New Army technologies tested on Cyprus hills

Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment (2 YORKS) had the privilege of trialling a range of innovative systems on the Mediterranean island in March.

During what was designated as the Light Force Battalion Concentration, troops were tasked to test the equipment to determine its feasibility for future use across the British Army.

Some of the new platforms included the Dismounted Situational Awareness (DSA) device, an advanced communications system, the Assault Rifle In-Line Low Light Sight (ARILLS), a nano-unmanned aerial system (UAS), and two different Robotic Platoon Vehicles (RPVs).

Lieutenant Colonel Ashworth, Commanding Officer (CO) of 2 YORKS, said: “We were really fortunate to be selected by the Army to carry out a programme over three years of experimentation, which has tried to bring light forces forward in terms of lethality.

“We have really tried to advance how the infantry is going to operate. We have had great opportunities to test that out here in the rugged terrain of Cyprus. We recognise the privilege, but also the responsibility of being the architects of how the Army will fight in the future.”

The equipment trialled by 2 YORKS could shape tomorrow’s battlespace in a number of different ways.

Firstly, the DSA provides personnel with better ground appreciation and a greater understanding of both friendly forces and enemy dispositions across the mission area.

The new communications system grants each personal radio the ability to act as a rebroadcast station, vastly increasing the range of tactical communications.

The ARILLS, which can be fitted onto the SA80 A3 rifle with ease, allows soldiers to conduct more thorough reconnaissance and hit the target more often at night.

Nano-UAS devices, commonly known as ‘drones’, enable friendly forces to observe the enemy long before their fighters know anything about the presence of British troops.

Finally, the RPVs reduce the logistical burden on infantry units by enabling the rapid, unmanned ferrying of extra ammunition to the front line and evacuating the wounded to rear areas.

Captain Fisher, 2 YORKS, said: “Being able to outthink your enemy is absolutely critical. Having state-of-the-art kit allows you to keep the enemy on the back foot and conduct the find function more dynamically – finding the enemy more quickly than they can find you.

“We have trialled sights that are able to outrange the enemy and UAS that can identify them and target them ahead of time. My job is to understand the threats that we might face. We can adapt our training and tactics to fight that threat.”

The soldiers on the Concentration were under no illusions, however, that the base standard of infantry skills and drills, learnt in arduous conditions during training in Catterick Garrison and maintained in Cyprus, are still as important as ever.

‘Ideas into operations’ is the motto of this particular strand of Army innovation and everything that 2 YORKS does in its experimentation role could help to save the lives of deployed British service personnel in the future.

Lieutenant Colonel Ashworth said: “You really validate this when you take it on operations. That’s what we will take forward, it’s what we did on Operation Pitting (the non-combatant evacuation from Afghanistan) last year and no doubt will do again.”