the waves
- Royal Marine Commandos have been training with swarm of drones as part of two sets of exercises
- The commandos were carrying out training raids on missile and radar installations in Cumbria and Dorset
- One operator was able to control six medium-heavy lift autonomous drones from a single ground station
Swarms of drones have been operated underwater on the sea and in the air in a first for the UK armed forces.
Royal Marines Commandos have been carrying out the training raids on missile and radar installations both at the Electronic Warfare Tactics facility at RAF Spadeadam in Cumbria and at Lulworth Cove in Dorset.
A navy spokesman said: ‘In a first for UK Defence, a group of six medium-heavy lift drones were operated in one autonomously controlled swarm from a single ground control station.
‘The drones were tasked with tactically re-supplying commandos with everything from ammunition for the assaulting troops, through to blood for combat medics.
Royal Marine Commandos have been training with three new drone systems which operate in the air, on the sea and under water, allowing them to perform risky reconnaissance missions before launching a commando raid
Among the systems tested is the MADFOX un-crewed surface vessel, which can be used to provide deception and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability. The swarms of drones, operating underwater, on the sea and in the air for the first time
The swarms of drones can be used ahead of a commando raid to surreptitiously spy upon an enemy target before an attack
This Malloy TRV150 drone can be used to deliver supplies such as ammunition to Commandos on the battlefield
‘The swarm also demonstrated significant flexibility and switched roles to conduct reconnaissance missions to provide intelligence for commando raids ashore and at sea against a hostile target, when launched from RFA Mounts Bay.
‘The autonomous systems also worked together, being tasked independently to find and identify enemy targets, accurately using their range of increasingly powerful sensors and target acquisition algorithms.’
The trials – named Autonomous Advance Force 4.0 – have the aim of creating a combined human and machines force to create ‘a battlefield advantage’.
The navy spokesman said: ‘The ultimate aim is to seamlessly embed autonomous systems on the front line to support commando forces on the battlefield.
‘These experiments scrutinise tactics and develop knowledge of how the drones can and cannot be used.’
First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Tony Radakin said: ‘Only by continued experimentation with the latest technology and innovation can we properly prepare our people for the challenges of the future.’
Colonel Chris Haw, the officer in charge of the experiments, said: ‘We must always remember that this tech is there to enhance commando excellence, not to replace it.’
These two members of 42 Commando onboard the RFA Mounts Bay are being supported by a Ghost drone, pictured centre
These members of 40 Commando are being monitored by a Ghost Drone, pictured top left, during the exercise