For the U.S. Marines, the future of warfare is robotized.

For the U.S. Marines, the future of warfare is robotized.

summary: Over the past eight years, the U.S. Marine Corps has undergone significant modernization, adopting new technologies, tactics, and equipment, including various types of battlefield robots.

These range from the Mk-2 Instant Eye drone, which provides aerial reconnaissance, to ultralight robots and explosive ordnance disposal remotely operated vehicles that enhance the Marine Corps’ ability to perform explosive ordnance disposal and reconnaissance missions.

In addition, the XQ-58 Valkyrie drone supports air operations, and an experimental robot dog equipped with anti-armor weapons shows potential for future combat applications. These advances highlight a shift toward integrating more robotic technologies into Marine Corps operations, reflecting broader trends in military strategy around the world.

Modernizing the Marine Corps: Utilizing robots on the battlefield

The past eight years have seen fundamental changes in the way the Marine Corps conducts its work. There used to be a joke that Marines always got hand-me-downs from the Army, but that’s no longer true. The branch has grown into a highly modern force that actively embraces new tactics, technology, and equipment, including the use of battlefield robots.

Although not yet widely adopted, or at all, the Marine Corps is experimenting with several robots.

MK-2 Instant Eye

Mini-drones, or quadcopters, have become part of modern warfare, and have recently been used in Iraq, Syria, Ukraine, and Israel. The current squad-level Marine drone is the Mk-2 Instant Eye. The Mk-2 is an ultra-small drone that is extremely portable and potentially difficult to detect.

Throw the drone in the air and you can see the sky. This allows Marines to quickly monitor what’s ahead and spot things like ambushes and traps. Because it’s so small, Marines can fly through buildings and windows to get close to what might be hiding in those rooms. This gives the Marines an organic reconnaissance capability that is safer than sending in Marines.

The Mk-2 Instant Eye has the same weaknesses as other commercial drones. That means only 30 minutes of battery life and a video link line-of-sight range of just 2 kilometers. The current Mk-2 is a tool that requires multiple batteries or is used sparingly. However, these problems may be resolved with advances in technology.

ultra-light robot

Ultra-Light Robot isn’t the most creative name, but Marines like it simple. On my first deployment to Afghanistan, the attached Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit defeated their EOD bot. It was huge, and funnily enough, it was controlled with an Xbox 360 controller. It reminded me of Johnny 5. Looking back, it’s easy to see why Ultralight Robot is Johnny 5’s successor.

The EOD bot was too big to carry, but the ultralight robot is about the size of a shoebox. It is a stepping robot with a total weight of about 10 pounds. Designed to be thrown, Marines can throw it over walls, through windows, or other locations. A tow arm allows you to flip it over and manipulate the environment as needed.

The ultralight robot is remotely controlled and provides high-resolution visual reconnaissance. Additionally, one Marine can control multiple robots. Ultralight robots are used by EOD for explosives interrogation and by Reconnaissance Marines for reconnaissance.

Related: 5 future military technologies that will shape the battlefield

Explosive Ordnance Disposal Remote Control Vehicle

Wow, we’ve gone from simply named ultralight robots to extremely long explosive ordnance disposal remotely operated vehicles.

As the name suggests, explosive ordnance disposal remotely operated vehicles are designed to dispose of explosives, but can only be used at sea. Marines will be able to throw the water drone into the ocean and guide it via a tablet-like device. The robot is equipped with an arm and high-definition camera that will allow Marines to defuse and destroy explosive devices near shore.

The robot would be a perfect fit for the Marine Corps’ new coastal role, which involves operating troops both in and out of coastal zones. This promises to allow for a safer landing and safer evacuation for the Marine Corps’ new ship-destroying force.

“This robot gives Marines eyes in the water,” said Master Sgt. said Patrick Hilty, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Project Officer, Marine Corps Systems Command. “This is a capability the Marine Corps has never had before,” he added.

Kratos XQ-58 Valkyrie

Although the XQ-58 Valkyrie is not a robot exclusive to the Marine Corps, the Corps has purchased two of these aerial drones for experimentation and testing. The XQ-58 Valkyrie system is designed as a pilot’s wingman and can escort F-22 and F-35 fighter jets.

The XQ-58 Valkyrie is controlled by a parent aircraft and can be used as a reconnaissance aircraft, provide defensive fire, or even become a sacrificial lamb in air combat. The drone has a stealth-like design and can be used as a single device or in a swarm, with or without direct pilot control.

This attractive system can be launched not only from traditional airstrips, but also from support vessels, shipping containers, and even semi-trailer trucks. Its small size and easy maneuverability allow it to be deployed in areas where suitable airfields do not exist.

RELATED: AI-piloted F-16s compete against human pilots in ‘complex dogfights’

robot dog

According to Military Times, the Marines tested a Chinese-made robot dog called Go1. The Marine Corps as a whole has no intention of adopting Chinese-made robots, but they are fine as commercially available experimental robots.

The Marines did the most Marine thing possible with the Go1 and attached a LAW rocket launcher to it.

The LAW is a lightweight anti-armor rocket launcher of fire-and-forget design. It made a huge comeback in Afghanistan and remains part of the Marine Corps arsenal. The idea of ​​strapping a robot is simple. Robots can be controlled and deployed to engage threats while Marines remain hidden behind cover.

The major threat to infantry is armor, and being able to hit with anti-armor tools while Marines remain hidden is invaluable. Marines face a variety of threats. Machine gun bunkers, trench troops, and obstacles are all significant dangers to Marines. This could be resolved through judicial application of anti-armor launchers. Although Go1 will not be adopted, a similar robot could eventually serve in this role as the Marines’ best friend.

the future is robots

The 8-year-old in me is very excited about the idea of ​​robot warfare, but the adult in me is a little apprehensive.

The Marines are not the only ones experimenting with robots, and America’s adversaries are undoubtedly some similar technology. Only time will tell whether robots, drones, etc. will populate the battlefields of the future. The one thing that hasn’t changed is that the Marines will continue to be Marines, and we can take some comfort in that.

About the author: Travis Pike

Travis Pike is a former Marine machine gunner who served five years in the 2nd B and 2nd Marines. He deployed to Afghanistan in 2009 and served a record 11 months at sea in 2011 as the 22nd MEU (SOC). He has trained with the Romanian Army, Spanish Marines, Emirati Marines and the Afghan National Army. He serves as his NRA certified pistol instructor and teaches concealed carry classes.

This article was first published by Sandboxx News.

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