Targeting the future
Photo © Dstl
Working with industry partners SEA, Qioptiq and Lantac, Dstl’s Future Individual Lethality System (FILS) technology demonstrator programme delivered a next-generation prototype assault rifle with increased range, integrated data and power and a radically improved fused multispectral Surveillance and Target Acquisition system.
It is the first assault rifle capable of tasking third party effects, for example Remote Weapon Stations and Remotely Piloted Air Systems (RPAS). Further stages will explore integrated AI-enabled target detection and classification capabilities for passive range estimation and real time automated ballistic solution to increase the speed and accuracy of engagements.
New territory for wheeled demonstrator
Wheeled armoured vehicle mobility could break new ground with technologies being demonstrated on a one third scale Mobility Test Rig (MTR) invented by Dstl and QinetiQ to test functionality and capability.
The MTR features fully articulating active suspension, QinetiQ electric drive, advanced multi-wheel steer and wheel traction control. The unique platform will test solutions that provide a compact configuration for transportation or operation in urban areas, good stability at high speeds or on side slopes, enhanced step climbing, enhanced gap crossing, improved soft soil mobility and variable ride height that can be optimised for high ground clearance or low silhouette.
Dstl has played a major role in MOD’s £400 million CRENIC programme, which will deliver the next generation of electronic countermeasures to protect against improvised explosive devices (IEDs) for future force protection.
Dstl’s role involved designing an innovative technical architecture. The benefits of this include reducing the amount of time taken to upgrade as new technology becomes available, and enabling an ‘ecosystem’ of suppliers who can provide and incorporate new solutions as the capability develops. CRENIC has been held up as an example of best practice in the Defence and Security Industrial Strategy 2021.
Photo © Dstl
UGVs breaking new ground
Dstl is conducting scientific assessment of the potential use of autonomous systems for resupply operations to understand how they will integrate with the wider defence logistics capability for the Army under the Joint Tactical Autonomous Resupply and Replenishment (JTARR) project.
This will inform the wider Project Theseus to “define and deliver an end-to-end, highly automated ground and air resupply network, enabled by a logistic information system; 24/7 and in all conditions.”
Photo © Dstl
Separately, Dstl is exploring autonomous robotic solutions to detect life threatening chemical, biological and radiological (CBR) hazards. A demonstrator CBR sensor suite will be developed to be mounted on an uncrewed ground vehicle (UGV) to better understand the possible strengths and weaknesses of autonomous systems for CBR Recce and Survey and whether they can replace crewed vehicles.
Photo © Dstl
New technologies span natural boundaries
Amphibious vehicles, bottom-crawling robots and drones with autonomous control are just 3 of the technologies being trialled under the Map the Gap competition, run by Dstl on behalf of DASA, to find new ways to help UK armed forces cross a body of water, or ‘wet gap’, safely and covertly while increasing the tempo of operations.
The prototypes are expected to retrieve vital information such as the depth and flow of the water, the distance between both banks and their respective heights and the ground-bearing capacity of the nearby land.
Diversity on the virtual battlefield
Dstl has been working with Slitherine Software and Battlefront to create a new version of Combat Mission that previously just featured white characters to represent groups from different ethnic backgrounds and use a more diverse set of accents to reflect today’s armed forces. The changes aim to open wargaming up to new audiences and ensure content is engaging and inclusive to all participants.
Largest military drone swarm
A swarm of 20 drones completed the largest collaborative, military focused evaluation of swarming uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the UK.
The swarm consisted of 5 different types and sizes of fixed wing drones, with different operational capabilities, together with 6 different payload types, flying representative tasks. The UAVs flew simultaneous Beyond Visual Line Of Sight (BVLOS) cooperative tasks, with Blue Bear collaborative autonomy ensuring they all contributed to overall mission goals. The trial will inform and de-risk future choices and decisions about swarming drone capability.
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