HDT opts to submit wheeled Robotic Combat Vehicle

By Nickolai Sukharev  / October 13, 2023

With the Army set to test prototypes of the Robotic Combat Vehicle, one contender believes wheels are more reliable than tracks.

“We think this concept gives us better mobility, lower cost, more range [and] less noise,” said Thomas Van Doren, who oversees engineering at HDT.

Unlike HDT, the other three contenders -- Textron, General Dynamics Land Systems and Oshkosh -- are offering tracked flatbed vehicles.

HDT is offering the Wolf-X, an eight-wheel-drive flatbed vehicle that features Michelin Tweels, commercial airless tires with rubber spokes that compress based on the payload weight the vehicle is carrying, according to the company. It has a range of more than 150 miles and weighs less than 16,000 pounds.

Van Doren added the vehicle has an internally developed hybrid engine, which he said would allow for rapid improvements.

“The fact that we have wheels and not tracks means we can drive this system at very high speeds for long periods of time,” Van Doren said, speaking with Inside Defense at the 2023 Association of the United States Army annual conference in Washington.

The company wouldn't specify the vehicle’s maximum payload weight other than to say it exceeds requirements and payload capacity could be developed in the future.

HDT’s bid is led by McQ, which will produce the sensors, while BAE Systems will provide the armament and situational awareness systems.

Designed to operate alongside crewed vehicles, the uncrewed RCV will function remotely as a scout or escort vehicle that can also carry several types of payloads. After exploring light, medium and heavy variants, the Army announced its intention to prioritize the light variant for the prototyping phase.

According to program documents, the Army requests the RCV have a 360-degree situation awareness system, function autonomously, carry modular payloads and be transportable by plane or helicopter.

Textron, General Dynamics Land Systems and Oshkosh had their vehicles on display at the 2023 AUSA conference.

Textron is submitting the RIPSAW M3, which weighs 13,000 pounds and can carry a 5,000-pound payload.

“It’s a perfect mix of size that gets you maximum payload capacity as well as improved transportability . . . to make sure that not only can you get it to the battlefield but get it around the battlefield,” said David Phillips, Textron’s senior vice president for land and sea systems.

The M3 derived from the company’s larger M5 tracked vehicle, which was previously down selected for the RCV medium variant before the Army prioritized development of the RCV light variant.

Philips added that the company’s development experience with the M5 informed its design decisions on the M3.

GDLS, which produces the Army’s Abrams and Stryker vehicles as well as the forthcoming Booker mobile protected firepower vehicle, is submitting the TRX 10-Ton, which weighs 5 tons and can carry a 5-ton payload (10,000 pounds).

Ray Moldovan, the company’s business development manager, believes the payload capacity of the TRX is a “pretty high differentiator.”

A producer of various wheeled vehicles for the Army, Oshkosh is also submitting a tracked vehicle, but the company did not specify weight or maximum payload capacity.

“Our offering on the RCV program is founded in the significant amount of hands-on government testing and soldier feedback informed the design that we have today,” said Patrick Williams, the company’s chief programs officer.