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The Army is eyeing a robot fighting vehicle to replace the M2 Bradley
The Army has begun shopping around for a robotic armored vehicle that can replace some of the branch's old M-2 Bradley manned fighting vehicles.
The Optionally-Manned Fighting Vehicle could operate with or without a human crew, allowing commanders to deploy the vehicles on missions that are too risky for human beings.
"The next generation of combat vehicles will close the last tactical mile, giving our soldiers a position of advantage," said Brig. Gen. Ross Coffman, who oversees one of the Army's development teams for robotic vehicles.
"Our combat vehicles will have the ability to transition through those disruption zones with lethality and survivability ... [and] mobility, to be able to fight the enemy on our terms and become victorious."
"The OMFV must exceed current capabilities while overmatching similar threat class systems," Coffman told Defense News. "It must be optimized for dense urban areas while also defeating pacing threats on rural terrain."
The Russian army is developing its own robotic vehicles and running experiments in order to develop tactics for deploying the unmanned systems. The new tactics point to Russia's growing determination to field, on the ground and in the air, meaningful numbers of armed robots.
The Kremlin is using the tracked, tank-size Marker ground robot for these tactical experiments. A video the Russian government released in March 2019 depicts a mixed crew of human and robot scouts feeding information to a main force of large, tank-like drones.
Coffman told Defense News the U.S. Army's "threshold requirement" is for a robotic vehicle with a 30-millimeter gun. The "objective requirement" is a 50-millimeter gun. "We want the 50-millimeter," Coffman said, adding that it was more realistic to ask for a 30-millimeter gun.
Two of the unmanned vehicles should fit in one U.S. Air Force C-17 airlifter, the Army stated.
The new vehicles should include only "attainable" technologies, Coffman said. The Army wants to avoid the spiraling costs and repeated delays that have doomed previous efforts to develop new manned and unmanned fighting vehicles.
Most famously, the service's Future Combat Systems -- a network of lightweight, manned and unmanned vehicles -- burned through billions of dollars before then-defense secretary Robert Gates in 2009 canceled it.
Likewise, the Army in 2014 canceled a program to replace the 1980s-vintage M-2 after the new vehicle's design grew too big, heavy and expensive.
The service's March 2019 request for proposals from industry formally begins a competition for prototype designs. The Army expects in mid-2020 to choose up to two industry teams to build 14 prototypes.
To pay for the robotic vehicle and other new equipment, in its 2020 budget proposal the Army asked Congress for permission to slow, shrink or cancel hundreds of other programs. The Army's $190-billion budget request, which represents an $8-billion boost compared to the branch's 2019 budget, channels $9 billion into six main development efforts, including new vehicles.
The Army in 2020 plans to test experimental robots in order to gather data that could inform the wider program to acquire unmanned vehicles. "We're doing these experiments to test a series of hypotheses," Coffman said.
Some initial testing took place as early as 2017. An armed, robotic M-113 tracked armored vehicle provided covering fire for soldiers during a summer 2017 war game in Michigan.
For the exercise, engineers added a remotely-controlled machine gun to a remotely-controlled M-113. The operators of the M-113 and its machine gun followed behind the drone in an M-577 command vehicle, issuing commands via radio.
The 2017 test represented a turning point for the Army. "We're at the point of heightened expectations and we're at the trough of disillusionment," Paul Rodgers, director of the Army's Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center, said of the war game.
Coffman said the first 2020 trial would involve soldiers in two "surrogate vehicles" remotely controlling a set of robots that "bear a resemblance to the M-113 armored personnel carrier," according to Defense News.
The second experiment, in 2021, would involve three times as many robots and control vehicles, Coffman said.
This article originally appeared on The National Interest.
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‘Take what’s inside and get it outside’ — Air Force psychologist reminds airmen of mental health resources
Kirtland Air Force Base isn't much different from the world beyond its gates when it comes to dealing with mental illnesses, a base clinical psychologist says.
Maj. Benjamin Carter told the Journal the most frequent diagnosis on the base is an anxiety disorder.
"It's not a surprise, but I anticipate about anytime in the population in America, about 20% of the population has some form of diagnosable anxiety disorder, and it's no different in the military," he said.
Leading the way among the anxiety disorders, he said, were post-traumatic stress disorder "or something like panic disorder or generalized anxiety disorder."
The DNA of a niece and nephew, who never met their uncle, has helped identify the remains of the Kansas Marine who died in WWII.
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced that 21-year-old U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Pfc. Raymond Warren was identified using DNA and circumstantial evidence. Warren had been buried in a cemetery in the Gilbert Islands, where he was killed when U.S. forces tried to take secure one of the islands from the Japanese.
The Battle of Tarawa lasted from Nov. 20 to Nov. 23, 1943, and claimed the lives of 1,021 U.S. marines and sailors, more than 3,000 Japanese soldiers and an estimated 1,000 Korean laborers before the U.S. troops seized control, the agency said.
Arizona lawmakers are vowing to fight a plan by the Air Force to start retiring some of the nation's fleet of A-10 Thunderbolt II ground-attack jets — a major operation at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base — as part of a plan to drop some older, legacy weapon systems to help pay for new programs.
U.S. Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., a former A-10 pilot, and U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., both vowed to fight the move to retire 44 of the oldest A-10s starting this year.
During a press briefing last week, Air Force officials unveiled plans to start mothballing several older platforms, including retiring some A-10s even as it refits others with new wings.
MOSCOW/SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea, whose leader Kim Jong Un was filmed riding through the snow on a white stallion last year, has spent tens of thousands of dollars on 12 purebred horses from Russia, according to Russian customs data.
Accompanied by senior North Korean figures, Kim took two well-publicized rides on the snowy slopes of the sacred Paektu Mountain in October and December.
State media heralded the jaunts as important displays of strength in the face of international pressure and the photos of Kim astride a galloping white steed were seen around the world.
North Korea has a long history of buying pricey horses from Russia and customs data first reported by Seoul-based NK News suggests that North Korea may have bolstered its herd in October.
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - A high-profile local Taliban figure who announced and justified the 2012 attack on teenage Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai has escaped detention, Pakistan's interior minister confirmed a few days after the militant announced his breakout on social media.
Former Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan, who claimed responsibility on behalf of his group for scores of Taliban attacks, proclaimed his escape on Twitter and then in an audio message sent to Pakistani media earlier this month.
The Pakistani military, which had kept Ehsan in detention for three years, has declined to comment but, asked by reporters about the report, Interior Minister Ijaz Shah, said: "That is correct, that is correct."
Shah, a retired brigadier general, added that "you will hear good news" in response to questions about whether there had been progress in hunting down Ehsan.