Army selects four companies for Robotic Combat Vehicle prototypes

By Ashley JohnSeptember 20, 2023

Detroit Arsenal, Michigan – The Army awarded agreements to four companies to design and build Robotic Combat Vehicle (RCV) platform prototypes in Phase I of a multi-phase Program of Record competition utilizing the Ground Vehicle Systems (GVS) Other Transaction Agreement (OTA). The agreements were awarded to: McQ, Inc. (Fredericksburg, Va.); Textron Systems Corporation (Hunt Valley, Md.); General Dynamics Land Systems (Sterling Heights, Mich.); and Oshkosh Defense, LLC (Oshkosh, Wis.). The total combined base award value is approximately $24.72 million.

The four awardees will each build and deliver two platform prototypes by August 2024 in support of platform mobility testing and a Soldier touchpoint. They will concurrently mature and deliver integrated system designs towards Army requirements for a lightweight, modular, and upgradeable robotic combat vehicle. This full system prototype award is part of the RCV-Light (RCV(L)) Middle Tier Acquisition – Rapid Prototyping program capability that could be transitioned to production and fielding to support the Army of 2030.

“The Army of 2030 and beyond will rely on systems with advanced technology and growth potential,” said Maj. Gen. Glenn Dean, program Executive Officer for Ground Combat Systems. “These are often developed by traditional and non-traditional business,” he said.

The RCV-Light will deliver increased situational awareness, lethality, and tactical options for Army formations in support of multi-domain operations. Its operators will remotely control RCVs or task them to operate semi-autonomously. Variants will serve as “scouts” or “escorts” for manned fighting vehicles.

Following Phase I, the Army will compete for Phase II, amongst the Phase I contractors and down select to a single awardee in Phase II in fiscal year 2025 to finalize system designs, build, and deliver up to nine full-system prototypes in fiscal year 2026. Further performance, reliability, and user testing of these systems will support a follow-on production decision in fiscal year 2027, and the first unit fielding is anticipated for fiscal year 2028.

“Human-machine integrated teams are the future of successful ground combat in the land domain,” said Brig. Gen. Geoffrey Norman, director of the Next Generation Combat Vehicles Cross Functional Team. “Bringing RCVs into our formations will give our Soldiers new capabilities to fight and win with the changing character of war.”

The Army selected vendors for the Phase I through an Other Transaction Authority business tool – a procurement process that allows federal agencies to enter into agreements with non-traditional defense contractors, such as small businesses, research institutions, and nonprofit organizations. Earlier this year, the Army also entered into three OTAs for RCV autonomous software development over the next two years with the Defense Innovation Unit.

“The program office is leveraging lessons learned from previous surrogate prototyping and operational pilots at the National Training Center (Fort Irwin, Calif.) to improve requirements and program of record acquisition strategies,” said Mr. Steve Herrick, product manager Robotic Combat Vehicle. “This marks the official transition for us out of experimentation and movement to a fieldable RCV platform prior to 2030,” he said.

The RCV program is part of the Army’s “24 in 23” Modernization Signature systems to be in the hands of Soldiers in fiscal year 2023. The surrogate prototypes have been in the hands of Soldiers since 2022 and is finishing a rotation at NTC in September 2023. Program Executive Office Ground Combat Systems is developing the RCV with the Next Generation Combat Vehicle Cross Functional Team, both based in Warren, Michigan.