An unmanned logistics system can carry heavy loads across a wide variety of rough terrain including forest, arctic, desert, and jungle.

The information came to light when Kevan Jones, MP for North Durham, asked in Parliament:

“To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, whether his Department has considered the potential merits of acquiring the capabilities currently being examined by the US Army’s Squad-Multipurpose Equipment Transport (SMET) programme.”

Guto Bebb, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence, replied:

“We are actively engaged in the assessment of requirements and solutions for unmanned systems for the resupply of frontline troops. While we are not currently considering the acquisition of the US Army’s Squad Multipurpose Equipment Transport (SMET) programme, other work is ongoing to develop similar capabilities.

The most promising of these will be evaluated during the British Army’s Exercise Autonomous Warrior (Land) later this year.”

The US project has moved into the experimentation phase with thr Squad Manoeuvre Equipment Transport (SMET) system as the country seeks to finally determine if such a capability is worthwhile.

“We’re still struggling to understand this device and what we want it to do for us,” Lieutenant Colonel Bill Venable, the US Army’s chief for its Electronics and Special Developments Branch.

The US plans to purchase 80 in various configurations and install them in brigade combat teams across the army, Lt Col Venable said.

18 COMMENTS

  1. I wonder how many hundreds of millions they will spend on this research rather than just ordering new equipment or increasing manpower?
    We do not need this capability what is wrong with an armoured truck and a squad of logged?

  2. it depends on the cost. logistics is heavily manpower dependent, which in turn is very expensive. We need to find creative ways to cut costs to allow more money to be invested in fighting soldiers, which we are current badly missing. Saying that, best option is to let the US design the gear and then just buy it off the shelf, rather than researching it ourselves.

    • I’m not sure that just letting the US do it is the best option, it means that if we ever arrive at a manufacturing point they hold all the cards. Surely it’s better to do the R&D to the extent we can afford so that we are a viable partner rather than just a customer?

      Look at F-35, the U.K. had done the research to get to the point where all the aircraft have parts built here, if we’d not done the research we’d get precious little.

    • If we can design it ourselves we should. Buying anything remotely hi – tech from the US comes with lots of restrictions. Your probably right about manpower savings in combat support. Not a huge number of Ruperts there !

  3. One of the primary reasons that autonomous vehicles are being looked at is due to the weight the average soldier now carries going in to combat. This especially true if you are going with the full body armour and just front and back plates. On top of this, is the extra ammo that most squads now take, especially if you have a GPMG and mortar. All this extra ammo is necessary for prolonged engagements and to win a fire fight. Hence the need for a small vehicle that can take the burden from the troops, basically a modernised pack mule.
    Imagine how much this will speed up ground manoeuvre as you’re not having to lug around a 50Kg Bergen, just you basic webbing etc. There can be great benefits of this mechanical mule, but there would still be a lot to work out from getting the vehicle from a MOB to a start line, can it be under slung or carried in helicopter etc.

  4. I have a solution to this – a Polaris vehicle with a GPMG on top carrying 4 soldiers and their kit.

    Its clearly not an armoured vehicle – but for light infantry it is perfect

    Drive and dump then fight fresh…

    £10k each for the mil spec ones and we could buy 10,000 of these to have all our infantry mobile and also use for day to day tasks around ranges etc.

    build them in the uk and lets crack on.

    • Again a far too sensible idea from you Pacman. Mod will gold plate any requirement making it unaffordable, overly complex, and ordered in numbers too small to spread the development costs.

  5. Haven’t the US already designed an all terrain autonomous walking kit carrier? I watched some videos of it a couple of years ago, looked amazing and could carry several 100 kegs. It was impossible for it to fall over, even on ice or being violently pushed. Can’t remember what it was called but looked like the legs and body from a large dog or deer.

  6. Nice one Paceman. Just what I was thinking a modern day Been carrier is what we need. Rapid all terrain light transportation. Not labelled as armoured so no one is under any illusions. This is for infantry to decant from to flight. The carrier could take all their heavy kit and be unloaded when coming into contact. A section support or anti armour weapon mount would be an added bonus as these items are flipping heavy to lug around all day.

  7. As Ex-infantry I must admit that I do get worried by the lack of help for the guys on the ground.

    I think a Polaris with a GPMG and 4 guys in it is very useful – if nothing else you can get some cover from it. Cheap n cheerful but full of utility and helps with the load.

    What is not to like about it – fast, nippy and cheap not pretending to be armoured, just a light transport with the ability to put down some heavy fire

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