Fort Walker Hosts Collaborative Anti-Mine, Robotic Breaching Exercise

Fort Walker Hosts Collaborative Anti-Mine, Robotic Breaching Exercise

FORT WALKER, Virginia – Deep in the heart of Fort Walker, where most people never go, there is a quiet facility dedicated to research. On June 12, it was exploding with engineers from all around the U. S. with one common goal: finding, and eliminating, land mines.

Organized by U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Center, various contracting organizations deployed Unmanned Aircraft Systems of different sizes and capabilities in an impressive exercise to demonstrate to Col. Anthony Gibbs from Program Executive Office Soldier, Program Manager for Soldier Warrior, how emerging technology can reduce battlefield casualties.

As the exercise began, one UAS live-streamed the area of operation to the command center, another identified enemy combatants (who were notionally eliminated by close air-support), while another discovered mines downrange, leading to a barrage of simulated mortar fire to clear the danger. A team of developers, role-playing Soldiers, raced downrange in an M1126 Stryker armored vehicle, deploying a robot dog and plotting a path through the destroyed mine-field and using sensors to identify any imminent dangers.

In a scenario that seemed like something out of a video game, the reality is this future tech will potentially allow for fewer Soldiers to be required to capture an objective, and with much less of becoming a casualty.

Following the conclusion of the exercise, the director of the facility invited everyone to a demonstration of the protection capabilities being researched. Behind thick, steel barriers and blast-proof glass, participants experienced the detonation of an anti-tank land mine from roughly 50 meters, and two anti-personnel mines from three meters, impacts that most, outside of a combat zone, will never see.

It’s simulations like this which provide an insider’s look to battlefield scenarios and environments. For researchers, it’s a critical component to staying one step ahead of enemy combatants and provide our warfighters the most cutting-edge capabilities for mission success.

“Army research partners were able to successfully integrate air and ground robotic assets to reduce the workload for Soldiers during mine clearance operations,” said Mike Donnelly of Research and Technology Integration Division of C5ISR. “I’m proud of the work everyone put in here today.”

By Chris Hall, Fort Walker Public Affairs Office