British Army unveils bug-like drones which can withstand 40mph winds

Britain is in a “very real race” with its enemies for technological advantage on the battlefield, the Defence Secretary has warned.

Ben Wallace said new armed forces’ equipment needs to be “threat-driven” and better aligned to the UK’s future needs.

The strategy, which comes ahead of the Integrated Review of foreign policy, defence, security and international development, seeks to ensure the forces are equipped to meet future threats.

Mr Wallace was speaking after a demonstration of the latest unmanned autonomous vehicles, drones and geolocation systems, which can now be securely linked together, on Salisbury Plain on Monday.

The Army demonstrated how a new Android Team Awareness Kit (Atak) can allow troops to see the position of other soldiers while fighting, helping to avoid friendly fire.

The mobile phone-style device, which is positioned on a soldier’s chest, also links to drones and autonomous vehicles fitted with cameras which act as “extendable eyes”, enabling troops to see a livestream of a target or threat miles away.

It also links up to the X3 unmanned autonomous vehicle, which can be fitted with cameras or speakers to distract enemy forces, or to send live footage back to troops.

The X3 can travel at speeds of up to 20km per hour (12.4 mph) and has a range of about 2km (1.2 miles) but can be linked with other vehicles to relay information along a chain up to 24km (15 miles) long.

It can also be used to break into compounds, or clear roadblocks, with enough power to move objects up to three tonnes.

The technology will be tested along with a range of prototype systems as part of the Army Warfighting Experiment on Salisbury Plain this week.

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