The US Army is going to use Robotic Combat Vehicles as part of OPFOR in all future exercises 08/07/2024 | Fabio Di Felice

As announced by Maj. Gen. Geoff Norman, who oversees the US Army’s combat vehicle modernization efforts, the service will use Robotic Combat Vehicles (RCV) to fight with the opposing force (OPFOR) in the upcoming exercises.

Despite being still far from having a doctrine and standard procedures for integrating RCV into human units, the US Army has decided to push its experimentation with RCV surrogates and prototypes to the next level. Using the training rotation events in the National Training Center, the opportunity is to evaluate the prototypes and study how the service should fight an opposing force with similar robotic capability. In accordance with the info provided by Maj. General Norman, in the next rotation a unit out of Fort Stewart in Georgia will go up against an RCV platoon. The next unit out of Fort Riley in Kansas will take the same RCV platoon and attach it to Blue Force.

Last year, the US Army selected McQ, Textron Systems, General Dynamics Land Systems, and Oshkosh Defense to build the light prototypes as part of RCV project Phase 1. The service is aiming to field the first unit in fiscal year 2028 following a production decision slated for FY27. With this aim, the National Training Center is working closely with an armor commandant’s office, the Maneuver Capability Development and Integration Directorate at Fort Moore, Georgia, to review the organizational designs for what an RCV platoon might look like and what other equipment it might require to operate. From there, the natural step forward is to work on some initial doctrine or standard operating procedures (SOP), to standardize some of the tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP) that robotic autonomous systems operators need.

In terms of prototyping control vehicles for the RCV, the US Army is assessing all the platforms available in its parking lot: Armored Multipurpose Vehicle (AMPV), BRADLEY Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV), STRYKER and Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV). At this stage, the service is collecting the soldier's feedback because, quoting Maj. General Norman, ‘that’s been essential to get it right up to this point.”

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