The U.S. Army via Flickr

Live fire training just got a whole lot more realistic — and fun.Back in my day on the firing range, we used simple stationary targets, or maybe a few pop-ups. Later the Marines added moving targets on rails.

But now, notes David Hambling at Forbes, the Marines are going full Terminator — with “lifelike robot targets that move about in all directions, respond to being fired at, shout — and even charge the shooters.”

For now, at least, the robot targets don’t shoot back.

The targets are made by Marathon Targets, based in Australia.

This new ‘range of the future,’ known as G-36 was recently certified at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

The human-like targets mounted on robotic four-wheeled, Segway-like transports, writes Hambling, “can move anywhere, not just along predetermined tracks.  They can move at up to 11 mph — “sprint speed,” according to the makers — and can keep in formation or scatter in response to gunfire, among other moves.”

The targets are armored to survive live-fire and keep going, but they fold down and ‘fall over’ when hit. Hambling writes:

The aim is to create a realistic setting and turn marines into “pre-combat veterans” as Marathon’s publicity puts it, in a situation where the squad does not enjoy the numerical superiority which has been typical in recent wars.

But the robot targets aren’t the only new thing on this futuristic range, though. The range itself is more realistic.

As Hambling explains, unlike most live firing ranges which are flat devoid of any vegetation “for safety and convenience when conducting exercises,” the G-36 range “includes trees and grass tufts that the targets can take cover behind, as well as trenches and hummocks.”

Marine Corps Chief Warrant Officer 5 Joshua Smith said in a press release, according to Forbes:

G-36 adds the environment as part of the problem. In parts of the range, the trees play into the problem, as it is harder to see some of the enemy — just as it would be in real life.

Training on the G-36 live fire range is expected to be the final event in the 2nd Marine Division’s Marine Corps Combat Readiness Evaluation, an exercise to prepare troops about to deploy. G-36 is also a testbed of sorts for the Marines. We could soon see a lot more like it. Maybe even with targets that shoot back. Now that would be even cooler.

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