The Army is taking steps to address a new threat — UAVs armed with IEDs:
That’s why the Army is adapting C-RAM [originally designed to protect against designed to counter rockets, artillery and mortars] for use against UAVs. “The smaller and smaller the protective area, the more efficient the gun systems become compared to missiles,” Luciano said. “You don’t need as many, and the gun system has certain logistics advantages.”
The EAPS ARDEC gun alternative could include a 50mm cannon to launch command guided interceptors and use a precision tracking radar interferometer as a sensor, a fire control computer and a radio frequency transmitter and receiver for launching munitions into an engagement basket, the Army said.
In April, the development team tested the system by shooting down a class 2 UAV – a short range tactical UAV such as the RQ-7A/B Shadow 200 – with command guidance and command warhead detonation.
It won’t be long before each infantryman has enough firepower (both offensive and defensive) on his own person, carried by a robotic exoskeleton, to have all the firepower of a platoon of 30 men. He’ll also have all the logistical needs of a platoon, all of a platoon’s intel requirements, and more computing power than a modern workstation.
And what happens to the grunt, to the privates and the lower NCOs, when the job of a single infantryman requires the skills, training, and pay of a commissioned officer? It takes a lieutenant to lead a platoon, but the way we’re headed eventually that lieutenant will be the platoon. The grunts, I suspect, will be the lieutenant’s little robot friends who scurry from depot to battlefield and back, keeping him full of ammo, batteries, water, and all his other logistical requirements. There will also be semiautomated drones flying around him, looking for bad guys, firing the occasional missile, and engaging in miniature air battles with enemy drones.
The platoon-infantryman will have to be kept apprised of all of these robotic goings on through an AI system which is able to separate all the wheat form the chaff, presenting him only with the information he needs, exactly when he needs it. All of this, I should add, is on top of his moving, firing, and coordinating with his fellow platoon-infantrymen and with the brass commanding his unit.
You get the idea that all that gear would emit enough to fry an egg simply by tossing it into the air.
The bad news is, there might not be many men (or women) who possess the physical and mental acumen to perform all of these tasks at once, even with all the computer and robotic aid they’ll receive. The good news is, if you can think about it this way, is that we won’t be able to afford to equip and field many platoon-infantrymen.
Still, it would be nice to have some real grunts around for when all the high-tech gear goes Tango Uniform.