On June 30, the US military conducted a live-fire test of a Robotic Combat Vehicle-Medium (RCV-M) Ripsaw M5

M5 Ripsaw weighs about 10 tons, uses a diesel – electric engine, can reach a maximum speed of 40 km/h. The vehicle uses a Protector turret manufactured by Kongsberg Defense Systems with a remote control feature. The US Army has received four RCV-M prototypes, including the M5 Ripsaw, since early 2020. Further tests are being planned.

According to the Congressional Research Service, the US Army wants to study the integration of various types of modules for the RCV-M prototype, including the conventional remote-controlled weapon system (CROWS) with FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank missile, Mk44 Bushmaster II cannon, camouflage smoke system, parachute support, electronic warfare complex, and anti-drone (UAV).

M5 Ripsaw
M5 Ripsaw

The M5 Ripsaw can deploy small UAVs developed by FLIR Systems, providing 360-degree panoramic situational awareness as well as high-quality video of the combat environment. “We want to look at the integration of a turret, which was provided as government furnished equipment to the effort, onto the platform. We’re using high speed cameras to look at the platform, cannon, and turret dynamics. We’ve got data collection systems downrange to collect the dispersion information. Here, we’re evaluating the armaments integration, but the overall expectation is to get these into the Soldiers’ hands and perform some experimentation as part of a regular training regimen down at Fort Hood, Texas, next summer,” said Mike Mera, an engineer in the Remote Weapons Branch at Picatinny Arsenal.

The RCV-M program is a joint collaboration among the NGCV CFT, Product Manager Maneuver Combat Systems (PM MCS), Product Manager Soldier Lethality (PM SL), and Combat Capabilities Development Command. The RCV-M platform includes products from Textron, Howe and Howe Technologies, FLIR, and Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace (KDA). The verification exercise ensured the stringent requirements for the turret and host platform were not only met by design, but also in reality. Although this system has been in the works for approximately 18 months, this was its first live-fire test.

The RCV-M is one of three unmanned ground combat vehicles that the US Army will buy in the coming years. The US Army in December 2020 received 4 prototypes of Light Robotic combat vehicles (RCV-L) with a weight of about 7 tons. The Army has also announced a request to design a Heavy Robotic Combat Vehicle (RCV-H), with a weight of 20-30 tons, with firepower comparable to that of a light tank.

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