Textron Systems announced its offer for the US Army’s Robotic Combat Vehicle (RCV) program at the annual meeting of the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) in Washington DC.
The company has developed the Ripsaw M5 for the competition, which Textron says’ provides aggressive mobility and multi-mission modularity.’
The aircraft, developed in partnership with FLIR Systems–the manufacturer of the Black Hornet Micro Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)–and Howe & Howe uses FLIR system software to capture a 360-degree view of its surroundings and can accommodate a number of payloads, including medium-calibre cannons, Javelin missiles and mine-clearing equipment.
Textron’s video shows a small UAV being launched from the platform giving the vehicle enhanced ISR capabilities.
Unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) give the military unique opportunities to improve security and lethality by using larger-scale weapons while also keeping troops out of harm’s way. UGVS also tends to be lighter and smaller than conventional main battle tanks and armored vehicles because they do not need to transport personnel.
Announcing the vehicle Textron wrote: “The team has invested up-front in key technologies to demonstrate that the Ripsaw M5 is mission ready to provide the US Army confident execution with uncompromising technology, including real-time situational awareness systems, remote weapons stations and terrain engagement systems.”
FLIR Systems’ government and defence business unit president David Ray said: “Incorporating our world-class intelligent sensors and unmanned assets on the Ripsaw M5 will provide a leap-ahead technology solution for the Army.
“From cameras delivering 360-degree situational awareness to surveillance gimbals, tethered drones and ground robots, we’ll give our troops a tactical edge by keeping them on technology’s edge.”
Textron Systems President and CEO Lisa Atherton said: “Bringing together Howe & Howe, Textron Systems and FLIR Systems really represents a dream team.
“We formed this team based on our shared focus to serve this customer with disruptive ideas and proven experience, and we are dedicated to meeting and exceeding their requirements through the RCV program. We are confident that the Ripsaw M5 is their ideal wingman, and that we can get these vehicles out into the field where they need them – quickly.”
Textron was not the only company to show off heavily armed robotic vehicles at AUSA; BAE Systems also used the event to unveil its Robotic Vehicle Demonstrator with a 30 mm cannon.
The US Army is currently undergoing a cross-domain campaign to build and improve a variety of unmanned solutions. These include a SeaHunter unmanned surface vessel (USV) and US Navy plans for an optional corvette-sized USV.
The US Army is also in the process of running its optional combat vehicle program to replace the Bradley infantry fighting vehicle, which would facilitate manned and unmanned operations.
On the air side, the US Air Force has been using the UA for many years.