Royal Marines show off 'game-changer' super drone that can carry ammo and airlift wounded troops
THE ROYAL Marines have showcased "super drones" that promise to change the face of modern warfare.
The flying tech can carry ammo and other supplies, airlift wounded soldiers to safety and even spy on enemy positions from up to half a mile away.
Recent trials of the gadgets carried out by the UK's amphibious force were filmed by Forces News, which posted the footage to YouTube last week.
In the video, two drones tested by Marines in Cyprus were highlighted as potential "game-changers" for military bosses.
The first, built by Maidenhead firm Malloy Aeronautics, can carry resupplies of ammunition, food and other equipment.
Capable of hauling up to 180kg (400lb) of gear through the air, the Marines hope to one day use the quadrocopter to ferry wounded troops to safety.
The drone – dubbed the T-800 – has been described as the "pick-up truck of the air".
It flies autonomously and has a range of up to 43 miles (70km) across land and sea.
"Resupply has always been guys carrying stuff and running it forward from the rear echelons," Royal Marines Major Kris Dawson told Forces News.
"Systems like [resupply drones] can bridge potentially pretty significant gaps. That could be an absolute game-changer."
The Marines are working with a number of commercial entities to push the boundaries of what can be achieved with drones on the battlefield.
Another gadget covered in the video is the "Ghost", a remotely piloted mini-helicopter developed by Silicon Valley start-up Anduril.
It can fly distances of up to 20 kilometres from the pilot, and up to 3,000ft (half a mile) above sea level.
Loaded with thermal imaging cameras, the virtually silent drone can capture footage of enemy combatants or encampments from afar.
"The game-changer with this is the software" Forces News presenter Briohny Williams said.
"A pilot can use a computer programme to set instructions for the drone to follow.
"It can also notify the pilot of any possible threat, without a person having to constantly scan video feeds from the from."
Royal Marines are already training to use drones on the battlefield, and it's drastically changing how soldiers work.
Exercises carried out in Cyprus last Autumn tested out some 40 different technologies – including drones – to evaluate their usefulness for the Royal Navy and Royal Marines.
The eventual goal is to develop a system that allows one commander to control multiple drones from a single workstation, said Lee Rowe, programme manager at UK defence contractor QinetiQ.
That station may be located on a warship, or on land within a tactical HQ.
A drone commander could reallocate equipment as he sees fit based on multiple video feeds and a wealth of other data.
"They're getting a total picture of the battlefield, rather than one operator seeing one thing in isolation," Rowe said.
"It also means we're able to concentrate force as and when the commander needs to in response to a given task or threat."
Troops on the ground could also get that information fed back to them via chest-mounted tablets called Android Tactical Assaults Kits (ATAK).
UK military bosses are betting big on drones, which are expected to become a vital tool on battlefields of the future.
Last year, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace hinted that the hovering tech could one day replace British soldiers on the battlefield.
Mr Wallace made the shock claim as he set out plans for the military to become "relentlessly innovative".
He warned that Britain’s enemies have "adapted far more quickly than us".
"Our values and interests are being challenged in the grey zone all over the world," he told a small crowd aboard aboard the newest Navy ship, HMS Tamar, in London, ahead of the publication of a major defence review in September.
In other military tech news, Russia recently showed off its "ground force" of killer robots in an unsettling video.
Super-strong robots that "make the Terminator look puny" are already on the way.
And here's how the Ancient Greeks predicted killer robots, driverless cars and even Amazon Alexa speakers.
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