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MON was among the AUSA delegates to be introduced to the RIPSAW M5 unmanned ground combat vehicle on 14 October. The vehicle was unveiled by Team Ripsaw, an industry team led by Textron Systems and including its own Howe & Howe subsidiary and FLIR Systems.

This most recent version of the RIPSAW UGV family is a rugged vehicle with an 8,000lb (3,629kg) payload competing for the US Army’s Robotic Combat Vehicle – Medium (RCV-M), that will enter experimental field tests in 2021. A lighter version of the same robot, with many of the same components, is expected to be Textron’s entry for the RCV-Light, small enough to still be carried by a helicopter as an underslung load.

Textron Systems President & CEO, Lisa Atherton, called attention to the M5’s modularity and scalability – attributes of similar vehicles MON has seen at this AUSA being eyed for the RCV competition.

The M5 unveiled at AUSA is fitted with the Kongsberg MCT 30 (Medium Caliber Turret 30), but “is easily interfaced with a medium-calibre cannon, enclosed [CROWS] JAVELIN, anti-aircraft systems, or used for route clearance, breaching, IED defeat – and that is just the beginning of what we can do with this system,” Ms. Atherton explained.

The RIPSAW M5’s diesel-electric hybrid electric drive train reportedly allows the vehicle to conduct ‘silent drive’ and ‘silent watch’ missions.

The M5 on display was said to be a working, operating prototype, capable of reaching speeds of more than 40mph. “I think she still has a little bit more to go [in land speed],” Ms Atherton opined.

David Ray, President of FLIR Systems’ Government and Defense business unit, explained that the M5’s real-time 360° situational awareness is enabled by his company’s products and systems, some of which include: EO/IR for 24/7 capability and the R80D SKYRAIDER system, which incorporates “one of the fastest, embedded AI computing devices available in the small UAS market.” The onboard sensor package is reportedly able to provide the operator with “1,000m range and we’re able to extend standoff and really give our warfighters what they need for a multitude of missions.” The strength of the RIPSAW M5’s enabling software expertise was articulated by Mr Ray, who called attention to the SKYRAIDER’s capability to control multiple UAS at one time.

While Team Ripsaw awaits the US Army’s formal requests for proposals (RfP) for the RCV programme, the buzz on the conference floor expects the RfP for RCV-Light to be issued this December and that for RCV-Medium to be released in the first quarter of 2020. Team Ripsaw expects to deliver four vehicles for each sub-programme competition.

While Ms Atherton concluded that it is still “too early” to speak with non-US ground services about RIPSAW M5, she also predicted “I am sure they [other non-US services’ delegates] will be at our booth this week.”

Marty Kauchak

RIPSAW M5 – everything from the name to the imposing physical aspect of the vehicle speaks to its potentially lethal effect on tomorrow’s battlefield. (Photo: Textron Systems)

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