US & UK Troops Demo New Battlefield Tech

A M1 Abrams tank from the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, moves to secure an area during a Robotic Complex Breach Concept demonstration at Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, April 6, 2018. The Robotic Complex Breach Concept employes the use of Robotic and Autonomous Systems (RAS) for intelligence, suppression, obscuration, and reduction missions. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Hubert D. Delany III / 22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

GRAFENWOEHR, Germany – A spotlight shined in the training area of Grafenwoehr, Germany as troops from the U.S., the U.K., and Department of Defense civilians gathered to watch as several new pieces of technology and concepts were used during a Robotic Complex Breach Concept assessment and demonstration, April 6, 2018. 

“We are evaluating capabilities and the performance of a complex breach using robotics systems,” said Keith Briggs, the assistant engineering lead for the Robotic Complex Breach Concept. 

Soldiers conduct breach operations when they encounter complex obstacles along their movement that may be reinforced with mines. The unit works together to secure the area and suppress any enemy contact, while using smoke to obscure their breach and mine clearing operations to continue their assault to the objective. 

A U.S. Soldier assigned to the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, simulates loading a vehicle mounted Automated Direct/Indirect Mortar (ADIM) during a Robotic Complex Breach Concept assessment and demonstration, at Grafenwoehr, Germany, April 6, 2018. The ADIM was used during the first Robotic and Autonomous Systems (RAS) engineer breach and provided mobile mortar capabilities and more lethality to the Warfighter in the battlefield. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Gregory T. Summers / 22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

“The breach is one of the most difficult tasks that Soldiers can be faced with on the battlefield, so the opportunity to deploy robotic assets in place of a Soldier is something we are heavily striving for,” added Briggs. 

The robotic assets used during the breach included aerial technology with the Lethal Miniature Aerial Missile System (LMAMS), Puma and Instant Eye. 

The Puma is an unmanned aerial vehicle that is designed for reconnaissance and has an integrated payload specifically for identifying buried objects such as mines or improvised explosive devices. This technology allows Soldiers to identify mines early during their advance. 

The Instant Eye is equipped with a chemical detection module for identifying the presence of Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) threats, which alerts the unit of the hazard and allows them to plan accordingly

A “Terrier” armored digger from the United Kingdom’s 22nd Engineer Regiment, 8th Engineer Brigade, maneuvers during a Robotic Complex Breach Concept demonstration with the U.S. military at Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, April 6, 2018. The Robotic Complex Breach Concept employes the use of Robotic and Autonomous Systems (RAS) for intelligence, suppression, obscuration, and reduction missions. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Hubert D. Delany III / 22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

The LMAM is a direct-fire missile used for neutralizing enemy targets. 

“The LMAM allowed us to work faster and support the breach with our fires support,” said 1st Lt. Cody Rothschild, a fire support officer with 1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division. 

The military-vehicle mounted Automated Direct and Indirect Mortar (ADIM) is a mobile mortar that increases unit lethality. It can be manually operated by a standard mortar crew or remotely operated by a fire direction center.

Pvt. 1st Class Brandon Norton, an M1 Abrams crewmember and an Albany, Oregon native with Company B, 1st Battalion, 63rd Armor Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, launches a Lethal Miniature Aerial Missile System (LMAMS) for aerial support during a Robotic Complex Breach Concept assessment and demonstration, at Grafenwoehr, Germany, April 6, 2018. The LMAMS is a direct-fire missile used for neutralizing enemy targets and was employed during the early stages of the engineer breach. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Gregory T. Summers / 22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

Rothschild added, “The ADIM was a great asset to our breach today and definitely increased our survivability.” 

The other robotic systems demonstrated ground equipment capabilities and included the M58 Wolf and the Terrier armored digger equipped with technology allowing them to be remotely controlled. 

The M58 Wolf is a remote controlled, M113 armored personnel carrier variant, unmanned vehicle equipped with a smoke generator capable of producing continuous obscuration that inhibits the enemy’s optical and infrared detection. 

“My team utilized the M58 Wolf smoke generator,” said Capt. Josiah McCoy, commander, Company B, 1st Battalion, 63rd Armor Regiment, 2nd ABCT, who led the maneuver element involved with the breach. “This [M58 Wolf] helped out the engineers and allowed us to set the conditions.” 

A M58 Wolf is remotely controlled to release a cloud of smoke during a Robotic Complex Breach Concept demonstration at Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, April 6, 2018. The Robotic Complex Breach Concept employed the use of Robotic and Autonomous Systems (RAS) in intelligence, suppression, obscuration, and reduction missions. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Hubert D. Delany III / 22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

As the smoke obscured the enemy’s view, the Terrier cleared the mines and breached the obstacle for other maneuver elements to pass through. 

The Terrier, currently fielded by the U.K’s army, is a combat engineer vehicle capable of accomplishing combat and construction-engineering tasks while manned or remotely controlled. 

Soldiers with the 82nd Brigade Engineer Battalion, 2nd ABCT, maneuvered their way through the obstacle utilizing the innovative robotic systems together with their U.K counterparts of the 22nd Engineer Regiment, 8th Engineer Brigade. 

The multinational effort, combined with the advancements in technology, allowed the maneuver element to complete all phases of the breach. 

A U.K. Terrier armored digger, operating via remote control, finishes making a path for other military elements to maneuver through a breach during a Robotic Complex Breach Concept assessment and demonstration, at Grafenwoehr, Germany, April 5, 2018. The Terrier is a combat engineer vehicle capable of accomplishing combat and construction-engineering tasks while manned or remotely controlled. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Gregory T. Summers / 22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

McCoy added that the robotics breach provided a unique opportunity for combined arms to work together while using automated breaching assets. 

“I think this was a great opportunity to increase our skill sets and strengthen our relationships with other entities,” McCoy said. “This opened our eyes to what capabilities are out there and how we can improve now until this tech is implemented.”