Monday, June 24, 2024

US Army showcases autonomous unmanned rocket launcher

Approximately one month earlier, the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM) Aviation & Missile Center, in collaboration with the DEVCOM Ground Vehicle Systems Center and the Tennessee National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 181st Field Artillery Regiment, successfully demonstrated the Autonomous Multi-Domain Launcher (AML) in a live-fire exercise.

The U.S. Army has revealed that the event included the launch of three Reduced Range Practice Rockets (RRPR) in a ripple fire mission.

The two weeks leading up to the demonstration saw the team firing three RRPRs, with a total of six fired at Yuma Proving Ground. The AML prototype’s mobility modes—teleoperations, waypoint navigation, and convoy operations—were also showcased. This exercise highlighted the launcher’s capability to move independently from a concealed position to a firing point, adjust its direction as instructed, and receive fire control commands from a remote operator.


Led by the DEVCOM AvMC team, the event highlighted the collaboration between human operators and autonomous systems. Field Artillery Soldiers from the Tennessee National Guard conducted all operations during the demonstration, while subject matter experts from DEVCOM AvMC and GVSC gathered crucial feedback to inform future design iterations.

“The DEVCOM AvMC/GVSC AML team has succeeded in proving the possibility of using remote, autonomous technologies to deliver Long-Range Precision Fires,” remarked Lucas Hunter, AML project manager for DEVCOM Aviation & Missile Center. “This opens the possibility of increasing firepower without major force structure adjustments and without risk to our Soldiers.”

The productive event at Yuma Proving Ground validated the integration of autonomous technology into a modified High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launcher. This achievement marks a milestone for the AML, setting the stage for its participation in Valiant Shield ’24.

“Our Soldiers and the Tennessee National Guard are grateful for the opportunity to see the developments of the AML program and provide feedback to shape the future of long-range precision fires,” said Maj. Michael S. Lowry, 1-181st Field Artillery battalion executive officer. “To be able to follow the AML project over the past four years from inception to operating in a tactical environment is a unique experience for a National Guard HIMARS Battalion.

“Our launcher chiefs present for the operator’s training and live fire quickly envisioned how the AML could augment our current force structure and increase lethality and were eager to provide crew feedback,” Lowry continued. “The accomplishments of the DEVCOM AvMC AML engineers are truly remarkable in such a relatively short amount of time.”

The AML concept aligns with the Army Modernization Strategy, which emphasizes the integration of robotics and autonomy to enhance lethality. The autonomous, unmanned, highly mobile launcher, transportable via C-130 aircraft, promises to amplify firepower with additional launcher platforms and triple the magazine depth, potentially without increasing personnel.

“We are skillfully integrating humans and machines into formations that optimize the natural advantages that both bring,” stated Brig. Gen. Rory Crooks, director of the Long Range Precision Fires Cross-Functional Team. “Our collective efforts allow humans to determine how to best utilize terrain to accomplish the fire support mission while offloading burdens and risk of executing them to machines.”

With the AML program set to transition to the LRPF CFT and their ASA (ALT) partners beginning Fiscal Year 2025, the successful live fire demonstration underscores the Army’s commitment to advancing warfighter capabilities through innovative technologies and collaborative partnerships with the warfighter and industry.

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About author:

Dylan Malyasov
Dylan Malyasov
Dylan Malyasov is the editor-in-chief of Defence Blog. He is a journalist, an accredited defense advisor, and a consultant. His background as a defense advisor and consultant adds a unique perspective to his journalistic endeavors, ensuring that his reporting is well-informed and authoritative. read more