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Live-fire testing with US Army robotic combat vehicles begins

The US Army has begun live-fire testing with its fleet of robotic combat vehicle-light (RCV-L) prototypes, including launching a Javelin from the platform, and will begin similar shakedown testing with its medium (RCV-M) prototypes imminently.

Major General Ross Coffman, the director of the Next-Generation Combat Vehicle Cross-Functional Team, spoke with Janes on 15 June to provide an update on RCV shakedown testing ahead of a soldier experiment in mid-2022.

Earlier this year the service received its fourth and final RCV-L from QinetiQ North America and Pratt Miller (now acquired by Oshkosh Defense). These tracked, diesel-electric hybrid platforms weigh less than 10 tonnes, can carry a maximum payload of 7,000 lb, travel up to 40 mph, and are outfitted with Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace's Common Remotely Operated Weapon Stations – Javelin (CROWS-J).

The RCV-Ls have now received government-development autonomy software, a new radio, and can be paired up with modified Bradleys that are called Mission Enabler Technologies –Demonstrators (MET-Ds) for manned-unmanned teaming work. The service has now begun shakedown testing at Camp Grayling, Michigan. This includes using the MET-D controlling the RCV-Ls and remotely firing its machine gun, grenade launcher, and even launching a Javelin.

“We're trying to determine what the optimal distance between the controller and the robot is,” Maj Gen Coffman said. “We're putting a lot of miles on them … trying to see if anything's going to break [to] allow our industry partners to go back and fix it and make it better.”

The US Army received its fourth RCV-M in May. It will now begin live-fire testing with the vehicles.  (US Army)

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