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The Army Is Finally Engineering A Wingman Who Won’t Screw Soldiers Over
Your wingman is your boy, your best friend, your partner, and your comrade in arms, ready to have your back under any circumstances. But while the role of “wingman” comes with a ton of complicated connotations in military aviation, it has a more sinister one for ground-pounders: Half the time, your wingman is really just Jody in disguise, lying in wait to ball your one true love while your back is turned.
Luckily, the Army is working on building a stronger, faster, less-cuckhappy wingman to have soldiers’ backs downrange. This wingman comes in the form of a specially-outfitted Humvee packing a 7.62mm weapon system — an M240 machine gun or M134 Gatling-style minigun — gussied up with autonomous target tracking and detection sensors and piloted either autonomously or remotely by a fellow soldier. The only thing this bad boy is built to fuck up is militants.
The two-vehicle set in the "Wingman" Joint Capability Technology Demonstration program includes a robotic vehicle, pictured here, and command and control vehicle.U.S. Army/Keith Briggs/TARDEC Ground Vehicle Robotics
As part of the Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center’s "Wingman" Joint Capability Technology Demonstration, engineers are working overtime to “qualify an autonomous combat vehicle on a gunnery range in the coming month.” Sure, the branch has been working to better mesh robotic assets with ground forces downrange for years. But this $20 million program aims to produce an autonomous battle-wagon capable of enhancing ground forces’ lethality and range in the next three years.
Among the most important updates offered by the Wingman is the (ARDEC) remote-controlled Advanced Remote Armament System, an electric gun turret designed to eliminate the jamming issues posed by the traditional gas-operated M240.
"Obviously if you're a kilometer away from your vehicle, jams are not good," program deputy chief Thomas B. Udvare said in an Army statement on Jan 31. "What's nice about their electrically-driven system is that the incidents of jamming are greatly reduced."
The Autonomous Remote Engagement System, which is mounted on the Picatinny Lightweight Remote Weapon System and coupled with an M240B machine gun, is a subsystem of the Wingman program that reduces the time to identify targets using vision-based automatic target detection and user-specified target selection.U.S. Army/Keith Briggs/TARDEC Ground Vehicle Robotics
Don’t worry: These upgunned Humvees won’t be completely autonomous just yet. The current Wingman setup involves two soldiers, one to monitor the ARAS and another to actually pull the trigger, ensuring that fire control remains in human hands at all time.
"You're not going to have these systems go out there like in The Terminator," Udvare said. "For the foreseeable future, you will always have a soldier in the loop.” Which, well, good, because no way I’m leaving a wingman alone, no matter how metal and car-shaped he may be. I mean, have you seen Knight Rider? Jesus.
When soldiers might see their new wingman bound over horizon, like virtually all other complicated weapons systems, remains to be seen: According to the Army, engineers plan on taking the platform for a spin on the Scout Gunnery Table VI course, normally used to qualify ground combat vehicles teams for more complicated exercises — a milestone Udvare described as “a beginning point to start to assess these platforms and drive technology."
But should the trials go well, soldiers (and, in time, infantry Marines) could have a chance to bond with their new wingman by October 2018. And should the Humvees prove effective in larger warfighting exercises, the complicated auto-targeting subsystems developed by TARDEC could see broader testing with the Army’s fleet of M113 armored personnel carrier and their beastly .50-cal heavy machine guns.
“We’re definitely exploring all of the possibilities,” TARDEC chief Paul Rogers said in the Army statement. “We’re optimizing the different options based on what we believe will have the greatest value for our operating force in the future.” Hell, as long as he doesn’t jam downrange, the JCTD can be my wingman any day.
WASHINGTON/RIYADH (Reuters) - President Donald Trump imposed new U.S. sanctions onIran on Monday following Tehran's downing of an unmanned American drone and said the measures would target Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Trump told reporters he was signing an executive order for the sanctions amid tensions between the United States and Iran that have grown since May, when Washington ordered all countries to halt imports of Iranian oil.
Trump also said the sanctions would have been imposed regardless of the incident over the drone. He said the supreme leaders was ultimately responsible for what Trump called "the hostile conduct of the regime."
"Sanctions imposed through the executive order ... will deny the Supreme Leader and the Supreme Leader's office, and those closely affiliated with him and the office, access to key financial resources and support," Trump said.
While it can be difficult to peg down just how star-spangled a state is, one indicator is the rate at which citizens enlist in the military, especially during the United States' longest period of sustained conflict. At least, that's the thinking behind WalletHub's new study, 2019's Most Patriotic States in America.
Trump's 'red flags' on Mattis included 'controversial statements' and alleged leniency on war crimes
President Donald Trump may have loved to call former Secretary of Defense James Mattis by his much-loathed "Mad Dog" nickname, but his own transition team had concerns regarding the former Marine general's infamous battlefield missives and his lackluster handling of alleged war crimes committed by U.S. service members, according to leaked vetting documents.
Beloved readers: It's been a rough week inside the Five-Sided Fun House as it looked like the United States and Iran were on a collision course until President Donald Trump aborted planned air and missile strikes at the eleventh hour.
As your beleaguered friend and narrator writes this, the Pentagon has not scheduled any briefings about how close the U.S. military was to attacking Iran, or even if those strikes have been called off or are on hold.
It would be nice to know whether we are at war or not. One would think the headquarters of the U.S. military would be a good place to find out. But the Trump administration has one spokesman: the president himself. His tweets have replaced Pentagon's briefings as the primary source for military news.
Trump passed on Petraeus for top White House positions over 'red flags' like his opposition to torture, according to leaked documents
Former Army Gen. David Petraeus, the former commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan who resigned in disgrace as CIA director amid revelations of an extramarital affairs, was passed over by then-president-elect Donald Trump's transition team because of his criticism of torture, according to leaked vetting documents.