British soldiers head to California to test cutting-edge systems and technologies

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Fort Irwin in California provides soldiers with a vast training area to experiment with new concepts and equipment. A first for many was a flight in with the United States Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk. Photographer: Sgt Donald Todd - UK MOD © Crown copyright 2022

This month the British Army’s 20th Armoured Brigade Combat Team (20 ACBT) are in the US to work with our allies and test of range of innovative systems.

Project Convergence 22, for which the UK is contributing 450 soldiers, will test around 17 cutting-edge systems and technologies, including some for the first time ‘on the ground’.

This exercise is designed to help make the British Army more lethal on the battlefield, by cutting down on time and complications in what is called the ‘sensor-decider-effector’ chain.

One of the ways of doing this will be to speed up the process by which the M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) is fired, by use of automation and sensors on the F-35 Lightning II fighter jet.

Other methods of increasing lethality that are being tested in California include combining one of our air defence assets, the Giraffe Agile Multi Beam (G-AMB) radar, with the network that the Americans use in order to better coordinate our protection.

It is not just all about equipment; from a human perspective, the newly-formed Ranger Regiment will operate alongside US Special Operations Forces to swap tactics, while a British Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RAS) Platoon will provide reconnaissance and logistical support.

Today on Project Convergence 22, soldiers from C Company are working alongside the Infantry Trials and Development Unit (ITDU) utilised equipment such as the SkyDIO unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and variants of the Remote Piloted Vehicles (RPV) during OBUA training scenarios Project Convergence is the Joint Force experimenting with speed, range, and decision dominance to achieve overmatch and inform the Joint Warfighting Concept and Joint All Domain Command and Control.  Photographer: Sgt Donald Todd UK MOD © Crown copyright 2022

The RAS capability will be provided by the 2nd Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment (2 YORKS), who have recently completed a posting in Cyprus, where they trialled an array of systems to determine their effectiveness for future infantry use.

The Watchkeeper WK450 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) will provide the eyes in the sky while a range of other technologies will support situational awareness and the processing of intelligence within 20 ACBT headquarters.

Watchkeeper is an intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) asset, that can collect, process, and disseminate high quality imagery intelligence. Photographer:
Sgt Donald C Todd (RLC) – UK MOD © Crown copyright 2022

Project Convergence is the premier US Army experimentation exercise, seeking to define how the US and international partners, including the UK and Australia, will fight in a multi-domain battlespace.

More than a singular event, this is a sustained campaign of learning designed to advance and integrate our allied forces and ensure that we can rapidly and continuously ‘converge’ effects across the battlefield.

An experimentation of firsts, the UK hopes to achieve:

  1. The first time a UK Giraffe Agile Multi-Beam RADAR (Air Defence Sensor forming part of Sky Sabre Medium Range Air Defence) has connected to a US Fire Control Network (normally a US only system).
  • The first time UK Rangers have been deployed alongside US Special Operations Forces and the 75th Ranger Regiment on Theatre Entry Exercises – experimenting with the concept of use of the nascent Army Special Operations Brigade and its’ Ranger Regiment.
  • The first time ZODIAC, a UK decision support system that can help Commander’s make decisions, has been connected to US ‘sensors’, feeding information into the network.
  • The first time a US F35 fighter jet has cued fires for a UK GMLRS missile platform, without the requirement for a person in the loop, cutting the strike time down from minutes to seconds.
  • The first time the UK have manufactured US parts using 3D printing, helping them resupply at reach and sharing technical designs of vehicle and weapon parts.
  • The first time UK HoloLens (augmented reality lenses) have been used to help sustainers fix equipment supported by a technical expert over extended distance.
  • WATCHKEEPER UAS flying operationally in a multi-National construct, tasked by 1st (US) Cavalry Division.
  • Command and Control – 20 ABCT TOC utilising the Mission Partner Environment, ZODIAC decision support tool and HoloLens to support decision making.
  • The printing of US parts using a UK 3D printer in support of expeditionary logistics, and the sharing of blueprints and data that allows our partners to resupply each other.
  • Augmented Reality Forward Repair being used by the UK and US combined to use expertise at reach to help a soldier repair forward.

Source: MOD News Licence.

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