Military smartphone communication app could be a ‘game-changer’
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The British military could soon be communicating on the battlefield using a new mobile phone app loaded onto Samsung phones that has been labelled a “game changer” by a senior officer.
The Dismounted Situational Awareness Tool has already been tested by 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards (QDG).
“It is going to be a game changer,” QDG commanding officer Major Ben Parkyn said. “I think we will never get away from maps, and having to look people in the eye to understand intent, but the speed at which we can do that now is greatly enhanced.”
Parkyn said the Samsung mobile phones they have used are loaded with a series of programmes including the mission, intelligence and mapping app called Android Tactical Assault Kit (Atak).
The device is mounted to each commander using a colour-appropriate contraption that flips down to reveal the screen as and when required.
When the app and systems are fired up, it allows the user to share and post information, including their location, along with images, which can then be viewed by all those using it.
“If you see a minefield, or an IED, or a pocket of enemy, you can not only drop that on, you can take a photo of it,” Parkyn said.
“You could also then set a proximity alarm – so if you get within 500 metres of something or a weapons range, or whatever it was, then it would ping on your system.”
Parkyn said the technology has allowed the 1st QDG, which is a light cavalry regiment that specialises in reconnaissance, to be agile and light.
The 1st QDG used the technology during the recent US-led Exercise Sabre Strike involving 18,000 troops and 19 countries across the region which ended last week.
He described it as a long-awaited “common system” that has allowed the two countries to see each other, as well as providing the ability to send information and messages at speed, including to British Army headquarters.
Parkyn said: “The Americans we were testing with did not have the full-fat version, the better version and the updated kit, and they were looking at ours with envy – which, I can tell you, does not happen very often.”
The Dismounted Situational Awareness Tool is a US government-produced piece of equipment, the Ministry of Defence said.
UK troops are also experimenting with and testing prototype drones and unmanned cargo vehicles in a bid to reduce dangers to personnel in combat, the British Army will soon reveal.
The Autonomous Warrior experiment is set to be launched during the Royal United Services Institute land warfare conference on Wednesday in central London.
Alongside Royal Marines, an RAF Regiment platoon and the US Army, they will test and evaluate the effectiveness of a range of robotic and autonomous systems on the battlefield.
Defence minister Mark Lancaster said: “Our armed forces continue to push the limits of innovative warfare to ensure that we stay ahead of any adversaries or threats faced on the battlefield.
“Autonomous Warrior sets an ambitious vision for Army operations in the 21st Century as we integrate drones, unmanned vehicles and personnel into a world-class force for decades to come.”