The Black Knight is an experimental unmanned ground vehicle that may one day replace the tank on battlefields.
Remote Controlled Armored Vehicle
The Black Knight is a remote controlled armored vehicle being developed by British defence company BAE Systems PLC. The unmanned ground combat vehicle is currently in the prototype phase. However, people in the global defense industry have high hopes for the Black Knight and see it as the future of ground warfare. Unmanned ground vehicles are operated remotely from a distance, and soldiers do not travel in them – keeping military personnel out of harm’s way.
While unmanned vehicles are mostly associated with aircraft and aerial drones, a growing number of unmanned ground vehicles are also being developed for use by militaries around the world. The Black Knight is one of the most sophisticated of the unmanned ground combat vehicles, and its development is at an advanced phase. In 2010, the U.S. Army was putting the vehicle through a series of evaluations.
Turret and Machine Gun
At five meters long and 2.5 meters wide, the Black Knight is very similar to a tank. It is operated by a 300 horsepower Caterpillar engine and can travel at the same speed as main battle tanks. Many of the automotive parts in the Black Knight are the same as in a Bradley Fighting Vehicle. The commonality of parts helps keep maintenance costs low. The Black Knight can be airlifted to combat zones worldwide by C-130 transport aircraft.
The Black Knight is armed with a 30 millimeter cannon that is mounted on a turret at the top of the vehicle. It also uses a 7.62 millimeter machine gun. The Black Knight is primarily controlled from a command center. However, the vehicle can also be operated by a Dismounted Control Device (DCD), which is essentially a large remote control.
The Black Knight’s advanced computer system allows it to perform several functions by itself – including moving the turret, navigation, and planning a travel route while avoiding obstacles such as rocks and water.