The Army has detailed plans for the medium variation of its robotic vehicle program, intended to provide direct fires capability, which will include up to two prototype deals for vendors to each deliver four test platforms.

Officials notified industry on Friday that a white papers request for the Robotic Combat Vehicle-Medium (RCV-M) program will be released at the end of June, and then the Army will solicit prototype proposals from select vendors.

2018 demo of an autonomous combat vehicle as part of a DARPA’s off-road autonomy program to support the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) Autonomous Ground Resupply Mission. (Courtesy Photo: National Robotic Engineering Center)

“The RCV-M is an attritable unmanned platform that augments its organic formation with direct fire capability and leverages on-board sensors to develop the common operating picture,” officials wrote in the notice.

Friday’s notice arrives just as the Army released similar plans for the RCV-Light at the end of May, which will also include two prototype deals for four test vehicles (Defense Daily, May 31).

While RCV-L is intended to be a reconnaissance platform, RCV-M will be designed to utilize autonomous capabilities to provide weapons effects on the battlefield.

“In essence, the RCV-M can covertly infiltrate to a position of relative advantage to achieve lethal effects on Armored Personnel Carriers, Trucks, and Troops using its on-board lethality package,” officials wrote in a draft requirements document. “The RCV-M’s aggressive mobility profile enables it to keep pace with its organic formation during off-road maneuver and movement on improved surfaces. Its on-board autonomy package reduces the cognitive burden of the operator while maintaining an aggressive cyber defense posture to maintain both assured control and the trust of the operator.”

Demonstrations for RCV-M are expected to include an Army-provided medium-caliber turret or a vendor-integrated system approved by the Army.

Officials said the robotic vehicle is expected to be transported by a C-130 H/J aircraft, and must be ready for use within 15 minutes of being dropped.

The robotic vehicle is required to carry at least 5,400 pounds and is intended to be controlled by either remote control, autonomous control via waypoint navigation or in a leader-follower scenario with another vehicle.

The Army did not specify when the proposal request would be released or when a prototype contract award is likely, but noted more details are likely to be included in the request for white papers, including information on an eventual follow-on production contract.