Technology

'Revolutionising': £66m Investment Confirmed For Future Military Technology

New mini drones, technology for remote control armoured vehicles and pre-programmed vehicles are some of the innovations being funded.

Technology for some remote control armoured vehicles and pre-programmed vehicles are also being funded (Picture: Ministry of Defence).

The Defence Secretary has confirmed £66 million will be spent on providing British personnel with new technology.

The money, part of the Transformation Fund, will help supply new mini drones, technology for remote control armoured vehicles and the ability to send in pre-programmed vehicles providing logistical support to troops on the front line.

Confirmed last year, the Transformation Fund was designed to fast-track military robotic projects on to the battlefield.

Some of the new equipment is expected to be introduced as early as the summer, with the spending focused on three areas:

  • New systems: Army vehicles will be fitted with remote control capability so they can be sent ahead of manned vehicles and used to test the strength of enemy defences.
  • New autonomous logistics vehicles: they would be pre-programmed to deliver vital supplies to troops in conflict zones and help remove soldiers from dangerous resupply tasks so they can focus on combat roles.

  •  New mini drones: these would be lighter and considerably smaller than those used at the moment. These would be aimed to be used across all battlefields from counter insurgency to disaster relief.

Future Mini Drones 050319 Credit MOD
The new mini drones will be lighter in comparison (Picture: MOD).

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: "Each of these new technologies will enhance our Army's capabilities whilst reducing the risk to our personnel and I'm delighted we will be revolutionising frontline technology by the end of the year.

"The MOD has always embraced pioneering technology and this fund will ensure the UK stays at the forefront of global military capabilities and ahead of our adversaries."

The equipment could deploy to the likes of Estonia, Afghanistan and Iraq before the end of the year.

Warrior
Could vehicles such as the Warrior soon be driven remotely?

Brigadier Kev Copsey is the Head of Future Force Development British Army, Ex Autonomous Warrior.

"What we have here today is a series of technologies that have been announced that are going to change the way in which the army operates. It has to," he said.

"The sheer breadth of technology, and the nature of the threat, means the British Army has to be better at fighting, competing and contesting."

"Where you have NATO's Article 5, which is the lexicon we use for war fighting - where there is an attack on one NATO member, there is an attack on us all, and we traditionally go forward in the conventional war fighting that you would have seen played out in images in the media.

"The sub-Article 5 threat is hybrid war - this is where an adversary uses all levers of its national power against us, be it in cyber, or be it in areas such as Ukraine or even up in the Baltic States, and the technology we have will enable us to compete against that type of warfare."

Autonomous Warrior still 050319 CREDIT BFBS
The Army tested a range of technology during last year's Exercise Autonomous Warrior.

The investment comes after the Army tested a range of projects as part of the biggest military robot exercise in British history at the end of last year, Exercise Autonomous Warrior.

Chief of the General Staff Sir Mark Carleton-Smith said: "Rapid adaptation is an essential ingredient for success on the battlefield and the fielding of the next generation of armoured fighting vehicles and ground-breaking robotic and autonomous systems, will keep the British Army at the cutting edge of battlefield technology, improving our lethality, survivability and competitive advantage."