On October 8th, Textron Systems announced it would deliver an all-electric version of its M5 Ripsaw Robotic Combat Vehicle prototype to the US Army to experiment with in 2021.
The RIPSAW® M5 is mission ready. Visit our virtual booth at #AUSAnow to learn more about M5 and our wide range of products. Register today!https://t.co/4erbcL32Fw#AUSA2020 #TeamRipsaw #WeBuildCoolStuff pic.twitter.com/nKpDHCfjNE
— Textron Systems (@TXTSystems) October 3, 2020
In 2020, the Army selected a Textron team to develop its subsidiary Howe & Howe’s unmanned vehicle for the service’s Robotic Combat Vehicle, or RCV, Medium platform.
The Army wants to develop a light, medium and heavy version of the RCV to give commanders the option of sending unmanned vehicles into combat against enemy forces.
Initially, QinetiQ North America was selected to build four light versions of the RCV.
Textron is scheduled to deliver four prototypes of its 10-ton M5, which resembles a lightweight tank powered by diesel and hybrid electric motors, by the end of the year.
The idea of an e-battle tank sounds pretty attractive.
The Army also recently selected Textron to deliver an all-electric M5 as the service moves closer to developing electric-powered tactical vehicles.
“It’s a flat deck variant that we will be delivering for the all-electric version,” Sara Willett, program director for ground robotics at Textron Systems, told reporters, describing how the all-electric M5 will not have a cannon turret like the standard M5.
It’s essentially a battle tank that would blow up the adversary, but also not ruin the environment as much as a diesel-powered battle tank.
And making ground vehicles electric doesn’t start and end with the M5 Ripsaw, rather it’s simply one of the first, but the push is to electrify most of them.
In September, Army Futures Command directed the Maneuver Capabilities Development and Integration Directorate at Fort Benning, Georgia, to begin developing requirements for electrifying the service’s ground vehicles.
“One of the most exciting points of going all electric is the performance that we see,” Michael Howe, senior vice president from Howe & Howe, told reporters.
The M5 is “astonishingly powerful” with two 900-horsepower hybrid electric motors and a diesel range extender, Howe said.
“This range extender is just a generator, so it goes into the vehicle itself and allows the vehicle to go … to an extended range of out to 300 to 400 miles,” he explained.
The all-electric flat-deck platform “didn’t need a range extender for the scientific and military testing that [the Army] are doing with the vehicle,” he added.
“Essentially, it has the same exact power,” Howe said. “We are really on the precipice of seeing advancement in electric technologies throughout the military, and the M5 is the spear tip for this.”
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