British troops will soon wear new ‘Terminator’ kit that tracks their location and that of the enemy in a move that will ‘revolutionise’ urban warfare and help prevent accidental deaths.
Soldiers will use lasers on their weapons and audio sensors to share the location of enemy fighters firing at them with the rest of their unit so they can kill them quicker without being seen.
Commanders will be fed all the information from the battlefield and both track and guide their troops as they move around in built-up towns full of jihadists in future wars.
The ‘close combat sensor system’ has been described as Terminator-style technology because it makes an assessment of surrounding forces and provides a full picture back to the soldier.
In the same way Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator automatically assesses every person in front of him, soldiers will do the same looking through their rifle scope.
Using an array of sensors, they will be told on the screen where the enemy is, where friendly forces are, and where civilians are, as well as the exact location and distance.
They will also be alerted when a sniper is firing at them even if they cannot hear or see them.
A defence source said: ‘It makes assessments of people, where they are and who they are to ensure soldiers shoot the bad guys and not the good guys.
‘With this new kit, British troops will be better equipped than Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator.’
Experts in the Ministry of Defence’s science laboratory said commanders will track the location of their troops in real time, which will prevent them being targeted by accident in blue-on-blue attacks.
Dr Ken McEwan, the project’s principal engineer at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), told the Daily Mail: ‘It will speed up operations and reduce casualties, particularly if the troops are operating in complex urban environments.’
He added: ‘It will enable commanders to know the precise location of their troops.
‘The troops will be able to automatically share the location of enemy troops with the rest of their unit, using a laser on their weapon.
‘They can use the same technology for a range of other uses such as identifying wounded colleagues and identifying non-combatants.’
The soldier’s system will feed back information to commanders from the battlefield so they can both track and guide their troops, like the Terminator, above
Sensors on the rifle will indicate where the soldier is pointing and alert them if they point their weapon at another member of their unit or friendly forces who are being tracked.
The new technology, which includes cameras attached to their helmet, will enable them to quickly identify wounded colleagues, which means they will be able to be evacuated quicker.
It will be especially useful for Special Forces troops, who are often tasked with secretly breaking through enemy lines and hunting down jihadists in heavily-guarded compounds.
Troops will also be able to detect fire from a hidden position – such as a sniper in an unlit window or a rooftop – using acoustic and camera technology to locate the muzzle flash and sound of a gun’s discharge.
Graphics on the weapon-mounted display will immediately alert the soldier to enemy fire, even if the personnel have not seen or heard the shot. They will also guide the troops towards the source of the attack.
Dr McEwan said no other countries have developed such technology.
It is currently undergoing further testing, including international tests to see how it operates in a range of challenging environments, before it will be rolled out to troops.
Current systems rely on GPS signal which can often be lost when troops move into built-up areas or into tunnels.
With the latest kit, when there is no GPS signal, the system combines data from movement sensors and video images to determine where the troops are.
The equipment uses information based on the last known GPS-captured location so the commander can view his troops’ position in buildings and tunnels.
Soldiers will also be able to fire lasers mounted on their rifles to highlight an enemy position.
Soon British Army soldiers could be equipped with kit better known in science fiction films, like the Terminator, pictured right
Dr McEwan added: ‘The timing and location information can be used to automatically prevent blue-on-blue incidents.
‘This works at two levels. Firstly, commanders can track the location of their troops in real time.
‘This will prevent them being targeted by accident. At a unit level, sensors on the rifle will alert the user if they point their weapon at another member of their unit or friendly forces who are being tracked.’
The system calculates the GPS position of the laser dot and takes visual references from his weapon-mounted camera to identify the target’s location.
It then shows this position in his colleagues’ weapon-mounted displays.
A series of graphic symbols on the screen then guide the troops to the target’s location, allowing the group to coordinate fire on a single point.
The position could also be sent to supporting drones or helicopter crews so they can bomb the target.
Dr McEwan said the kit could also be used in an earthquake or fire, in which rescuers could be tracked as they extract people from burning or collapsed building.
It will be ready for testing in simulated combat around 2020.