The application of Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs) to the battlefield is only just being explored with their use in combat roles truly in its infancy. Thus, the presence at MSPO 2023 in Poland of not one but three UGVs designed specifically for combat roles was noteworthy. That each of these were developed and being offered by Polish firms attests to the level of advanced capabilities demonstrated by its defence industry.
The Perun Autonomous Reconnaissance and Combat UGV was presented by PGZ. Employing a four-wheel drive platform, it was specifically designed for military roles. The model displayed is the latest version since a prototype was shown in 2019 developed to Polish Army requirements.
Designed for reconnaissance and surveillance, patrol, route survey, it can also be configured for resupply and casualty evacuation. Perun was displayed mounting a remote-controlled ZSMU A3 remote-controlled weapon station and a shot detection system, although it can also mount other machine guns or anti-tank missiles. Equipped with GPS assisted navigation it is also controlled by soldiers at 3 to 5 km distance.
The Military Institute of Armament Technology (WITU in Polish) showed its Goblin Universal High Mobility UGV intended to execute both reconnaissance and combat roles. Equipped with a remote weapon station it can engage targets in day and night conditions to 800 meters. Goblin is unique in its employment of two operators one for monitoring and controlling the vehicle and another for operating the weapon system. Designed as a modular platform it can accept various other weapon systems, as well as sensors for specific mission roles.
While most UGVs are intended for repeat mission use the GNOM from Macro-Systems takes the concept of a remote-controlled munition. This mini-UGV weighs only 7 kg but has a maximum speed of 80 km/h. It will carry a warhead payload up to 500 km which can then be detonated against a target. Warheads available include the GX-1 DC for emplacements and light armoured targets, the GK-1 HEAT DG for tanks, armoured vehicles, and combat vehicle crews; the GO-1 HE DG, a high-explosive warhead and the GTB FAE DG thermobaric warhead to destroy command systems.
The UGV response by local industry is influenced by the Polish military’s particular interest and encouragement in exploring the application of unmanned technologies to the battlefield. The force is both supporting hardware and technology development and conducting field evaluations.
These tests, including one as recently as this past Summer of 2023 are considering the tactical capabilities of UGVs and how they can be integrated into the Polish General Staff’s Future Task Force concept.
by Stephen W. Miller