Royal Marines 'seek battlefield advantage' as they become first UK troops to test with drone swarms

IN A first for Britain’s military, Royal Marines have used drone swarms to assist them in battle drills.

Saturday, 17th July 2021, 3:15 pm

The hi-tech machines were present in the air, on the sea and underwater to help troops as they carried out simulated raids on missile and radar installations across the UK.

Those in charge of the trials were quick to insist that the aim is not to get rid of the marines themselves, but rather to improve their performance.

‘We must always remember that this tech is there to enhance commando excellence, not to replace it,’ said Colonel Chris Haw, the officer in charge of the experiments.

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Pictured are Royal Marines of 40 Commando with the Ghost drone during a demonstration for the First Sea Lord and distinguished guests

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The drills were carried out at the Electronic Warfare Tactics facility at RAF Spadeadam in Cumbria, and at Lulworth Cove in Dorset.

Named ‘Autonomous Advance Force 4.0’, the trials were designed to create a combined man-and-machine force to give the commandos a ‘battlefield advantage’.

A Royal Navy spokesman said: ‘A group of six medium-heavy lift drones were operated in one autonomously controlled swarm from a single ground control station.

Pictured are Royal Marines of 40 Commando with the Ghost drone during a demonstration for the First Sea Lord

‘The drones were tasked with tactically re-supplying commandos with everything from ammunition for the assaulting troops, through to blood for combat medics.

‘The swarm also demonstrated significant flexibility and switched roles to conduct reconnaissance missions to provide intelligence for commando raids ashore and at sea against a hostile target, when launched from RFA Mounts Bay.’

It’s hoped the new systems will be a staple in frontline operations for troops in the near future.

Pictured are Royal Marines of 40 Commando with the Ghost drone during a demonstration for the First Sea Lord

The navy spokesman added: ‘The autonomous systems also worked together, being tasked independently to find and identify enemy targets, accurately using their range of increasingly powerful sensors and target acquisition algorithms,

‘The ultimate aim is to seamlessly embed autonomous systems on the front line to support commando forces on the battlefield.

‘These experiments scrutinise tactics and develop knowledge of how the drones can and cannot be used.’

First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, said the new tech was all part of the navy’s drive to modernise.

‘Only by continued experimentation with the latest technology and innovation can we properly prepare our people for the challenges of the future,’ he said.

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