Home UK military uses AI technology to help soldiers shoot drones

UK military uses AI technology to help soldiers shoot drones

For the first time, soldiers in England are using artificial intelligence (AI) to help them shoot drones down from the sky.

Paratroopers from the 16 Air Assault Brigade in Colchester (a city 50 miles north-east of London) are being trained on how to use SmartShooter SMASH technology this week.

With a tagline of ‘one shot – one hit,’ the technology uses image processing software to detect ‘un-crewed air systems,’ before being able to target, track, and predict its movement.

This comes after an initial order of 225 SMASH sights were delivered under a £4.6 million Ministry of Defence contract in 2023. This can be fitted to an SA80 A3 assault rifle and other in-service individual weapons. The Ministry of Defence is the department responsible for implementing the defense policy set by His Majesty’s Government, with the headquarters being the British Armed Forces.

Speaking to the BBC, warrant officer (a senior non-commissioned rank) Joe Cooke said: “Our current option to target a drone is to just shoot at it, and they are small and mobile targets that are very hard to hit,”

“We’ve got medics and signallers on this course who, because of their role, don’t use their rifles as much as infantry and they are shooting with an accuracy that they have never achieved before.”

Use of AI in the military

In an official release published in October 2023, the British Army further explained its approach to AI, citing the benefits of having a competitive advantage and operating efficiency.

They outlined some milestones like having the ‘Army AI-ready by April 2024,’ with a further vision for 2030.

Within the April 2024 plan, they’ve highlighted how the ‘Army will be AI-ready when relevant parts of the workforce are enabled with a baseline AI digital literacy, data quality is enhanced, access to technology and established relevant processes required to deliver assured, safe, and responsible AI.

They aren’t the only ones who are planning to integrate AI technology though, as the same company – Smartshooter – secured a follow-on contract to supply additional SMASH 200L fire control systems to the US Army in October 2023. This is also to defeat drones.

Featured image: Image by Hung Lang Chen from Pixabay

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Sophie Atkinson
Tech Journalist

Sophie Atkinson is a UK-based journalist and content writer, as well as a founder of a content agency which focuses on storytelling through social media marketing. She kicked off her career with a Print Futures Award which champions young talent working in print, paper and publishing. Heading straight into a regional newsroom, after graduating with a BA (Hons) degree in Journalism, Sophie started by working for Reach PLC. Now, with five years experience in journalism and many more in content marketing, Sophie works as a freelance writer and marketer. Her areas of specialty span a wide range, including technology, business,…

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