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In a well-organized virtual event on 19 November, Rheinmetall Canada unveiled the Armed Reconnaissance variant of its MISSION MASTER unmanned ground vehicle (UGV), as well as shedding further light on its ‘Wolf Pack’ concept.

The latest member of the MISSION MASTER Autonomous UGV (A-UGV) family the Armed Reconnaissance variant features intelligence-gathering technology and a Rheinmetall FIELDRANGER remote-controlled weapon station (RCWS). It is designed to collect tactical intelligence while providing frontline fire support whenever necessary.

Autonomous robotic vehicles offer countless advantages, including in a reconnaissance application. MISSION MASTER-Armed Reconnaissance is designed to execute high-risk scouting missions and deliver a real-time common operating picture without putting soldiers at risk. Since an enormous volume of data is gathered during missions of this type, the A-UGV is equipped with resilient, highly reliable systems, consisting of long-range EO/IR sensors, a surveillance radar, a 360° full-ring camera, a laser rangefinder and a laser designator to identify potential threats. To further enhance the line of sight for the sensors while keeping a concealed posture, the reconnaissance payload is installed on a 3.5m extendable mast, which also features a tilting mechanism for increased safe transport on any platform, even a CH-53 or CH-47 CHINOOK.

The Armed Reconnaissance module also features radio-agnostic architecture, so it can accommodate any type of radio. The bidirectional communication system permits clear exchanges with HQ and other A-UGVs, giving commanders greater situational awareness. When engaging enemy forces, the FIELDRANGER LIGHT 7.62mm RCWS will provide much more firepower than the usual section weapon. Engagement of targets is remote-controlled, never autonomous.

A PATH to Safe Operations
As with the other modules of the MISSION MASTER family, the Armed Reconnaissance variant owes its autonomous functions to Rheinmetall’s PATH autonomous kit (A-kit). Proven, agnostic, trusted and highly autonomous, PATH is designed to enable military vehicles to operate in unmanned mode. It provides a wide range of teleoperation options for the UGV, including a tablet, smartwatch, soldier system, and single-hand controller. These devices enable full access to advanced PATH features such as follow-me, convoy and autonomous navigation modes. Each control mode incorporates multiple layers of protection to ensure the vehicle operates safely at all times. Moreover, Rheinmetall is committed to keeping a man in the loop in all kinetic operations, assuring that a human decides when to open fire, never a machine.

A Comprehensive Family
The new Armed Reconnaissance module is the latest addition to the modular MISSION MASTER family, widely acclaimed for its all-terrain manoeuvrability and ability to keep troops safe. The Cargo module can carry over half a ton of supplies, relieving the burden on troops and keeping them fresh. The Fire Support modules boost the combat power of dismounted units, while the Rescue module autonomously evacuates casualties and carries specialized equipment for medical interventions in the field. In addition, every single module is equipped with a Blue Force tracking system that is fully compatible with NATO standards.

Like all members of the MISSION MASTER family, the Armed Reconnaissance version is already networked to the ARGUS soldier system and Rheinmetall’s C2 software, which can be installed in any user’s battle management system.

The Power of the Wolf Pack
The new UGV turns Rheinmetall’s ground-breaking Wolf Pack concept into a reality. The Wolf Pack consists of multiple MISSION MASTER vehicles efficiently operating as a team in order to accomplish missions of all types, including zone surveillance, reconnaissance, target position transfer and slew-to-cue. All units communicate with each other and use artificial intelligence to maintain the total situational awareness necessary for carrying out their missions.

A genuine force multiplier, the entire Wolf Pack can be managed by a single operator from anywhere using an LTE network, SATCOM, or military cloud. It is an intuitive concept that enables one operator – rather than multiple uncoordinated operators – to focus on the overall mission, rather than managing all the tasks of each A-UGV. As Rheinmetall continues to develop new modules for the MISSION MASTER family, the Wolf Pack’s range of capabilities will only increase, significantly improving the ability to achieve overmatch against increasingly capable enemies.

 The MISSION MASTER-Armed Reconnaissance is a major step forward for Rheinmetall’s UGV family – and a huge step in realizing its Wolf Pack multiple UGV operations concept. (Photos: Rheinmetall)

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