The Army plans to issue requests for proposals (RFP) this spring for two new unmanned ground vehicles, a service official said March 23.
A final RFP for the Common Robotic System – Individual (CRS-I), a small reconnaissance vehicle whose platform will weigh less than 25 pounds, will be issued in late April or early May, said Bryan McVeigh, force projection project manager for the Army’s Program Executive Office for Combat Support and Combat Service Support.
A contract award for CRS-I’s engineering and manufacturing development is expected to occur in the first quarter of fiscal year 2018. The Army plans to achieve an initial operational capability in the fourth quarter of FY 2022.
Meanwhile, a final RFP for the Route Clearance and Integration System (RCIS) program is “imminent” and will be released as early as late March, McVeigh said at a National Defense Industrial Association ground robotics conference near Washington, D.C. RCIS would allow the rubble-clearing High Mobility Engineering Excavator (HMEE), built by JCB, to operate in unmanned mode in addition to its current manned mode.
A third Army UGV program, the new mine-clearing M160 Robotic Mine Flail, recently achieved a milestone by issuing its first system to a unit at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, McVeigh said. The system is built by Croatian firm DOK-ING.
The Army, which has been reevaluating its Squad Multi-purpose Equipment Transport (SMET) UGV program due to cost and schedule concerns, will soon ask industry to suggest SMET-type systems that could be tried out at a robotics rodeo in August. The Army later intends to equip two or three brigades with systems for a year of testing.
Another conference speaker, Jim Ryan, assistant program manager for joint service explosive ordnance disposal at Naval Sea Systems Command, said the Navy plans to begin production this fall of a new backpack-portable, bomb-disposing robot, the Advanced Explosive Ordnance Disposal Robotic System (AEODRS) Increment 1.
The Navy intends to buy 161 AEODRS Increment 1 systems over three years and begin fielding them in FY 2018, Ryan said. Northrop Grumman [NOC] is the prime contractor.
The Navy issued an RFP for a larger version, AEODRS Increment 2, in October and is now conducting source selection. The Navy plans to award a contract for Increment 2 later this year and begin fielding the system in FY 2020.