Royal Marines use small drones to aid patrol missions

Royal Marines have used small drones to bring an edge to patrol training missions in Wales as they build up to Arctic deployment.

Mortar Troop of Arbroath-based 45 Commando took on a five-day tactical exercise that saw them tested in Future Commando Force small-team tactics in various environments, from urban zones to woodlands.

The commandos used small remotely piloted aerial systems – in other words, drones – to aid decisions made on the patrols at the Sennybridge Training Area in the Brecon Beacons. 

The drones fed real-time footage back to their Android Tactical Assault Kit (ATAK), which is a tablet that provides useful information for navigation and situational awareness.

This gave the commandos better foresight and a decisive edge when it came to reconnaissance and patrolling.

Colour Sergeant Jonathan Mosley, of Mortar Troop, said: “This has been the first opportunity for the marines to incorporate drone and ATAK navigation devices into their training. The response was very good. I’m really pleased with what we achieved.”

The exercise was designed to push the marines in essential patrol skills, but also to see the impact of intertwining those traditional skills with the new pieces of kit. 

During two hours of preparation time, the commandos used the tablets to study areas of interest, targeting locations and assessing the lay of the land using footage gathered by their drones.

Sgt Ash St-Hill added: “Incorporation of cutting-edge technology not only complemented our basic soldiering skills, but really added another dimension and provided a good insight into what we can expect as we develop the FCF concept.”

The marines were tasked with carrying out reconnaissance patrols to gather information, fighting patrols to disrupt their adversary and set up observation posts to study enemy movements.

Using their tablets and drones throughout, the marines worked in Sennybridge’s mock town training area testing urban and close-quarters battle skills and across wooded areas to push themselves in a range of environments. 

Mortar Troop are now preparing for mountain training in Scotland with the rest of 45 Commando as they build-up for the annual winter deployment to Norway.

 

This has been the first opportunity for the marines to incorporate drone and ATAK navigation devices into their training. The response was very good. I’m really pleased with what we achieved.

Colour Sergeant Jonathan Mosley