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Turkey’s FNSS has declared its Shadow Rider optionally manned ground combat vehicle ready for operational development and is displaying the system at the IDEF 2023 defence exhibition, held in Istanbul from 25 to 27 July. 

FNSS first displayed its Shadow Rider heavy unmanned ground combat vehicle (H-UGV), which is based on the M113 armoured personnel carrier (APC), at the IDEF show in 2019. A further development of the concept featuring additionally sensors was then exhibited at IDEF in 2021 together with a software development simulator. 

The FNSS Shadow Rider H-UGV concept shown fitted with a Sancak remote weapon station. This variant is being shown at IDEF 2023. (Photo: FNSS)

Releasing details of the system in a press release on 24 July, FNSS said that the Shadow Rider “has been successfully used in an international military live exercise [in a] real-life operational scenario as a wingman”, putting it at technology readiness level 7, and that “many improvements have been implemented as a result of these field tests and exercises”. 

 FNSS says the Shadow Rider “has reached a much higher level of technological readiness in areas such as speed and direction stabilisation, route tracking, autonomous patrol, convoy tracking, drivable area detection and obstacle avoidance”.  

The Shadow Rider is Turkey’s first H-UGV development, but the system is presented by FNSS as “a viable and adaptable solution that provides autonomous capability to a conventional land platform with a kit that can be integrated into any armoured ground vehicle”, rather than only applying to an M113 APC. 

The company says the concept “has evolved into a family of autonomous unmanned ground vehicles that will serve in all kinds of missions, especially fire support”, adding that “new variants have been developed in accordance with different operational purposes, concepts specific to each variant have been created and detailed designs according to each concept have been shaped”. 

For example, the system can be configured as a logistics support vehicle, a fire support vehicle if fitted with a weapon system, a command vehicle, a tactical deception vehicle, an engineer reconnaissance vehicle, or an armoured ambulance. At IDEF 2023 FNSS is displaying the Shadow Rider with a stretcher for casualty evacuation as well as with an FNSS Sancak remote weapon station, which can armed with an M2 12.7 mm machine gun, a Mk19 40 mm automatic grenade launcher, or an M240 or FN MAG58 7.62 mm machine gun. 

Peter Felstead