Skip to main content

Ryan Robertson

Anchor, Investigative Reporter

Share
U.S.

Drone-hunting robot ‘tank’ could be US Army’s new workhorse

Oct 13, 2023

Share

Ryan Robertson

Anchor, Investigative Reporter

Share

The United States is gearing up for a potential fight with China. For the Navy, Air Force and Marines, that mainly means robotic aircraft, boats and submersibles. For the U.S. Army, it’s robotic combat vehicles (RCVs) like the TRX SHORAD from General Dynamics Land Systems.

QR code for SAN app download

Download the SAN app today to stay up-to-date with Unbiased. Straight Facts™.

Point phone camera here

The TRX SHORAD is a diesel-electric hybrid tracked vehicle with short range air defense capabilities. It was recently named “Best New Product” at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual convention — and for good reason.

TRX stands for Tracked Robot 10-ton. It serves as the base chassis for a growing list of payloads. As the name implies, it weighs about 10 tons — significantly less than every main battle tank currently in use by world militaries. The TRX can be transported on a CH-47 Chinook helicopter or a C-130 airplane.

The TRX is also able to generate what GDLS describes as “exportable power.” Essentially, whatever power a payload may require, the TRX will be able to meet the need.

In the SHORAD variant, it’s armed with a 30 mm cannon and eight Stinger missiles. Stingers were originally designed as shoulder-launched heat-seeking missiles. They are effective against helicopters, low-flying planes and drones. The 30 mm cannon will take care of smaller unmanned aerial systems, like the ones being used in Ukraine.

The TRX SHORAD can provide close air support for soldiers trying to operate in contested environments. The 30 mm cannon is also effective against enemy ground troops and some lightly armored vehicles.

GDLS said in a post on X that the “TRX SHORAD is designed to bring a new dimension of combat power in SHORAD battalions and provides autonomy within a tiered, layered air defense.”

The TRX boasts a class-leading 1:1 payload capacity ratio. So, aside from the SHORAD configuration, GDLS said the TRX can carry just about any configuration the Army wants.

For instance, a promotional video from GDLS shows a TRX configured to carry what appear to be 24 tube-launched Switchblade 600s made by AeroVironment. Switchblade 600s are precision strike loitering munitions, designed to take out tanks and other armored vehicles.

The TRX is one of four robotic platforms the Army is reviewing for its Robotic Combat Vehicle Competition. GDLS will submit two prototype variations of the TRX during Phase 1 of the open competition. The prototypes are scheduled to be delivered to the Army in August 2024.

“We are honored to have been chosen to continue to work with the Army on the Robotic Combat Vehicle program,” said GDLS Vice President and General Manager for U.S. Operations Gordon Stein. “TRX features innovative thinking, ranging from its AI-enhanced design to advanced, lightweight materials and a hybrid-electric propulsion system. Its power and size make it an ideal platform for multirole Human Machine Integration on today’s battlefield.”

In a similar fashion to how the Navy and Air Force want Collaborative Combat Aircraft to fly in formations with human pilots, the Army wants robotic vehicles to maneuver at speed with human soldiers as well, a concept called Manned Unmanned Teaming (MUM-T).

Recently, the Army Science Board performed an independent analysis of the M1 Abrams tank and found it won’t be able to dominate the 2040 battlefield. The Army hopes smaller RCVs like the TRX can help the U.S. maintain its position as the world’s foremost land force.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

THE UNITED STATES IS GEARING UP FOR A POTENTIAL FIGHT WITH CHINA. FOR THE NAVY, AIR FORCE AND MARINES THAT MAINLY MEANS ROBOTIC AIRCRAFT, BOATS, AND SUBMERSIBLES. FOR THE US ARMY, IT’S ROBOTIC COMBAT VEHICLES LIKE THE TRX-SHORAD FROM GENERAL DYNAMICS LAND SYSTEMS.

THE TRX-SHORAD IS A DIESEL-ELECTRIC HYBRID TRACKED-VEHICLE WITH SHORT RANGE AIR DEFENSE CAPABILITIES. IT WAS JUST NAMED BEST NEW PRODUCT AT THE ASSOCIATION OF THE US ARMY’S ANNUAL CONVENTION, AND FOR GOOD REASON.

TRX STANDS FOR TRACKED ROBOT 10-TON. IT SERVES AS THE BASE CHASSIS FOR A GROWING LIST OF PAYLOADS.

IN THE SHORAD VARIANT, IT’S ARMED WITH A 30 MM CANNON AND EIGHT STINGER MISSILES. STINGERS WERE ORIGINALLY DESIGNED AS SHOULDER-LAUNCHED HEAT-SEEKING MISSILES. THEY’RE EFFECTIVE AGAINST HELICOPTERS, LOW-FLYING PLANES AND DRONES. THE 30 MM CANNON WILL TAKE CARE OF SMALLER UNMANNED AERIAL SYSTEMS, LIKE THE ONES BEING USED SO PREVELANTLY IN UKRAINE.

THE TRX-SHORAD CAN PROVIDE CLOSE AIR SUPPORT FOR SOLDIERS TRYING TO OPERATE IN CONTESTED ENVIRONMENTS. THE 30MM CANNON IS ALSO EFFECTIVE AGAINST ENEMY GROUND TROOPS AND SOME LIGHTLY ARMORED VEHICLES.

THE TRX HAS A CLASS-LEADING 1:1 PAYLOAD CAPACITY RATIO. SO, ASIDE FROM THE SHORAD CONFIGURATION, GDLS SAYS THE TRX CAN CARRY JUST ABOUT ANY CONFIGURATION THE ARMY WANTS IT TO.

FOR INSTANCE, A PROMOTIONAL VIDEO FROM GDLS SHOWS A TRX CONFIGURED TO CARRY WHAT APPEAR TO BE 24 TUBE-LAUNCHED SWITCHBLADE 600S MADE BY AERO VIRONMENT. YOU CAN SEE AEROVIRONMENT’S LOGO RIGHT THERE. SWITCHBLADE 600S ARE PRECISION STRIKE LOITERING MUNITIONS, DESIGNED TO TAKE OUT TANKS AND OTHER ARMORED VEHICLES. A ROBOTIC FLATBED CARRYING 24 SWITCHBLADES IS PACKING QUITE A PUNCH.

THE TRX IS ONE OF FOUR ROBOTIC PLATFORMS THE ARMY IS REVIEWING FOR ITS ROBOTIC COMBAT VEHICLE PROGRAM.

SIMILAR TO HOW THE NAVY AND AIRFORCE WANT COLLABORATIVE COMBAT AIRCRAFT TO FLY IN FORMATIONS WITH HUMAN PILOTS, THE ARMY WANTS ROBOTIC VEHICLES TO MANEUVER AT SPEED WITH HUMAN SOLDIERS AS WELL. A CONCEPT CALLED MANNED UNMANNED TEAMING.

AFTER AN INDEPENDENT ANALYSIS OF THE ABRAMS TANK SHOWED IT WON’T BE ABLE TO DOMINATE THE 2040 BATTLEFIELD, THE ARMY HOPES SMALLER, RCVs LIKE THE TRX CAN HELP THE U.S ARMY MAINTAIN ITS POSITION AS THE WORLD’S FOREMOST LAND FORCE.