The U.S. Army held a historic first exercise featuring an unmanned vehicle providing live covering fire for troops, and is planning similar maneuvers in the future.
The exercise took place in the summer of 2017 but was just revealed this month, reported Defense One.
The unmanned vehicle was a heavily-armed M113 armored personnel carrier.
“The scenario here was a complex breach in a minefield,” Paul Rogers, director of the Army’s Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center, said at a conference on Wednesday, Feb. 7, according to Defense One.
“You had engineer platoons with infantry support going in and putting in bangalore torpedos[long tubes of explosives used to clear mines],” he said.
As the platoons worked, they were covered by the M1113.
According to Defense One, it’s the first time a U.S. Army live-fire exercise paired humans and shooting ground robots.
— Scott Baumbich (@ScottBaumbich) January 30, 2018
However, as early as 2007, a mini-tank robot was sent out to patrol streets in Iraq.
The M113 is not a tank, noted Jalopnik in an earlier explainer article.
It’s an armored personnel carrier.
As opposed to tanks, which are heavily armored, equipped with a big gun, and tracked, personnel carriers have a smaller gun and less armor.
“If you’re wondering why the M113 exists at all then, it’s because the main job it was originally designed for is getting troops to the battle from a base, and then getting them back out again. The M113 is designed to carry personnel, while being armored. That’s why it’s an APC,” the article stated.
“Instead of carrying crew of four, it carries only two and makes up the difference with room for 11 passengers in the back. The reason why it’s so lightly armored (in comparison to a big, heavy tank) is because it needs to be easily transportable on something like a C-130 cargo plane.”