British Royal Marines just stormed a beach with robot tanks for backup for the first time

Military Tech

A foot patrol of Royal Marines from Delta Company, 40 Commando passes near Kajaki, Afghanistan in June 2010

(British Ministry of Defense)

Robots in the air, on the ocean surface and on the ground guarded British Royal Marines as they stormed a beach during an important April 2019 war game.

The ground robot, in particular, is a new capability for the Royal Marines. The gun- and rocket-armed, tank-like unmanned ground vehicle could boost the naval branch's firepower while helping to keep human beings out of harm's way.

Alpha Company of the Royal Marines' 40 Commando and their robot guardians stormed a beach in Cornwall in southwest England as part of Exercise Commando Warrior. The Royal Marines' 1 Assault Group supported the naval infantry.


"Commando Warrior was the first time Royal Marines have used the autonomous vehicles during tactical action," the Royal Navy reported.

While advancing towards the beach, the marines were being supported by an unmanned boat cruising the coastline looking for enemy forces both on land and at sea, using its on-board cameras and sensors.
Meanwhile, a small unmanned air system, similar to a drone, was looking from the skies for any signs of danger and two unmanned ground vehicles were providing overwatch and fire support if necessary.

The UGVs in question are variants of QinetiQ's jeep-sized, tracked Titan.

"Titan is a highly modular platform that allows different superstructures to be mounted and integrated onto the middle vehicular platform for complex missions such as rescue, transport and reconnaissance," QinetiQ explained on its website.

The Titan models that supported the Marines carry heavy machine guns and rockets. In a twist, one version of Titan can carry its own, smaller UGV that itself also is armed.

"With the autonomous vehicles looking on, the Royal Marines raided the beach, climbed the cliffs, took out 'enemy' forces patrolling and abseiled back to the sandy shore," the navy stated of the April 2019 war game.

"It is about reinventing the force with new technology that's available," the Navy quoted marine corporal Scott Shaw as saying.

The U.S. and Russian militaries also are moving quickly to integrate armed robots into their ground forces.

The U.S. 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.

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 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.

"Marker is built to be modular, with open information architecture," reported Kelsey Atherton wrote. "One configuration for the testbed arms it with a Kalashnikov-produced machine gun and a part of anti-tank grenade launchers. We can safely expect to see it test a range of weapons."

The Royal Marines' mock beach assault could help to inform QinetiQ's development of more sophisticated UGVs. "Teams behind the unmanned vehicles were at Tregantle Beach to watch how the equipment performed in a live action situation," the Navy reported.

"Images and information were fed back to them to be analyzed while at the same time being routed to a hand-held tablet operated by the marines on the ground."

"This has been a ground-breaking exercise," marine colonel Chris Haw, the Commando Warrior exercise director, told the navy.This article originally appeared on The National Interest.

More from The National Interest:

bulleted list of 3 links"

SEE ALSO: The Army Wants Robots To Help Soldiers Map Underground Tunnels

WATCH NEXT: Russia's Uran-9 Robot Tank In Action

A UH-60 Black Hawk departs from The Rock while conducting Medevac 101 training with members of the 386th Expeditionary Medical Group, Feb. 16, 2019. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Tech. Sgt. Robert Cloys)

A Minnesota Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter with three Guardsmen aboard crashed south of St. Cloud on Thursday, said National Guard spokeswoman Army Master Sgt. Blair Heusdens.

At this time, the National Guard is not releasing any information about the status of the three people aboard the helicopter, Heusdens told Task & Purpose on Thursday.

Read More Show Less

The Pentagon's latest attempt to twist itself in knots to deny that it is considering sending up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East has a big caveat.

Pentagon spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said there are no plans to send that many troops to the region "at this time."

Farah's statement does not rule out the possibility that the Defense Department could initially announce a smaller deployment to the region and subsequently announce that more troops are headed downrange.

Read More Show Less

The Navy could send a second aircraft carrier to the Middle East if President Donald Trump orders a surge of forces to the region, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said on Thursday.

Gordon Lubold and Nancy Youssef of the Wall Street Journal first reported the United States is considering sending up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East to deter Iran from attacking U.S. forces and regional allies. The surge forces could include several ships.

Read More Show Less

I didn't think a movie about World War I would, or even could, remind me of Afghanistan.

Somehow 1917 did, and that's probably the highest praise I can give Sam Mendes' newest war drama: It took a century-old conflict and made it relatable.

Read More Show Less

An internal investigation spurred by a nude photo scandal shows just how deep sexism runs in the Marine Corps

"I will still have to work harder to get the perception away from peers and seniors that women can't do the job."

news
(U.S. Marine Corps photo)

Some years ago, a 20-year-old female Marine, a military police officer, was working at a guard shack screening service members and civilians before they entered the base. As a lance corporal, she was new to the job and the duty station, her first in the Marine Corps.

At some point during her shift, a male sergeant on duty drove up. Get in the car, he said, the platoon sergeant needs to see you. She opened the door and got in, believing she was headed to see the enlisted supervisor of her platoon.

Instead, the sergeant drove her to a dark, wooded area on base. It was deserted, no other Marines were around. "Hey, I want a blowjob," the sergeant told her.

"What am I supposed, what do you do as a lance corporal?" she would later recall. "I'm 20 years old ... I'm new at this. You're the only leadership I've ever known, and this is what happens."

She looked at him, then got out of the car and walked away. The sergeant drove up next to her and tried to play it off as a prank. "I'm just fucking with you," he said. "It's not a big deal."

It was one story among hundreds of others shared by Marines for a study initiated in July 2017 by the Marine Corps Center for Advanced Operational Culture Learning (CAOCL). Finalized in March 2018, the center's report was quietly published to its website in September 2019 with little fanfare.

The culture of the Marine Corps is ripe for analysis. A 2015 Rand Corporation study found that women felt far more isolated among men in the Corps, while the Pentagon's Office of People Analytics noted in 2018 that female Marines rated hostility toward them as "significantly higher" than their male counterparts.

But the center's report, Marines' Perspectives on Various Aspects of Marine Corps Organizational Culture, offers a proverbial wakeup call to leaders, particularly when paired alongside previous studies, since it was commissioned by the Marine Corps itself in the wake of a nude photo sharing scandal that rocked the service in 2017.

The scandal, researchers found, was merely a symptom of a much larger problem.

Read More Show Less