QinetiQ, Pratt Miller Deliver First Robotic Combat Vehicle – Light (RCV-L) to U.S. Army

 In Americas, Land, Defense, U.S. Army, Forces & Capabilities

QinetiQ Inc. and Pratt Miller Defense announced the delivery of the first Robotic Combat Vehicle – Light (RCV-L) to the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC) Ground Vehicle Systems Center (GVSC).

The RCV-L is a purpose-built hybrid-electric unmanned ground combat vehicle (UGCV) integrating technology from both organizations. The vehicle, delivered to GVSC on Nov. 5, is the first of four systems to be delivered and the delivery marked the culmination of eight months of work and a major milestone for the RCV program’s industry/government collaboration.

“The delivery of the first RCV-L is an exciting result of numerous government organizations and industry working together to achieve our first combat ready robotic vehicle. This unit is the first of four vehicles developed in support of the Manned-Unmanned Teaming (MUM-T) Soldier Operational Experiment, planned for 2022, and represents a significant milestone for the program. QinetiQ and Pratt Miller have successfully developed and delivered these systems within budget and on-schedule even in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The GVSC team now plans to add Autonomous Mobility as well as Government Furnished Software for the Tethered UAS Multi-Mission Payload and CROWS-J Lethality package,” said Michael Rose, Branch Chief for Robotic Combat Platforms, GVSC Ground Vehicle Robotics.

“We are proud to deliver the first Robotic Combat Vehicle to the U.S. Army,” said Laurent Lannibois, QinetiQ’s RCV Program Manager. “This delivery will provide the Army with an unmanned vehicle ready for integration into ground combat operations. Our team’s ability to deliver this unparalleled and versatile capability on schedule while working through the unexpected challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic is commendable.”

The team hosted representatives from GVSC along with the Next Generation Combat Vehicle (NGCV) Cross Functional Team (CFT), and Program Executive Office (PEO) Ground Combat Systems (GCS) Product Manager Robotic Combat Vehicle (PdM RCV) the week prior to delivery at Pratt Miller’s New Hudson, MI facility. They demonstrated the RCV-L system and shared the progress of the follow-on vehicle builds.

“This is an important step forward for the RCV enterprise and, more importantly, for our Soldiers,” said Brig. Gen. Ross Coffman, director of the Army’s Next Generation Combat Vehicles Cross Functional Team. “We look forward to getting this prototype into the hands of our Soldiers and getting their feedback on how we can best utilize Robotic Combat Vehicles in defense of our great nation.”

The RCV-L is a purpose-built hybrid-electric unmanned ground combat vehicle (UGCV) configured to meet the specific needs of the program. It builds upon the proven maturity provided by the Pratt Miller Expeditionary Modular Autonomous Vehicle (EMAV) and integrates QinetiQ’s Modular Open System Architecture (MOSA) robotic control systems to make it both highly flexible, and payload agnostic.

Brian Barr, Pratt Miller Product Manager, described the RCV-L, “By building upon years of EMAV development, testing, and experimentation with the United States Marine Corps, we were able to provide the Army with a mature low-risk system that exceeds the objective level speed, maneuverability, and payload requirements in a single system configuration. The EMAV platform’s modular flat deck architecture has been integrated with over 20 payloads and exemplifies the flexibility required to address current and future threats.”

The RCV-L Prototype Project was awarded to QinetiQ North America (now a wholly owned subsidiary of QinetiQ Inc.) with major subcontractor Pratt Miller, in March 2020 through the National Advanced Mobility Consortium (NAMC). The agreement includes the delivery and support of four RCV-L platforms with procurement options for up to 16 additional RCV-L systems.

U.S. Army Robotic Combat Vehicle (RCV) Program

The U.S. Army is developing a family of armed unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) through its Robotic Combat Vehicle (RCV) program, under the larger Next Generation Combat Vehicle (NGCV) program.

The program is led by the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC) Ground Vehicle Systems Center (GVSC).

The unmanned vehicles, which are to be operated from the manned combat vehicle, can make contact with the enemy before the Soldiers do while achieving overmatch–decisive mobility, survivability, and lethality–against future operating environment threats. The unmanned platforms can also conduct nuclear, biological and chemical reconnaissance while keeping Soldiers in a manned platform at a safe distance.

Even though the RCVs are to be remotely operated by Soldiers, there are still ongoing efforts to offload some tasks in operating RVCs to artificial intelligence (AI) in order to reduce the cognitive burden on the operators.

The RCV family includes three variants:

• RCV-Light (RCV-L) – can be transportable by a rotary-wing aircraft.
• RCV-Medium (RCV-M) – can fit in the cargo hold of C-130 Hercules tactical airlifter.
• RCV-Heavy (RCV-H) – can fit in the cargo hold of C-17 Globemaster III strategic airlifter.

Both future and legacy armored platforms, such as the forthcoming Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) “light tank,” could influence the development of the RCV heavy. With no human operators inside it, the heavy RCV can provide the lethality associated with armored combat vehicles in a much smaller form. Plainly speaking, without a crew, the RCV heavy requires less armor and can dedicate space and power to support modular mission payloads or hybrid electric drive batteries.

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