The US Army will launch a full-system prototype competition next year for a new light robotic combat vehicle.
According to FY23 budget documents, the service plans to spend nearly $700 million on the prototype competition from 2023 to 2027.
Up to five vendors will be selected to provide bid samples for evaluation. A request for proposals for the program will also be released by the third quarter of 2023.
The US Army will also spend $15 million next year to award contracts and evaluate submitted platforms.
A single vendor is expected to be selected in 2024, while the testing phase is slated to begin in the first quarter of 2026.
Current Prototyping Efforts
The US Army is currently implementing a phased surrogate prototype program for the cutting-edge Robotic Combat Vehicle – Light (RCV-L).
Massachusetts-based defense firm QinetiQ North America was awarded a contract in 2020 to lead the surrogate prototyping efforts.
The prototypes will undergo three cycles in which the vehicles will demonstrate their autonomous software, system safety, and cyber and spectrum resiliency.
The “design-upgrade-test” cycles will also allow soldiers to provide necessary feedback regarding the prototypes.
All data acquired will be applied in the full-system prototype competition.
The Robotic Combat Vehicle – Light
The surrogate prototype of the RCV-L is a diesel-electric hybrid unmanned ground combat vehicle primarily intended for reconnaissance missions.
It includes high-resolution situational awareness cameras, radar perception sensors, and other payloads such as the Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station – Javelin and tethered unmanned aircraft systems.
The vehicle weighs 3,855 kilograms (8,500 pounds) and has a maximum payload capacity of 3,175 kilograms (7,000 pounds).
The light vehicle travels at up to 40 miles (64 kilometers) per hour.
The RCV-L can be either remotely controlled by a soldier or operated semi-autonomously. It is expected to enhance warfighters’ mobility and lethality on the battlefield.