Military Embedded Systems

UK military experimenting with drones in future urban combat ops


March 31, 2023

Dan Taylor

Technology Editor

Military Embedded Systems

UK military experimenting with drones in future urban combat ops
Photo courtesy UK Ministry of Defence

LONDON, United Kingdom. The British Army is experimenting with future urban combat operations concepts that involve having a drone operator that assists the combat team, according to a statement from the UK Ministry of Defence.

"The study, called Urban Phalanx, involves a number of concepts for achieving small unit dominance in future urban combat for dismounted light forces," the statement reads. "The specific focus was on ways to improve urban combat effectiveness through changes in structures and lethality. These areas were developed in collaboration with Army and Royal Marines urban combat experts, as well as the US Marine Corps’ Warfighting Laboratory, and they performed very well during Dstl-led testing and simulation."

The new concept would consist of two four-person fire teams and an independent command element. A systems operator would be removed from the fire teams to focus on controlling small uncrewed air systems (UAS), as well as updating the dismounted situational awareness system, the statement adds.

The British Army has restructured one battalion around this concept and deployed it as the Next Generation Combat Team, which is assigned to further develop the concept at upcoming exercises.

The need for developing a new concept was born out of the fact that the complexity of urban campaigns creates challenges for fire teams who must fight at close quarters.

"The complexity of the terrain and the proximity of the enemy also places a greater burden on junior commanders to act as information sources for higher commanders, adding greater demands on these individuals," the statement reads. "Therefore, the key aims of the Phalanx Platoon concept are to reduce cognitive load on junior commanders while enhancing their ability to defeat threats with their own assets."