Land Platforms

US Army moves forward with Robotic Combat Vehicle and Bradley replacement

03 April 2019

The US Army is converting some of its M113 armoured personnel carriers into armed robotic platforms. The service plans conduct its first RCV experiment in fiscal year 2020. Source: IHS Markit/Patrick Allen

The US Army is moving ahead with two initiatives under its Next-Generation Combat Vehicle (NGCV) umbrella with its upcoming Robotic Combat Vehicle (RCV) experiments and soliciting bids for a M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle replacement.

Pinned as the service's number two modernisation priority, the NGCV initiative will develop multiple manned and unmanned vehicles including the RCV, an Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV) to replace the Bradley, the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle, Mobile Protected Firepower, and a next-generation main battle tank (MBT). Brigadier General Ross Coffman, director of NGCV modernisation, told reporters on 27 March about plans to move ahead with the RCV, and trade-offs the service had to make when finalising OMFV requirements.

For the RCV, Brig Gen Coffman laid out the "crawl, walk, run" approach the service is using for ongoing virtual experiments that will "inform the final requirements" for three experiments. Industry is also involved and expected to participate in a 'robot rodeo' later this year.

"Because we are nested with industry, we are doing a robot rodeo this summer where we are asking industry to bring all of their robots that they currently have so we can identify … what is in the realm of the possible," Brig Gen Coffman explained during the 2019 AUSA Global Force Symposium & Exposition held in Huntsville, Alabama from 26 to 28 March. He added that the service is interested in mobility and autonomy, as well as different payloads that can be integrated onto different vehicle options for a light, medium, and heavy RCV.

The service will also conduct its first RCV experiment in fiscal year 2020 (FY 2020) at the platoon level. For this event, the service is building four robots "like" the M113 armored personnel carriers that will then be controlled by two surrogate vehicles, each with four soldiers in the back - one solider driving the vehicle, two soldiers controlling one robot, and one solider controlling the robot payload.

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