PackBot: German Army receives 127 new robots

The Bundeswehr is being equipped with small ground robots for reconnaissance and bomb disposal. Rheinmetall, meanwhile, is showing off an armed drone tank.

The German Army will receive 127 PackBot 525 ground robots, U.S. manufacturer Teledyne FLIR Defense announced last week at the Eurosatory military trade show in Paris. The tablet-controlled devices will be delivered to the Army before the end of July.

The German partner European Logistic Partners (ELP) from Wuppertal is responsible for this. The company has already supplied the Army with the predecessor PackBot 510. There, the device trades as „manipulator vehicle EOD small“. According to the Bundeswehr, it can be carried by one person.

The robot, which weighs up to 27 kilograms when fully equipped, belongs to the Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle (SUGV) class and is powered by an electric motor and a rubber track. The small drone tank has a gripper arm and is said to be able to dive up to two meters deep and overcome steep inclines.

The device can last up to eight hours on one battery charge and can move up to one kilometer away from the operator with a radio link. The range can even be extended by multiple relays. Communication via a fiber optic cable is also possible, for example when it is used in an environment with electromagnetic interference.

The PackBot can be modularly equipped for various tasks, including sensors to detect chemical and biological warfare agents or radiation. Reconnaissance of buildings, caves and sewers or bomb disposal is possible.

The new Model 525, which has now been ordered by the Bundeswehr, is equipped with improved HD cameras and a laser rangefinder.

According to the manufacturer, the PackBots are in use in 57 countries. On behalf of the U.S. military, the device is said to have helped remove more than 70,000 improvised improvised explosive devices (IED’s).

The German armed forces already have the tEODor mine-defusing robot. It can be equipped with various tools, including a shotgun. If necessary, tEODor can fire at suspicious objects and detonate them.

At Eurosatory, several manufacturers also exhibited drone tanks, including German defense contractor Rheinmetall’s Mission Master. It is designed for surveillance, troop transport or wounded recovery behind enemy lines.

For combat support, the Mission Master can also be armed with rocket launchers. At the Eurosatory military trade fair, Rheinmetall showed the land robot in a version that can fire multiple Israeli kamikaze drones from a type of mortar. The Group had previously demonstrated this with Polish weapons.

Image:PackBot 525 (Teledyne FLIR).

Autor: Matthias Monroy

Knowledge worker, activist, editor of the German civil rights journal Bürgerrechte & Polizei/CILIP.