Howe & Howe Ripsaw: A next-generation remote-controlled tank

Howe & Howe Ripsaw UGV
Howe & Howe Ripsaw: A next-generation remote-controlled tank (Photo: Howe & Howe)

Howe & Howe showcased its state-of-art next-generation remote-controlled tank Ripsaw shortly after Russia unveiled its new Armata platform and new T-14 battle tank in 2015. One of the major Russian innovations in the Armata platform was a remote-controlled turret.

At the same time, the United States has demonstrated its newest achievement in remote-controlled drones and demonstrated its project and released pictures showing a new next-generation remote-controlled tank named RIPSAW.

Introduction

The Ripsaw UGV is a developmental unmanned ground vehicle (UGV), and it is considered also a light tank or special vehicle. It is designed and built by Howe & Howe Technologies for the United States Army. It is still on evaluation, and it’s not yet revealed when is expected to enter service, naturally if accepted by the US Army.

howe and howe ripsaw EV2 light tank
Ripsaw EV2 light tank is an unmanned guided vehicle designed and manufactured by Howe & Howe (Photo: Howe & Howe)

The Howe brothers started the project in 2000. In a first manner, it was a small family project, but when they introduced it at a Dallas vehicle show in 2001, it caught the interest of the U.S. Army. Later that year the U.S. Military ordered a new prototype MS-1 to be made and shipped to Iraq for evaluation.

Design

The vehicle platform is intended to perform various missions including convoy protection, perimeter defense, surveillance, rescue, border patrol, crowd control, and explosive ordnance disposal. It is ideal for use in high-risk environments and on battlefields without the need of exposing soldiers to various threats. It also can be armed with a belt of M5 Modular Crowd Control Munitions (MCCM) for perimeter defense or crowd control.

The belt can be mounted around the vehicle to break up crowds and non-lethally engage personnel with flash-bang effects and various non-lethal rubber bullets. Multiple cameras provide 360-degree coverage for situational awareness of the area for the operator.

The US Army has tested the Ripsaw UGV while remote-controlled by a soldier in another armored vehicle up to 1 km away. The vehicle’s weapon system is modified to fire remotely using the ARAS (Advanced Remote Armament System), a gun that self-loads its own ammunition and can swap out various types of ammunition, such as lethal and non-lethal, in just a few seconds. All of these capabilities allow other manned vehicles in battle formation to send the Ripsaw out in front of them and engage targets without exposing soldiers to threats.

Variants

Ripsaw UGV

This model could accelerate to 65 mph in about 3.5 seconds since it was lighter, but it wasn’t as strong/rugged, which stands only for a non-militarized vehicle, without any additions and weapon systems.

Ripsaw MS1 tactical UGV

The MS1 tactical UGV model utilizes a powerful oversized and customized 650-horsepower Duramax 6.6L V8 diesel engine that delivers 900 ft-lbs (~ 1,220 Nm) of torque. The Ripsaw MS1 was a test platform made to test off-road capabilities. It was exclusively unmanned, cost $200,000, and could accelerate from 0-65 mph in 3 seconds.

Ripsaw MS1 Tactical UGV
Ripsaw MS1 Tactical UGV (Photo: Howe & Howe)

Ripsaw MS2 UGV

This model is made to be larger, faster, and more modular than the MS1. It weighs 4.5 tons and can carry a one-ton payload. The lightweight tubular chassis design is powered by a 6.6 liter Duramax diesel engine generating 600 hp and 1000 ft/lb of torque. Fully loaded, the MS2 can accelerate from 0-50 mph in 5.5 seconds and has a top speed of 60 mph. The vehicle can traverse 50-degree gradients and 45-degree slopes.

It can be optionally manned or teleoperated from a nearby command vehicle. Armament can include an M240 machine gun or an M2 .50-caliber machine gun, and it has been tested with the Javelin missile. If the Ripsaw is damaged or destroyed, parts can be “cannibalized” in the field and re-assembled quickly. An MS2 vehicle costs $750,000.

Ripsaw MS3 UGV

The MS3 UGV is being tested by RDECOM under the Remote Armed Maneuver Platform (RAMP) initiative to integrate the M153 CROWS remote weapon system onto an unmanned vehicle. RAMP was demonstrated at Fort Benning, Georgia in October 2013 as part of the Army’s Armed Unmanned Ground Vehicle (AUGV) program.

Ripsaw EV2

The EV2 is a luxury version, with a fully enclosed body and two seats inside the cab. It can exceed speeds of over 60 mph (97 km/h) and has a range of approximately 300 miles (480 km). It is currently unknown if the EV2 can mount remotely-operated weapon systems or not. This model is designed for the civilian market but still costs $295,000 with customizable features.

Ripsaw M5

Ripsaw M5 is a fully autonomous, all-electric tank with max speed up to 60 mph (96 km/h) with a modular design. This would make it one of the fastest, most flexible production-ready tank on the planet. Its speed and autonomous capability could enable the tank battle group to get out of a nuclear strike.

Military use

It’s a platform without a role. Does it do anything different that adds to what soldiers have already… I’m not sure. Yes, it is, wonderful and exciting, but those sorts of things don’t win battles. If the troops and defense firms can’t see its value add, then it will remain just something of interest.

Still, it may have a role in low-intensity conflicts but we already have equipment for that and it is a much cheaper solution than Ripsaw.

Technical specifications: Ripsaw UGV

Type:Light tank
Place of origin:United States
Service history
Used by:United States Army
Production history
Designer:Howe & Howe Technologies
Manufacturer:Howe & Howe Technologies
Unit cost$ 250,000
Produced:2009-present
Variants:MS1 (unmanned), MS2 (driver optional)
Specifications
Weight:9,000 lbs
Height:70 in

Armor:None (aluminum frame)
Engine:6.6 duramax diesel
750 hp
Power/weight:1000 ft/lbs
Payload capacity:2,000 lbs.
Suspension:16 in. Travel
Ground clearance:24 in
Speed:95 Mph
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