21st Century assymetrical warfare is hell, especially when it takes place in cities. Here’s one way to reduce (our side’s) casualties in these conflicts: draft robots.
ORLANDO, Florida — Hunting for guerillas, handling roadside bombs, crawling across the caves and crumbling towns of Afghanistan and Iraq — all of that was just a start. Now, the Army is prepping its squad of robotic vehicles for a new set of assignments. And this time, they’ll be carrying guns.
As early as March or April, 18 units of the Talon — a model armed with automatic weapons — are scheduled to report for duty in Iraq. Around the same time, the first prototypes of a new, unmanned ambulance should be ready for the Army to start testing. In a warren of hangar-sized hotel ballrooms in Orlando, military engineers this week showed off their next generation of robots, as they got the machines ready for the war zone.
“Putting something like this into the field, we’re about to start something that’s never been done before,” said Staff Sgt. Santiago Tordillos, waving to the black, 2-foot-six-inch robot rolling around the carpeted floor on twin treads, an M249 machine gun cradled in its mechanical grip.
Four cameras and a pair of night-vision binoculars allow the robot to operate at all times of the day. It has a range of about a half-mile in urban areas, more in the open desert. And with the ability to carry four 66-mm rockets or six 40-mm grenades, as well as an M240 or M249 machine gun, the robots can take on additional duties fast, said GlobalSecurity.org director John Pike.
“It’s a premonition of things to come,” Pike said. “It makes sense. These things have no family to write home to. They’re fearless. You can put them places you’d have a hard time putting a soldier in.”
If you think the Iraqi guerillas and terrorists are kicking our asses, ask yourself if you’d like to trade places with them and face us for a change.