The second scenario: anticipating iMUGS II
As previously mentioned, the second scenario was in fact not part of iMUGS Demonstration 6, and in a sense it was quite probably anticipating iMUGS II and what we might see in a few years time. Convoy security was the case-study, in which unmanned systems were used to keep manned elements out of harm as much as possible, the reconnaissance being assigned once again to a UGV. However this time it was a much bigger platform, the Type-X also from Milrem Robotics, which is not only heavier but is also fitted with a Kongsberg unmanned turret armed with a 30 mm cannon, and is therefore capable to cope with potential enemy threats, identifying and neutralising them in order to open the way to the following combat platforms. Being armed, the Type-X needed a man-in-the-loop, and it was therefore teleoperated from a from a Boxer module purposely fitted out by KMW and installed on a Tracked Boxer prototype, this vehicle having been unveiled at Eurosatory last June. A control station like that installed in the Boxer can control up to three Type-X.
Armed UGVs can be exploited not only for recce but also to secure a key position, and this was the case on the Lehnin training area, as the convoy had to pass over a gap, which required a tactical bridge to be deployed. The latter operation is always critical, and here too an unmanned system came to help. A Leguan tracked bridgelayer, based on a Leopard 2 chassis carrying a 14-meter long MLC80 bridge, came into play. This time however no personnel was present on the Leguan, as this was also tele-operated, the crew having debussed and taken position under cover with the ground control station allowing to remotely controlled the bridge deployment.
The first vehicle to cross the bridge was the Type-X, which pushed forward to continue its reconnaissance mission, while the first combat vehicle, a Boxer 8×8 fitted with the RCT 30 infantry fighting vehicle module with the 30 mm armed remotely controlled turret, approached the bridge and stepped onto it to overcome the obstacle, followed by an AMPV 4×4 armoured vehicle which was fitted on top with an AtlasNEST hosting an AtlasPRO UAS fitted with a thermal camera. While the optionally manned Leopard 2 chassis of the Leguan system crossed the bridge and got ready to recover it before pushing forward, the Tracked Boxer used to control the Type-X, which was also fitted with an unmanned medium-calibre turret, also stepped over the bridge concluding the demonstration.
As seen, unmanned elements in the higher weight category can be employed for combat support, the bridgelayer or other engineering vehicles, as well as for combat, the Type-X or other armed UGVs, trying to put a stand-off distance between manned platforms and enemy threats, as long as combat operations do not start. This will be the subject of iMUGS II, and how much this will get into the use of UGVs fitted with lethal effectors will very much depend on decisions taken by participating nations.
Photos by P. Valpolini