Australian Army Discussions and Updates

Takao

The Bunker Group
When all said and done no one vehicle or asset is perfect for recon in the modern battlefield let alone over the last couple of decades had we been up against a peer enemy. Go to ok small for speed, mobility and agility as historically required of recon vehicles and modern guided man portable munitions can rip them apart, go to large and they can stand out more. Just comes down to needing assets across various size classes that if needed can be up gunned allowing leadership options so they can pick what is best for the situation. The days of one asset for one role are long gone.
@vonnoobie - are you suggesting we should fight as a combined arms team. Que shock and horror! :D
 

old faithful

The Bunker Group
Verified Defense Pro
I suspect a lot of the future recon role will be undertaken with both ground and aerial UAV assests.
That's not to say a manned vehicle will not have a place.

While the Boxer looks an an impressive beast , so will the winner of Land 400 Phase three..
For lighter motorised operations, I can see the Hawkei / Bushmaster combination fulfilling the wide range of tasks within a reinforced battalion size battle group, including the reconnaissance element.
For heavy operations of a battalion sized battle group made up of heavy things on tracks, then maybe the vehicle in the recon role should be an IFV.
Boxer will not have too dissimilar size to the winning IFV, which in this day and age will have the impressive combination of cross country speed / Armour and fire power.

Not sure where to place the Boxer today and into the future.

Maybe not recon, but rather embedded in the Motorized battalions as a fire support asset.
Or maybe something else?????
As has been mentioned, if we re did Land 400 Phase Two today, what would we request.

Boxer......a capable beast looking for a role ??????


Regards S
Load em up with armoured corp veges, and call em "Assault Troopers"......wait, they did that in the 80's.
They could easily train some more Armoured corp veges though, put them through a specific corp recon course, and also use them as a QRF type unit to supplement the motorised RAR, as well as use them in recon role when a heavier vehicle is required.
 

ADMk2

Just a bloke
Staff member
Verified Defense Pro
I suspect a lot of the future recon role will be undertaken with both ground and aerial UAV assests.
That's not to say a manned vehicle will not have a place.

While the Boxer looks an an impressive beast , so will the winner of Land 400 Phase three..
For lighter motorised operations, I can see the Hawkei / Bushmaster combination fulfilling the wide range of tasks within a reinforced battalion size battle group, including the reconnaissance element.
For heavy operations of a battalion sized battle group made up of heavy things on tracks, then maybe the vehicle in the recon role should be an IFV.
Boxer will not have too dissimilar size to the winning IFV, which in this day and age will have the impressive combination of cross country speed / Armour and fire power.

Not sure where to place the Boxer today and into the future.

Maybe not recon, but rather embedded in the Motorized battalions as a fire support asset.
Or maybe something else?????
As has been mentioned, if we re did Land 400 Phase Two today, what would we request.

Boxer......a capable beast looking for a role ??????


Regards S
Boxer in the Australian context is as a Cavalry vehicle, not just a recon vehicle. Recon is one of the roles of a Cav vehicle, but not the only one. Screening, escort, fire support, security operations and limited assault operations all form part of the Cavalry job, in addition to recon.

When you consider all of that you realise why big, heavy and heavily armed vehicles like Boxer were all that were considered rather than lighter dedicated recon vehicles...
 

Raven22

The Bunker Group
Verified Defense Pro
What is the current feedback on the Hawkei ? Not a lot out there about it and has been pretty quiet since the Steyr Motors drama, which I am assuming has been sorted ? I do recall Thales stepping in at some stage and putting some money up ?

What sort of vehicle to you think an updated Ph2 would like ?

Cheers
I haven’t had anything to do with Hawkei since the trials in Townsville a couple of years ago. I imagine the problems have been solved, as they weren’t huge to begin with and the program wouldn’t be allowed to fail.

As to the solution for Phase 2, as I think I’ve said a few times I think the best solution would be a vehicle around the 20 - 25 tonne mark. The Boxer is the result of passive protection having an unreasonably high priority - which stems from learning the wrong lessons from Iraq/Afghanistan. However, by mandating the vehicle have such a high level of protection, while also mandating they must be MOTS vehicles (which means they must be adapted IFVs), the solution was always going to be huge and heavy.

Huge is a problem though, as while it means they are great in a fight, it also means they are pretty terrible at getting to the fight. Their strategic and operational mobility is much poorer, and the logistic tail to sustain them much greater. But, as anyone who has read any book at all would tell you, mobility is by far the biggest asset for the cavalry. The whole point of the cavalry is to avoid enemy strengths and threaten weaknesses. If the cavalry is doing it’s job properly, it shouldn’t be decisively engaged at all. By prioritising protection over mobility to such an extent, the entire purpose of cavalry is ignored.

A good analogy is the Wermacht on the Eastern Front in WWII. The Germans conducted Barbarossa with Panzer IIIs and Panzer IVs being their best tanks. While these were out classed by the T-34 in a fight, they were extremely reliable, could travel huge distances on their own tracks, and required a relatively small logistics tail. The result is well known - the Panzer divisions penetrated deep behind Soviet lines, shattered the cohesion of the Soviets, and enveloped and destroyed entire armies in massive cauldron battles. The fact the Panzer IIIs and IVs couldn’t outfight a T-34 didn’t matter.

However, the Nazi technocrats learned the wrong lessons and wanted tanks that outclassed the T-34. The result of course was the Tiger and Panther. These were great tanks in a fight, but they were very unreliable, couldn’t travel large distances on their own tracks, and needed a relatively huge logistic tail to keep in the fight. As a result, the Panzer divisions could no longer conduct their previously successful tactics of penetration and envelopment. They were now locked in to a battle of attrition with the Soviets, pitting tank against tank in conventional fights. There was no way the Nazis could outproduce the Soviets, and they lost.

The lesson here is clear, looking at a vehicle purely on its technical merits in a fight, and ignoring the context in which it is employed, risks missing the point entirely. It’s the same with Boxer. It doesn’t matter that it will outclass the opposition on a battlefield if it is too big and heavy to get there in the first place. The renewed focus on our region exacerbates this issue. The type of conflict in the region won’t involve huge fights of armour against armour. In the land domain it will largely be a conflict of preemption - one side or the other seizing key terrain to shape the fight in the maritime and air domains. Clearly, strategic and operational mobility here is key. The risk is the Boxer is just too big to get to the fight, and sustain it in the fight. The fact that it is a technically better vehicle than a 20 - 25 tonne vehicle becomes irrelevant at that point - an inferior vehicle is better than no vehicle at all.

This is the utility of the Hawkei. It is inferior to the Boxer in pretty much every technical category that can be measured, but it has the advantage of having a 10 tonne combat weight and not a >35 tonne combat weight. It therefore provides options to the Army and Government that the Boxer can not. Of course, that doesn’t mean we should scrap Boxer and buy nothing but Hawkei. The cavalry still need a vehicle that has the combat power to focus the attention of the enemy, and the Hawkei doesn’t do that. However, a cavalry capability that is nothing but Boxer might struggle for relevance over the coming decades.
 

ASSAIL

The Bunker Group
Verified Defense Pro
It seems that Army has found yet another way to utilise their venerable APCs.
Converting some to OCVs (Optionally Crewed Vehicles) is another step in the ADF’s advancing robotic strategy.
I would assume there would be no plan to convert large numbers in the future and progression towards a purpose built platform will follow.... although these old machines have a habit of sticking around.
Any comment from those much better informed than me?


Government investing in Army’s autonomous vehicles - APDR
 

Boagrius

Well-Known Member
It seems that Army has found yet another way to utilise their venerable APCs.
Converting some to OCVs (Optionally Crewed Vehicles) is another step in the ADF’s advancing robotic strategy.
I would assume there would be no plan to convert large numbers in the future and progression towards a purpose built platform will follow.... although these old machines have a habit of sticking around.
Any comment from those much better informed than me?


Government investing in Army’s autonomous vehicles - APDR
Like you, I'd be happy to defer to those with relevant expertise here, but the idea of using a remote-controlled APC has me scratching my head. AFAIK the range of the command links used for UGVs is generally extremely short (eg. somewhere in the region of ~500m for the Russian Uran-9 IIRC) which makes sense given the difficulty associated with maintaining a clear line of sight between the controller and UGV on terra firma. I could maybe see cheap, disposable UGVs being used as a forward screen for more substantial manned assets but beyond that, not so sure..?
 

oldsig127

The Bunker Group
Verified Defense Pro
Like you, I'd be happy to defer to those with relevant expertise here, but the idea of using a remote-controlled APC has me scratching my head. AFAIK the range of the command links used for UGVs is generally extremely short (eg. somewhere in the region of ~500m for the Russian Uran-9 IIRC) which makes sense given the difficulty associated with maintaining a clear line of sight between the controller and UGV on terra firma. I could maybe see cheap, disposable UGVs being used as a forward screen for more substantial manned assets but beyond that, not so sure..?
Same caveat, but autonomous is not entirely the same as remote controlled. One example I have seen promoted is for autonomous vehicles to trail crewed vehicles or dismounted troops providing resupply. Remotely controlled vehicles are already used for this purpose, but with AI developing at the current rate and the move to networking everyone and everything it's not impossible to envision an intelligent resupply positioning itself where it's most needed without any direct human intervention - perhaps by learning through the network where (for example) where most of the Spike missiles have been expended

oldsig
 

kato

The Bunker Group
Verified Defense Pro
(not specifically Australian planning, but how this kinda thing is used)

it's not impossible to envision an intelligent resupply positioning itself where it's most needed without any direct human intervention
Conceptual ideas run more towards platooning (and yes, that is a term) of vehicles for logistics purposes, i.e. supply convoys with a single control vehicle and multiple unmanned vehicles following. Intention behind this is mainly to lower manpower requirements in logistics. There's a recent RAND study for the US on that.

Long-term concepts i've seen go towards similar platooning of special-purpose armoured vehicles around a control vehicle primarily for transfer, such as bridgelayers or mineclearing vehicles. Think about this also as transfer of APCs, e.g. to a FOB where infantry needs to be evacuated.
 
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Toptob

Active Member
Well if you have them and you need something to experiment with anyway... the M113 seems like a perfect choice. They can convert some to OCCV to refine your systems and tactics to make even more good use of these venerable old machines. And in an emergency they would have a bunch more that they could convert into a robot army.

And if you don't have to put people in them there's a lot of tasks that the M113 could perform again because crew survivability wouldn't be an issue anymore. But the biggest bonus is that there are a lot of other current and former operators of the M113 everywhere. I know it's only a research program, but it could be an easy entry into unmanned operations for poorer operators. Or a 2nd or 3rd or 4th life for the fleets of richer countries that are just stingy.

I think it totally makes sense that Australia is at the forefront of autonomous combat like the loyal wingman program. It's a big country with relatively few people. But even though it totally makes sense for Australia, it makes just as much sense in for instance the Netherlands which is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Because we both face a situation where the military has problems attracting and retaining personnel.

And while I'm normally a sceptical bastard that needs to see it to believe it, who would point to the Russian experiences in Syria to say that there's a long way to go. I think that advancements in autonomous operations have and are going at such a pace that all manner of autonomous vehicles will be very effective, even in high end combat. Developments in Libya and Syria where reasonably unsophisticated forces are using all kinds of drones at a very high level, even doing a lot of strikes.

It would be cool to see these things in the field sooner rather than later.
 

Morgo

Member
I haven’t had anything to do with Hawkei since the trials in Townsville a couple of years ago. I imagine the problems have been solved, as they weren’t huge to begin with and the program wouldn’t be allowed to fail.

As to the solution for Phase 2, as I think I’ve said a few times I think the best solution would be a vehicle around the 20 - 25 tonne mark. The Boxer is the result of passive protection having an unreasonably high priority - which stems from learning the wrong lessons from Iraq/Afghanistan. However, by mandating the vehicle have such a high level of protection, while also mandating they must be MOTS vehicles (which means they must be adapted IFVs), the solution was always going to be huge and heavy.

Huge is a problem though, as while it means they are great in a fight, it also means they are pretty terrible at getting to the fight. Their strategic and operational mobility is much poorer, and the logistic tail to sustain them much greater. But, as anyone who has read any book at all would tell you, mobility is by far the biggest asset for the cavalry. The whole point of the cavalry is to avoid enemy strengths and threaten weaknesses. If the cavalry is doing it’s job properly, it shouldn’t be decisively engaged at all. By prioritising protection over mobility to such an extent, the entire purpose of cavalry is ignored.

A good analogy is the Wermacht on the Eastern Front in WWII. The Germans conducted Barbarossa with Panzer IIIs and Panzer IVs being their best tanks. While these were out classed by the T-34 in a fight, they were extremely reliable, could travel huge distances on their own tracks, and required a relatively small logistics tail. The result is well known - the Panzer divisions penetrated deep behind Soviet lines, shattered the cohesion of the Soviets, and enveloped and destroyed entire armies in massive cauldron battles. The fact the Panzer IIIs and IVs couldn’t outfight a T-34 didn’t matter.

However, the Nazi technocrats learned the wrong lessons and wanted tanks that outclassed the T-34. The result of course was the Tiger and Panther. These were great tanks in a fight, but they were very unreliable, couldn’t travel large distances on their own tracks, and needed a relatively huge logistic tail to keep in the fight. As a result, the Panzer divisions could no longer conduct their previously successful tactics of penetration and envelopment. They were now locked in to a battle of attrition with the Soviets, pitting tank against tank in conventional fights. There was no way the Nazis could outproduce the Soviets, and they lost.

The lesson here is clear, looking at a vehicle purely on its technical merits in a fight, and ignoring the context in which it is employed, risks missing the point entirely. It’s the same with Boxer. It doesn’t matter that it will outclass the opposition on a battlefield if it is too big and heavy to get there in the first place. The renewed focus on our region exacerbates this issue. The type of conflict in the region won’t involve huge fights of armour against armour. In the land domain it will largely be a conflict of preemption - one side or the other seizing key terrain to shape the fight in the maritime and air domains. Clearly, strategic and operational mobility here is key. The risk is the Boxer is just too big to get to the fight, and sustain it in the fight. The fact that it is a technically better vehicle than a 20 - 25 tonne vehicle becomes irrelevant at that point - an inferior vehicle is better than no vehicle at all.

This is the utility of the Hawkei. It is inferior to the Boxer in pretty much every technical category that can be measured, but it has the advantage of having a 10 tonne combat weight and not a >35 tonne combat weight. It therefore provides options to the Army and Government that the Boxer can not. Of course, that doesn’t mean we should scrap Boxer and buy nothing but Hawkei. The cavalry still need a vehicle that has the combat power to focus the attention of the enemy, and the Hawkei doesn’t do that. However, a cavalry capability that is nothing but Boxer might struggle for relevance over the coming decades.
This has clear implications for the additional amphibious lift capability announced in the Force Structure Plan.

When the LHDs aren't involved, what will be the standard unit of capability that we would expect to move around the archipelago to our north? What is a reasonably sized, relatively autonomous force that we could rapidly deploy, sustain and withdraw, and would have enough combat weight to make a difference?

Is it:

1) A platoon of motorised infantry
2) A company of motorised infantry
3) A company of motorised infantry plus a platoon of mechanised infantry
4) A company of mechanised infantry
5) Something else? Surely not Abrams unless by exception due to the logistical trail.

This choice will then drive the size of the ships acquired. Personally I think something like #3 feels about right, which would dictate fewer, larger, longer endurance platforms.

And what about supporting elements, like SPGs and helos? And if motorised only, what does this mean for the platform that the new GBAD capability would be mounted on, which would be essential if you're going to leave a few hundred soldiers on a rock somewhere for anything but basic peacekeeping?

Much to think about.
 

Raven22

The Bunker Group
Verified Defense Pro
I think it totally makes sense that Australia is at the forefront of autonomous combat like the loyal wingman program. It's a big country with relatively few people. But even though it totally makes sense for Australia, it makes just as much sense in for instance the Netherlands which is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Because we both face a situation where the military has problems attracting and retaining personnel.
I think we are still a long way from a situation where unmanned ground vehicles of any type actually saves personnel. Even if the M113s are only doing very simple autonomous tasks, like following a manned vehicle to conduct logistic resupply as has been mooted here, there will still be lots of humans needed to keep that vehicle running. Humans will still be need to maintain the vehicle (conduct maintenance and servicing, refuel the vehicle, bash track, fix the autonomous systems when they inevitably break etc), load the vehicle at one end of the journey, unload the vehicle at the other end, recover the vehicle when it breaks down or get bogged etc. Those humans might not be in the M113 any more, but they will be somewhere. The experience from UAVs is that unmanned aircraft actually take more personnel to sustain than manned aircraft.

I must admit, I am a big skeptic when it comes to unmanned ground vehicles. They are great for niche applications, but I think it will be a very long time before general purpose ground forces are being replaced by unmanned anythings. There is a big difference between demonstrating some limited utility in a controlled trial where the primary purpose is to get governments to give big corporations money, and having a capability that is useful in the chaotic and uncontrolled conditions of a real battlefield.
 

Takao

The Bunker Group
This has clear implications for the additional amphibious lift capability announced in the Force Structure Plan.

When the LHDs aren't involved, what will be the standard unit of capability that we would expect to move around the archipelago to our north? What is a reasonably sized, relatively autonomous force that we could rapidly deploy, sustain and withdraw, and would have enough combat weight to make a difference?

Is it:

1) A platoon of motorised infantry
2) A company of motorised infantry
3) A company of motorised infantry plus a platoon of mechanised infantry
4) A company of mechanised infantry
5) Something else? Surely not Abrams unless by exception due to the logistical trail.

This choice will then drive the size of the ships acquired. Personally I think something like #3 feels about right, which would dictate fewer, larger, longer endurance platforms.

And what about supporting elements, like SPGs and helos? And if motorised only, what does this mean for the platform that the new GBAD capability would be mounted on, which would be essential if you're going to leave a few hundred soldiers on a rock somewhere for anything but basic peacekeeping?

Much to think about.
Without Adelaide or Canberra? Including sustainment? Against a low threat - a company of motorised inf. Against a high threat? Maybe a Pl. Either begs the question - why? Why would we deploy that? Note that is a Coy, not a combat team. So it's pretty close to useless. No armour, limited fire support, no aviation support....blergh.

The reality is that we will always needs ships to deploy. Moving ammunition and fuel by air is about the worst way to move that as possible. Furthermore, unless it's HADR, we know that a BG is the smallest force we would actually deploy thanks (mainly) to its C2. Even then the BG will need external support pretty damn quickly - especially if they take casualties. The ADF's planning land unit of action is a Brigade. We have to be able to sustain that. A Bde is the smallest you can do for any reasonable amount of time.

The ships hence need to be able to support that. Which is ok, perhaps Adelaide or Canberra will be replaced by bigger units. Or we get additional sea lift (or at least access). There isn't anything wrong with that. But the critical bit comes in the link between the SPOE and SPOD. This needs to be reduced as much as possible. Obviously geographically is....hard....but we can effectively do it by getting more ships, bigger ships or faster ships. Any of these also reduces the amount of escorts and lowers the risk.

All of which begs some really interesting questions about the USMC and some Army ideas to use small groups of inf + long range missiles on Pacific islands and the feasibility of such an idea.....
 

cdxbow

Active Member
I think we are still a long way from a situation where unmanned ground vehicles of any type actually saves personnel. Even if the M113s are only doing very simple autonomous tasks, like following a manned vehicle to conduct logistic resupply as has been mooted here, there will still be lots of humans needed to keep that vehicle running. Humans will still be need to maintain the vehicle (conduct maintenance and servicing, refuel the vehicle, bash track, fix the autonomous systems when they inevitably break etc), load the vehicle at one end of the journey, unload the vehicle at the other end, recover the vehicle when it breaks down or get bogged etc. Those humans might not be in the M113 any more, but they will be somewhere. The experience from UAVs is that unmanned aircraft actually take more personnel to sustain than manned aircraft.

I must admit, I am a big skeptic when it comes to unmanned ground vehicles. They are great for niche applications, but I think it will be a very long time before general purpose ground forces are being replaced by unmanned anythings. There is a big difference between demonstrating some limited utility in a controlled trial where the primary purpose is to get governments to give big corporations money, and having a capability that is useful in the chaotic and uncontrolled conditions of a real battlefield.
I think you are going to be surprised how quickly they are adopted. Most of the technology already exists and working out what type of platforms and how you will use is really the next step. Repurposing the M113 is a brilliant idea.

aussienscale - I think it's a Ghost Robotic robot - Do Robot Dogs Dream Of Australian Warfare I don't know what the relationship is between Boston Dynamics and Ghost Robotics is. if any.
 

Todjaeger

Potstirrer
I think you are going to be surprised how quickly they are adopted. Most of the technology already exists and working out what type of platforms and how you will use is really the next step. Repurposing the M113 is a brilliant idea.

aussienscale - I think it's a Ghost Robotic robot - Do Robot Dogs Dream Of Australian Warfare I don't know what the relationship is between Boston Dynamics and Ghost Robotics is. if any.
As someone that (unfortunately) works with robots on a daily basis... I remain skeptical that there will be widespread adoption for field use any time soon.

It is also why I get so concerned about the prospect of people relying upon self-driving vehicles, because with something mobile and robotic, it unfortunately cannot function better than the sum of it's parts.

There is an old programming adage which is an offshoot of a much older adage, it goes like this;
"to err is human, to really err get a computer..."

In some respects, autonomous or semi-autonomous UAV and USV drones work, because once the drone gets to altitude/depth, unless it is very near the surface of the earth of seafloor there is little for a drone to need to change direction for in terms of terrain. Similarly, there usually little in the way of other vessels/vehicles transiting through the same space creating a collision risk. As has been observed following certain traffic accidents in the US, some cars which were driving using autopilot (in one case the driver was watching a Harry Potter film instead of monitoring the autopilot IIRC) have caused accidents due to failures in recognizing route changes and the need to adjust course. All because a lane was closed for construction and the autopilot failed to 'see' the temporary road closure barriers and then failed to stop in time from colliding with a vehicle barrier.

If the expectation that a driverless military vehicle was to be expected to operate in the field, I would expect that both the sensors and decision-making systems would need to be substantially better than which is currently being tested for use on paved roads.
 

cdxbow

Active Member
As someone that (unfortunately) works with robots on a daily basis... I remain skeptical that there will be widespread adoption for field use any time soon.

It is also why I get so concerned about the prospect of people relying upon self-driving vehicles, because with something mobile and robotic, it unfortunately cannot function better than the sum of it's parts.

There is an old programming adage which is an offshoot of a much older adage, it goes like this;
"to err is human, to really err get a computer..."

In some respects, autonomous or semi-autonomous UAV and USV drones work, because once the drone gets to altitude/depth, unless it is very near the surface of the earth of seafloor there is little for a drone to need to change direction for in terms of terrain. Similarly, there usually little in the way of other vessels/vehicles transiting through the same space creating a collision risk. As has been observed following certain traffic accidents in the US, some cars which were driving using autopilot (in one case the driver was watching a Harry Potter film instead of monitoring the autopilot IIRC) have caused accidents due to failures in recognizing route changes and the need to adjust course. All because a lane was closed for construction and the autopilot failed to 'see' the temporary road closure barriers and then failed to stop in time from colliding with a vehicle barrier.

If the expectation that a driverless military vehicle was to be expected to operate in the field, I would expect that both the sensors and decision-making systems would need to be substantially better than which is currently being tested for use on paved roads.
I share your concerns about autonomous vehicles in more complex environments like driving in a city cf space, air and undersea. Nonetheless a lot of progress has been made in the drive (pardon the pun) to develop autonomous road vehicles and the speed of it has surprised me greatly. The big enabler has been real time visual pattern recognition using machine learning. This area has gone gangbusters in the last decade with cheap powerful CPU's combined with some sort of 'visual processor' with machine learning algorithms. It enables the PRC to run it's horrendous surveillance project, a missile to identify and select the best target, or someone rich to relax and read the stock report on the way to work in their autonomous car. Paradigm changing across many areas.

I take your point about the many accidents from autonomous vehicles, however even in these early days it works impressively well. I didn't think I would see this in my lifetime.

I think having control options for larger vehicles will be the way it evolves, eg manned, remote and autonomous. The autonomy side improves with time as it learns, more analogous to biological learning than simply operating a machine. There are so many advantages to using a machine in the DDD jobs that it will come to pass, quicker than most think. Brilliant project by the Army.
 

AndyinOz

New Member
I believe that the robot in question is the V.60 model from Ghost Robotics. If the video I recall seeing online is anything to go by the army has been playing with them for a while and relatively open about it.
 

vonnoobie

Well-Known Member
Like most technologies it will continue to mature over the years till it is at a tipping point and is acquired in mass by every man and his dog. It isn't their yet but it is close. We should continue our R&D into it not just improving the tech but working out how best it will fit into our operational use. Easy enough to say we will have a whole heap of spare M113's but wasted funds if we do that before tech is truly ready and actually working out if autonomous M113's will work with our future force.

That said let's be careful about relying on this tech too much, as good as it is as a force multiplier I have found the more tech advances the stupider people in general become. Rather not have an ADF that relies so much on all of this that they won't have a clue what to do when/if it fails.
 

Raven22

The Bunker Group
Verified Defense Pro
I think you are going to be surprised how quickly they are adopted. Most of the technology already exists and working out what type of platforms and how you will use is really the next step. Repurposing the M113 is a brilliant idea.
I don’t think I will be surprised. Without repeating a rant from another forum, I have had a bit to do with unmanned programs in a couple of different nations, and the experience of each is the same - there is a big difference between the promises of industry and reality. Technology that works (at least most of the time) in a controlled trial cant be relied upon when applied to the realities of the battlefield, outside of niche applications.

The experience of every current program is that unmanned vehicles are less efficient than manned ones. By less efficient, I mean they take more holistic effort to achieve the same capability. This is the same as the experience of UAS in the air domain. In some applications this can be accepted, and we are seeing unmanned vehicles in these niche applications come into service. However, if it takes more holistic effort to achieve the same capability with unmanned vehicles it is going to be a long time before they start replacing, or even supplementing on a large scale, general purpose ground forces.

Comparisons with other technologies are instructive. It is now more than six decades since it was confidently announced the manned fighter aircraft was obsolete, and yet the next generation of fighters will be manned. And that, as Todjaeger said, is in an environment that already has large numbers of humans supporting each aircraft, and where once you take off there is nothing for the unmanned vehicle to bump into.

The supposed revolution in military affairs is another great example. 20 - 30 years ago the idea was that advances in technology would mean that commanders at every level would have almost a perfect understanding of the operating environment, and therefore be able to apply precise and lethal fires to quickly win wars. That certainly hasn’t happened. Experience shows that, in the areas that matter, commanders these days aren’t any better informed than those of history. They may have more information in total, but the accuracy and prevalence of the information they rely on to make decisions has not improved. In fact, by many measures, things have gone backwards. Technology for technology’s sake does not help to win wars.

I look forwards to decades of confident announcements from industry and government public relations that the large scale roll out of unmanned vehicles is just around the corner.
 
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