A point made clear in the AUSA Global Force Next panel on the Next Generation Combat Vehicle is that unmanned technologies and artificial intelligence will play an increasingly important role.
The questions are more the degree to which these will introduced, the specific tasks they can best perform, and the level of autonomy that is both appropriate and comfortable to the soldier operators.
The US Army Robotic Combat System programme is scheduled to conduct Soldier Operational Evaluation (SOE2) at Fort Hood Texas from June to August 2022. Remote Combat Vehicle – Light (RCV-L), Remote Combat Vehicle – Medium (RCV-M) and METV (Control Vehicles) for use in the SOE, will all undergo technical testing beginning April 2021.
The RCV-L has been delivered by QinetiQ and Pratt Miller Defense and RCV-M by Textron Defense.
Speaking during the virtual AUSA Global Force Next 2021 on 16 March, Brigadier General Ross Coffman, director NGCV Cross Functional Team declared: “the goal is to reduce that task load: AI has shown the potential to assist, what needs to be determined is what it can do best and what is should do.”
BGen Glenn Dean, PEO Ground Combat Systems, pointed out that a factor limiting the broader introduction of AI is “its need for a digital platform architecture, something that is missing in the legacy combat vehicles that make up a significant portion of the Army fleet.”
The move across the Army toward Modular Open System Architecture (MOSA) is intended to both address this and to facilitate the straight-forward integration to upgrade capabilities as they become available in the future. This would permit introduction of new technologies and subsystems and the ability to respond to more quickly to evolving threats.