By Mr. Roger Teel (RDECOM)July 16, 2010
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - The Ripsaw, a prototype unmanned ground vehicle developed by Howe and Howe Technologies, Inc., proved to have "star power" as it displayed futuristic capabilities during a two-hour demonstration at a test range here July 14.
The demonstration will be highlighted this fall in the second season of Howe and Howe Tech, a Discovery Channel television program.
Called the world's fastest dual tracked vehicle, the Ripsaw was developed by the Howe brothers, Mike and Geoff, at their small production garage in Eliot, Maine.
According to the Howe and Howe website, they are, "...internationally known and respected for extreme vehicle fabrication and design ... a company that prides itself on outside the box thinking, hard work and never say die attitude, Howe and Howe Technologies has proven sharp minds with the right motivation can really make a difference."
A film crew from Authentic Entertainment, Inc., captured every moment of the ramp up to the demonstration as the Ripsaw was readied and the other prototypes being tested were connected to its platform.
The demonstration was attended by about 50 interested parties.
Climbing aboard the manned version of the Ripsaw, Mike Howe demonstrated the vehicle's power and maneuverability. His running commentary and conversations were recorded to provide narration for the television series.
"We're psyched," he said as cameraman Brandon Golnick moved into position. "This is what we've been waiting for, the opportunity to show what Ripsaw can do. And, yeah, it's a little nerve wracking."
According to an October 2009 article from the Foster's Daily Democrat, Foster, N.H., website, Howe & Howe Technologies are in line for $2.5 million government contract to weaponize the Ripsaw platform which will provide a full-size, high speed, all-terrain weapons platform.
According to demonstration coordinator, Brian McFadden, a systems engineer with the Joint Project Manager Nuclear Biological Chemical Contamination Avoidance - Obscuration Team, "the equipment being demonstrated is prototypes that are being used as 'test beds' to evaluate potential capabilities that could be used to satisfy Army requirements."
He added that the demonstration would stimulate dialog within the Army and help lead to clarification of future requirements.
In addition to the Ripsaw, systems demonstrated were a Screen Obscuration Module prototype called the UMR generator, the Multi-Mission Modular Weapon System Launcher and the Multi Spectral Material.
RDECOM's Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center had two Ripsaw vehicles available which could be remotely operated. The vehicles were suitable for mounting the other payloads.
McFadden said the UMR was developed by the Missouri University of Science and Technology. It was developed to demonstrate a smaller, lighter obscuration generator than the M56.
"We are using it in this demonstration because it's capable of being ground emplaced or mounted on a manned or unmanned platform, and was designed to be two-man portable" McFadden said.
"ARDEC has been working with Saab, South Africa, to develop the Multi-Mission Modular Weapon System and we're using it today to demonstrate the capability of firing 40mm, 66mm and 80mm rounds from one common launcher," he added. "This will demonstrate a launcher's flexibility to use numerous existing rounds of ammunition. It will also highlight the capability to use this launcher for both smoke screening and non-lethal missions. "