WASHINGTON, (BM) – As we have repeatedly reported this year, the US Army has conducted a series of tests on robotic infantry fighting vehicles of various shapes, characteristics and functionality. In a statement just a few days ago [November 11 – ed.] It became clear that the US Army has taken the next step – the commissioning of the first robotic combat vehicle, learned BulgarianMilitary.com.
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This is RCV-L, which is a joint development of QinetiQ Inc. and Pratt Miller Defense, with the new robotic combat vehicle provided to the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command [CCDC] Ground Systems Center [GVSC].
According to Michael Rose; Branch Chief for Robotic Combat Platforms, GVSC Ground Vehicle Robotics the delivery of the first robotic combat vehicle is the result of teamwork and collaboration only, both between the companies that manufactured the tool and between government agencies that have fully assisted in making it happen. According to Michael, despite the pandemic and the aggravated international situation due to the spreading coronavirus, everyone has managed to focus their efforts and make the planned delivery on time. By 2022, the US military is expected to receive more similar robotic weapons, and this delivery is the first of four planned in the coming years.
“We are proud to deliver the first Robotic Combat Vehicle to the U.S. Army,” said Laurent Lannibois, QinetiQ’s RCV Program Manager. According to Laurent, the delivered weapon is fully equipped and ready for integration into the US Army and can enter service immediately and carry out its combat operations without any problems.
What exactly is RCV-L? The RCV-L is the result of years of design, development and testing, according to Prat Miller, product manager Brian Barr. The vehicle is quite flexible in terms of its functionality and extremely maneuverable, as well as fast in terms of the speed at which it moves. The combat robotic vehicle itself has an autonomous mode of operation, which will allow it in the future to integrate into the overall tactical combat concept of military operations and to perform missions tailored to the devices with which it communicates and exchanges information.
As we said earlier, the contract between the US government and the manufacturer of the robotic combat vehicle includes the delivery of a total of four similar machines. Earlier this year, the United States commissioned Pratt Miller and QinetiQ to develop the first prototype, and according to official statements, the two companies were able to meet the challenges and time to deliver the first working robotic combat vehicle.
US announced the beginning of development a robotic unmanned artillery
The American army is unconditionally considered the strongest and most advanced in the world. In terms of the introduction of all new technologies, futuristic projects and robotics in particular, it is the US Army that is considered the pioneer. So, judging by the statement of the Pentagon press service, the United States is preparing to introduce robotic artillery, as we already reported on September 20 this year.
For the first time, futuristic technologies of unmanned combat began to be used in the development of artillery troops, reports comandir.com. Previously, a pilot-operator of the system was always required to operate artillery in combat. The first thing that will improve the robotic unmanned artillery of the future is the mobility of combat, informs comandir.com. Artillery barrage is considered the most vulnerable and immobile type of troops in combat. The deployment of anti-aircraft systems, the operator’s headquarters and other elements created a stable position for the army, which is very long and costly to move.
Robotic complexes, as planned by the Pentagon, will move around like typical military drones. After testing the system, it is assumed that such artillery will gradually switch to an automatic mode not only for movement across the battlefield, but also for automatic shelling of the enemy, reports comandir.com. Mike Murray, General of the US Army and Head of Advanced Development, personally announced that a prototype of the first robotic installation will be tested in exercises as early as October 2020.
Most of the work on the new system, which is actively being prepared for future implementation in all regiments of the US Army, was carried out by IT specialists, informs comandir.com. According to Murray, this is a requirement of the new era, in which war is becoming an increasingly technological action.
There is a future in the American robotic combat vehicles
As we reported earlier this year, the 4th Cavalry Division squad has conducted intensive research and field tests in August as part of the Robotic Combat Vehicle (RCV) program at Fort Carson, Colorado. These tests were aimed at checking the suitability and use of autonomous combat vehicles on the battlefield in the near future.
American soldiers conducted exercises with the performance of classic combat tasks with the use of command and control vehicles on modified M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles with a two-man crew and M113 remotely controlled armored personnel carriers.
According to the program director of Next Generation Combat Vehicle-Cross Functional Team U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Ross Coffman, this experiment is expected to end on August 14 this year. and is one of three trials of this type that relate to the RCV program. After the final completion of these tests, the army is to conduct an independent tactical and technical assessment of the tested robot vehicles and decide on the further fate of the program.
Interestingly, the military already at this stage declare that they have achieved 100% success thanks to the achievement of key goals, which is gaining new experience and skills. Despite the obvious shortcomings of the current level of advancement of available autonomous solutions and the resulting problems, many of the components tested in this experiment were expected to perform better than expected. This concerned, inter alia, the service-robot interface and the cooperation between the controlling vehicle and the robot vehicle.
The main challenges that were identified during the tests are: target recognition technology, stabilization of weapon systems in the field, or maintaining efficient and continuous communication between the steering vehicle and the robot vehicle at a distance of over 1000 meters.
At the turn of 2021 and 2022, it is planned to carry out the second stage of the trials in Fort Hood, Texas, using the same vehicles, which this time are to attempt operations at the company level. Then a third experiment is planned, with these vehicles facing more advanced company-level activities. In 2023, it is planned to make a final decision on the further fate of this program and its usefulness for the U.S. Army.
In January this year. U. S. Army announced the selection of two final bidders in the program to acquire new unmanned combat vehicles – light and medium [Robotic Combat Vehicle – Light and Medium], who are to build a prototype batch of their vehicles. The winners of the proceedings were QinetiQ North America and Textron, respectively.
The US military decided to send orders to both of these companies to build four prototypes in both versions – QinetiQ light and Textron medium. The prototypes provided by both companies will be subjected to comprehensive examinations and tests in order to determine their real suitability in combat operations on land. According to preliminary assumptions, factory trials are to take place at the end of 2021.
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