RCV-Light - U.S. Army robotic armored combat vehicle prototypes

RCV-Light Robotic Combat Vehicle
RCV-Light Robotic Combat Vehicle

Militarymedia.net - The U.S. Army has received its prototype light and medium-sized Robotic Combat Vehicle (RCV) from an industry team and put it on pace this year ahead of a major enterprise-level army assessment by 2022.

The service received the first shipment of four RCV-Light vehicles from the QinetiQ North American team and Pratt Miller - who won a contract to produce the prototype a year ago - in November 2020 with the other three arriving before the Christmas break, Alfred Grein, managing director and deputy executive director of Army Combat Systems at the Army Combat Capability Development Command, said at the U.S. Army Association's next virtual symposium on March 16.

The RCV-L is a diesel-electric hybrid weighing no more than 8,500 pounds and a maximum payload of no more than 7,000 pounds, with a top speed of about 40 miles per hour, according to Grein.

Four prototypes were sent to the Army's Vehicle Systems Center where a team began integrating government-developed Robotic Technology Kernel (RTK) autonomous software into the platform, Grein said.

After a functional inspection, the prototype was sent to the Texas A&M University's Rellis campus where, during February, the team was able to pair it with a Mission Activation Technology Demonstrator - or MET-D vehicle - to begin unmanned cooperation. process, he added.

While the Army expects to receive RCV-Medium prototypes from the Textron, Howe &Howe and FLIR teams from late April to May, the service received an early delivery of the RCV-M which was partially completed in mid-February to begin integrating RTK software.

The RCV-M is also a diesel-electric hybrid weighing 25,000 pounds. The vehicle was equipped with a remotely operated 30 mm gun and had a top speed of more than 25 miles per hour, according to Grein.

The service is already conducting RCV assessments in Fort Carson, Colorado, by 2020, but is focused on heavy vehicles and used replacements, so is now preparing to conduct other army operational experiments at Fort Hood, Texas, from June to August 2022. with prototypes selected for RCV-L and RCV-M.

This year, both RCV-L and RCV-M will go through search testing at Camp Grayling, Michigan, from April to September.

"Once the search is successful, paired with our MET-D vehicle and MUM-T network, it will be tested for its ability to control a set of Company RCV consisting of 18 vehicles" - four RCV-L, four RCV-Ms, four RCV-Heavy Systems (replacement for the M113 personnel carrier) and six MET-D control vehicles, Grein said.

All of that will be operated simultaneously, he said.

The whole process will be tested at Camp Grayling before moving to Fort Hood.

The vehicle's next stop is the Army's Test and Evaluation Command for safety testing - both individually and combined with met-D - in November before a major event in 2022. Testing will be completed by May 2022, Grein said.

The Fort Hood experiment will begin with army training in vehicles followed by situational exercises and then to live fire drills, he added.

"We know that these events will certainly help shape the future for Army robotics systems and the requirements in meeting the capabilities we have been asked to do in terms of the application of robotic and autonomous systems," Grein said.

The Army plans to conduct another experiment for RCV in 2024, but will likely make the decision to move its RCV-L out of technical maturation and into the engineering and manufacturing development phase in the second quarter of fiscal year 2023. The service will perform the same as the RCV-M program in FY24. The Army plans to award separate contracts to major system integrators for each RCV program.

The service said there was potential for the RCV-H program to be recorded far behind the light and medium RCV.

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