The SWORDS combat bot was developed specifically for infantry combat in urban warfare environments, and represents a natural evolution of their…
Ferret tracked mobile robot, which has been used over the last few years by DoD and law enforcement agencies for the purpose of surveillance and materials handling. If an unmanned/robotic technology is developed for military application, it’s not long before the question is asked, "Can we stick a gun on it?". In this case, the answer was a resounding "Yes".
The primary purpose of the Armed/Weaponized Talon Robot/SWORDS would seem to be to significantly mitigate the risk of serious injury and/or death to our infantry combat forces on the ground, primarily in urban warfare environments. It’s no secret that the U.S. Army is currently embroiled in a difficult public relations (PR) war against the U.S. media. Every soldier killed in combat OCONUS (Outside the Continental United States) creates more difficulty for the Bush Administration and U.S. Armed Forces. Robots can’t be killed. So, why use human warfighters, when you can conduct reconaissance operations and kill the enemy with remote-controlled, (unmanned) mobile robotic weapons platforms/systems? Basically, why put a human in harm’s way, when you can put a robot on it?
The logic and impetus behind the development of SWORDS is thus the same as that behind the development of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV’s)/Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle’s (UCAV’s). Since our infantry is still embroiled in heavy urban warfare and counterinsurgency operations in Iraq, and the media shows no signs of downplaying combat casualties, the need for SWORDS UGVs is currently greater than ever. The U.S. Army’s Stryker Brigade is in luck, because they’re going to receive 18 of them in Iraq, very soon.
Actually, the first thing that I thought of when I saw the Weaponized Talon Robot/SWORDS was that it would seem to be a perfect platform for the DREAD Weapon System/Multiple Projectile Delivery System (MPDS), a revolutionary centrifugal ballistic system currently being developed by Leader Propulsion Systems. The DREAD Weapon System/MPDS represents "tranformational" technology, and is currently being looked at very closely by several (very) large military defense contractors. It would seem logical that the Foster-Miller Armed/Weaponized Talon Robot/Special Weapons Observation Reconnaissance Detection System (SWORDS) can also be equipped with various kinds of Light Anti-Tank Weapons (LAW’s), like the M136 AT4 anti-armor weapon, M141 Bunker Defeat Munition (BDM), Talley Defense Shoulder-launched Multipurpose Assault Weapon (SMAW) series, or the Talley Defense product-improved M72, M72 NE and M72 HH thermobaric weapons with enhanced blast explosive, currently being manufactured by Talley Defense.
According to Mr. Mangolds, SWORDS’ weapons mount/turret is a major portion of the mobile robotic reconnaissance/weapons platform’s $230,000 per-unit cost. The weapons mount is actually a specialized version of the Telepresent Rapid Aiming Platform (TRAP), manufactured by Precision Remotes, Inc (PRI), of Richmond, California. Mangolds also said that Foster-Miller is going to try to get the per-unit cost of the SWORDS to the $150,000-$180,000 range.
Mr. Mangolds informed DefenseReview that the overall weight for an FN M249 LMG/SAW-equipped Weaponized Talon Robot/Special Weapons Observation Reconnaissance Detection System (SWORDS) is 180 lbs. This includes the 320-round on-board 5.56x45mm ammo supply. We forgot to ask about the OA weight specs for a FN M240B or M240G-equipped SWORDS.
In open terrain, the SWORDS can be remotely operated by a single warfighter at a distance of several thousand feet. In an urban environment, the remote operating distance decreases.
Click on this link to visit the Army-Technology.com page on Foster-Miller’s line of Talon Robots, including the Armed/Weaponized Talon Robot/Special Weapons Observation Reconnaissance Detection System (SWORDS) infantry combat/urban warfare mobile robotic reconnaissance/weapons platform.
Click here to visit a Strategypage.com page on the Foster Miller Talon Robot.