AUVSI: Lockheed's SMSS adds border security, counter-IED to its load

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Lockheed Martin's (booth 1657) Squad Mission Support System is known for helping lighten the load of soldiers as a cargo-carrying ground vehicle, but new ventures with the robot could soon see it working border patrol and scouting out improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan.

Director of advanced programs RA "Reggie" Grant says Lockheed is in the early stages of discussions with the US Department of Homeland Security and US Customs and Border Protection to use SMSS as a situational awareness and a casualty evacuation platform to use along the US borders, a climate and terrain similar to the vehicle's six-month deployment in Afghanistan the first half of this year, according to Myron Mills, program manager for SMSS.

"They have very similar needs to the army for logistics sustainment," he says.

The company is in the early stages of DHS collaboration, but "it looks like unmanned ground vehicles have a role in border protection," says Grant.

The US Army is also evaluating SMSS as a possible counter-IED platform. Through work with lab and combat engineers, Lockheed is working to inform the requirements for a capability development document for a future program of record, says Mills.

If this work progresses, it could mean a future dual role for SMSS in deployment, both as a load lightener and a counter-IED robot.

"The end state, they would like for a system like this to do both," said Mills.