Soldiers To Start Testing Army’s New Robotic Combat Vehicles

Starting in 2022, the Army will start testing a prototype for a Robotic Combat Vehicle (RCV) after developing Light and Medium models of RCV starting in 2021 while working in small teams before the company-level evaluation for 2022. Soldiers with the 3rd Infantry Division tested the RCV over the course of two weeks consisting of live-fire testing and fighting parallel with the Next Generation Combat Vehicle. 

The RCVs were tested in late April 2021 at Camp Grayling, Michigan with platoon-level live fires, and the tests were conducted on a prototype platform before the RCV developers delivered the prototypes. These tests were conducted using a remote-control system from behind a berm with a tethered drone capturing video that feeds to locate the targets. 

The RCVs were also tested by striking enemy vehicles with corrections using Mk19 grenade launchers, M249 Squad Automatic weapons, and M2.50 caliber machine guns mounted on the RCV prototype stand-in. The Light RCV model features a hybrid system combining electric and diesel power with the total gross weight of the vehicle at over 8,500 pounds with a top speed of 40miles per hour. 

The Medium model or RCV-M has a similar diesel-electric hybrid engine with a vast difference in weight at over 25,000 pounds that is equipped with a remotely operated cannon and a top speed of over 25 miles per hour. These RCV models might seem slow but are optimal top speeds for the weight of these vehicles thanks to the combination of the technology behind the MUM-T network and MET-D vehicle. 

These features will be tested for the ability to control a Company’s set of RCVs with a total of 18 vehicles consisting of six MET-D control vehicles, four RCV-Ls, four RCV-Heavy systems (m113 personnel carrier surrogate), and four RCV-Ms. The whole fleet of vehicles can be operated simultaneously with the new system that is also being tested at Camp Grayling before its final move to Fort Hood. 

The Army will continue experimentation for RCVs in 2024 with the likelihood of making the decision to move the RCV-L model from technical maturation into focusing on the manufacturing and engineering development phase in the second 2023 fiscal quarter. The Army is currently planning to award separate contracts for the lead systems of each RCV program.