When we talk about the use of drones in warfare, people normally think about UAVs like the famous Predator and Reapers, or the mass of similar designs that are now in use all around the world today. However, use of unmanned vehicles in combat on the ground has a long history.
As far back as World War Two, the Germans famously used the Goliath remote control vehicle to attack enemy positions and tanks and now lots of countries are exploring using Unmanned Ground Vehicles – or UGVs – in combat zones. But now we are heading into the realm of the Robotic Combat Vehicle – the RCV.
These are unmanned weapon systems, sometimes capable of of acting autonomously, that actually engage the enemy. Up until now, most have been fairly small and either not armoured or only lightly so, though often capable of carrying powerful weapons like anti-tank missiles.
But now Estonian-based manufacturer Milrem Robotics has demonstrated a new RCV that is designed to go head to head with the heaviest of opponents in combat and win.
The Type-X Robotic Combat Vehicle is intended to act alongside main battle tanks (MBTs) and infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs), capable of taking on the most dangerous tasks and therefore protecting soldiers who would otherwise have to carry out these roles.
Weighing in at 12 tons, the Type-X has a high power-to-weight ratio with a hybrid drive system.
This provide the RCV with a top speed across country of 30 mph both forward and in reverse, as well as a low heat signature.
Capable of carrying an autocannon in the 25mm to 50mm range, the new RCV is also air-droppable, capable of being carried in a C-130 Hercules.
Milrem Robotics state that the Type-X has an advanced remote control that will allow the operator to react as fast as if the RCV was a manned vehicle. Because of it’s lack of crew the vehicle is smaller and more survivable in combat conditions.
It remains to be seen whether the Type-X lives up to the hype and is as capable as it is being painted to be. But Milrem has good pedigree in the field of UGVs, with company’s TheMIS UGV seeing service with ten nations around the world now.
And there can be no doubt that, with many countries actively developing RCVs, vehicles like the Type-X are going to play a major part in the future of armoured warfare.