Sunday, April 11, 2021

Modern ground drones - the Robotic Combat Vehicles (Light and Medium)

 To kick this off, all of the information here is tentative and based on news reports of prototypes delivered for testing. Everything about these programs could change tomorrow. With that caveat in place, let's dive in to two new robotic vehicles.

The Robotic Combat Vehicle program is intended to provide scouts, light combat vehicles, and "wingmen" for armored vehicle crews. The first two of these are in the prototype phase now (2021). The current prototypes require two remote crew, a driver and gunner. The stated goal is to reduce the driver's input over time to just combat situations, with the vehicle having an on-board driving system to get it from the reserves to its deployment area, at which point the driver will take over. The gunner is expected to always be in the loop, with the on-board electronics having no ability to make a fire decision.

 The Robotic Combat Vehicle-Light (RCV-L) is intended as a scout, with 2 being transportable by V-22 Osprey or CH-47 Chinook. The base vehicle is 6,800 pounds and can carry 7,200 pounds of equipment, mostly mounted on a large flat deck. The standard expected equipment is a Kongsberg CROWS II (RS4) Remote Weapon Station, fitted with an M-240 7.62mm machine gun and a single Javelin anti-tank guided missile. It also has a tethered Hoverfly drone for enhanced spotting capabilities. Most of the vehicle is lightly armored, with only the "brains" (computers and some sensors) armored to be proof against 7.62mm strikes. It's considered "attritable" (i.e. losses are acceptable), and it's felt it can be useful as a sensor post even if it loses mobility and weapons use.

The Robotic Combat Vehicle Medium (RCV-M) is a larger vehicle intended to engage opposing light vehicles, with 1 being transportable by a C-130 Hercules. At around 21,000 pounds, it's a bit beefier than the RCV-L. It carries a Kongsberg MCT-30 (RT40) turret, which is expected to be fitted with a Bushmaster II 30mm autocannon, a pair of Javelin ATGMs, and (in my opinion) probably a coaxial M-240 machine gun. The autocannon has 2 independent 75 round ammunition bins that it can select from for flexibility. In addition to a tethered R80D SkyRaider drone, it also carries an SVGV ground drone for scouting. The SVGV is a 30 pound drone capable of a top speed of 10 kilometers per hour with a ~6 hour endurance, capable of going places the RCV-M won't fit.

Both vehicles have parenthetical armor values for their hull. The former value is used for most hits, while the latter is used if the "crew" would be injured. As an alternative if this is too complicated, use the parenthetical value for Hull hits and the lower value for Suspension hits.

For weapons stats, I recommend using Paul Mulcahy's pages on US Machine Guns for the M-240, US Autocannons for the Bushmaster II, and US ATGMs for the Javelin.

Speeds are a guess because numbers from the news articles are all over the place. They're hybrid vehicles, and the 72 hour endurance is from the program requirements because there's no information yet on fuel capacities or consumption.

Robotic Combat Vehicle-Light

Fire Control: +1
Stabilization: Basic
Armament: FNH USA M-240E6, Javelin ATGM (all in Remote Weapon Station)
Ammo: 1000x7.62mm, 1xJavelin
Fuel Type: D
Veh Wt: 3.08 tonnes/6.35 tonnes (bare/full load)
Crew: 0
Maint: 2/3
Tr Mov: 246/163
Com Mov: 34/22
72 hour endurance outside of combat

Config: Veh
Susp: T: 2
HF 1 (2)
HS 1 (2)
HR 1 (2)
TF 1
TS 1
TR 1



Robotic Combat Vehicle-Medium

Fire Control: +1
Stabilization: Basic
Armament: 30mm Bushmaster II, coaxial M-240E6, Javelin ATGM (all in turret)
Ammo: 2x75x30mm, 400x7.62mm, 2xJavelin
Fuel Type: D
Veh Wt: 9.53 tonnes
Crew: 0
Maint: 5
Tr Mov: 218/136
Com Mov: 30/19
72 hour endurance outside of combat

Config: Veh
Susp: T: 4
HF 2 (5)
HS 2 (5)
HR 2 (5)
TF 5
TS 5
TR 5

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