The US Army has begun detailed design work for its Multifunction Utility Logistics Equipment (MULE) vehicle, including a variant that will seek out and attack enemy combatants.

The six-wheel MULE, made by Lockheed Martin, was originally intended to carry supplies, search for bombs and conduct reconnaissance without human intervention.

An armed variant, the Armed Robotic Vehicle Assault-Light, will carry M240 machine guns and Javelin anti-tank missiles.

The US Army says it has completed the preliminary design review and is moving into detailed design.

It expects to complete the critical design review in 2009 and to take delivery of the first 16 prototypes in December 2010.

The MULE will be used by Future Combat Systems brigades.

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