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BAE Systems Black Knight   (Source: Defense Update)
BAE Systems' Black Knight is a formidable weapon for the battlefield

In early October, DailyTech brought you the story of Foster-Miller's MAARS (Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System). The MAARS followed in the footsteps of previous battlefield robots like the REDOWL PakBot and the SUGV Early.

The 300-pound MAARS, on the other hand, brought serious firepower and technology to the table. The MAARS features a M240B Medium Machine Gun and uses GPS tracking to reduce the risk of friendly fire.

While the MAARS is an impressive piece of machinery, BAE Systems is taking battlefield robots to the next level with its Black Knight. The Black Knight is a semi-autonomous 9.5 ton tank based on the Bradley fighting vehicle.

The Black Knight can be controlled from the traditional commander's station or by remote control via the Dismounted Control Device (DCD). Due to its advanced programming, the Black Knight can also autonomously plan routes and avoid obstacles without user intervention.

When it comes to the Black Knights armament, human intervention is required to fire rounds (thankfully). Considering that the Black Knight is armed with a 30mm gun and a coaxial machine gun, it's good to know that this tank won't be rolling around firing at anything that moves.

BAE Systems detailed how admirably the Black Knight performed during a demonstration in early 2007.

"While the Bradley Technology Demonstrator was engaging an enemy target from cover in a support by fire position, the Black Knight was able to autonomously move to a covered position and observe the target, using its sensor package to provide battle damage assessment data back to the Bradley," explained BAE Systems.

"If the enemy target needed to be re-engaged, the Black Knight could effectively neutralize the target, but the command to fire would always be made by a remote Soldier and only after the data necessary to make positive identification is received."

It may be years before such potent machinery is available for use on actual battlefields, however.

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RE: Playing with fire
By Ringold on 11/8/2007 2:54:25 PM , Rating: 2
When your robot forces are defeated, you simply throw up your hands and surrender...realizing how useless it would be continue in a "conventional" manner.

That seems, to me, possibly too optimistic.

Johnson and Nixon in Vietnam, and probably many people in Korea, didn't seem to understand how an inferior enemy from the third world could dare to defy the will of an overwhelmingly superior enemy force. We see the same thing in Iraq today; they manage to defy us, with our billions of dollars, with next to nothing. Our good friends the Soviet's got a piece of this idea in Afghanistan. If Saddam can have the forethought to disperse arms and munitions in preparation for a long drawn out insurgency then I'd imagine most countries could.

A key assumption of mine is that while the arms and methods of an insurgency against such a military would change, not everything would change since a political victory would still require human boots on the ground and the invading power would be as vulnerable to financial drain as we were in Vietnam. Those on the receiving end arent quite as sensitive to cost any more when enemy hovercraft are "probing" your sisters.

I don't see anything that would change the equation such that a future Chinese insurgency couldn't bleed an American robot military, or even vice versa, except for a personal suspicion we're so nationally weak we'd fold like a lawn chair except for local NRA chapters. It was only partly the cost in life that got us out of Vietnam; the price tag also had its role to play.

Not to say that such technology isn't the next natural evolution of warfare, I just don't know that it'd change much.

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