AUSA NEWS: Textron Pitches Ripsaw for Army’s Robotic Combat Vehicle Program
Image: Textron Systems
Textron Systems, alongside its subsidiary Howe & Howe, and FLIR Systems, plan to submit their new Ripsaw M5 platform for the Army’s robotic combat vehicle program.
“Together this partnership and our focused investments provide a solution that optimizes the robotic combat vehicle for both the light and the medium” variants, said Lisa Atherton, president and CEO of Textron Systems. “This provides a multi-mission ready platform that is modular and scalable, with in-field reconfiguration based on the mission ... of the day.”
More than a decade ago, Howe & Howe delivered the first version of the Ripsaw to the Army, she noted during an unveiling Oct. 14 at the Association of the United States Army’s annual conference in Washington, D.C. The M5 is the fifth-generation version of the platform.
The Army is currently pursing the robotic combat vehicle, which is part of the service’s next-generation combat vehicle program. Army Futures Command is leading the effort, which is intended as a family of systems to replace the service’s aging legacy vehicles.
During the AUSA conference, the three partner companies displayed a Ripsaw M5 configured with a Kongsberg MCT-30 turret, but Atherton noted the system could easily be interfaced with a variety of other weapons including a medium-caliber cannon, a common remote weapons station, Javelin missile or anti-aircraft systems. The system could be used for route clearance, breaching and defeating improvised explosive devices.
“That is just the beginning of what we can do with this system,” she said.
The Ripsaw can reach speeds of well over 40 miles per hour, Atherton said, and may even have “a little more to give.”
The M5 also features a digital backbone that will allow the companies to “spiral in autonomous solutions” as they become available, Atherton added.
“These scalable robotic solutions have already been demonstrated in tele-operation, waypoint navigation and leader-follow operations,” she said.
The system also includes a hybrid-electric drive, which enables silent drive and silent watch, she said.
David Ray, president of FLIR Systems’ government and defense business unit, said the company had integrated real-time situational awareness technology into every aspect of the Ripsaw. It includes FLIR’s 360-degree situational awareness solution based on low-cost technology from its work with the automotive industry on autonomous vehicles.
“This makes the platform much easier to operate and will allow for future capability,” he said. “It's comprised of [electro-optical] and [infrared] 360-degree situational awareness that allows combat teams to detect and track threats day and night.”
The M5 also employs FLIR’s R80D SkyRaider unmanned tethered and untethered airborne quad-copter system for further situational awareness, Ray said.
SkyRaider “incorporates one of the fastest, most powerful embedded AI computing devices available in the small UAS market,” he said. “Configurability between tethered and untethered allows and enables a user to decide how best to use their system based on mission needs.”
The Ripsaw can also deploy a FLIR-built unmanned ground vehicle which offers “highly mobile solutions with dexterous manipulations for mounted and mobile operations,” Ray said. “With a thousand-meter range, we're able to extend standoff and really give our warfighters what they need for a multitude of missions.”
Atherton said the Ripsaw is the right system for the Army’s robotic combat vehicle program for both the light and medium variants.
“We have the experience, the heritage and the motivation to scale up rapidly” for the program, she said. “The sooner we can get this in the hands of the soldier, the sooner we can perfect how those systems will interoperate in the battlefield, providing the advantage the soldier needs and deserves.”