“My brother Geoff and I founded Howe & Howe with the single, clear objective of safeguarding our nation’s warfighters,” states Senior Vice Presiden Mike Howe. “This drive led us to develop the fastest tracked vehicle in the world, and we’ve applied that same spirit and purity of innovation to the Ripsaw M5.” In partnership with Textron Systems and FLIR Systems, Inc., Howe & Howe have developed an unmanned, high-speed tank that deploys drones, keeping soldiers safe.
The Ripsaw M5 is designed to deliver “aggressive mobility and modularity for multiple missions.” The idea behind the M5 is for it to operate as a “wingman” to other tanks and armored vehicles, being deployed into areas that are dangerous.
The M5 uses a Kongsberg MCT-30 Protector turret, which is the same turret used for the Stryker Dragoon infantry combat vehicle. In that turret is a 30mm Mk. 44 Bushmaster II autocannon, which is effective against “soft targets” like infantry in defensive positions and trucks, as well as some armored vehicles. If that’s not enough firepower, the M5 can also be fitted with a CROWS-J remote controlled missile launcher armed with Javelin anti-tank missiles. It can also carry anti-aircraft missiles. And it’s not just offensive weapons that can be used on the M5. It can be equipped with a mine plow or rocket-propelled lane clearing charges to clear mines and destroy explosive devices, or to breach obstacles.
The tank can also be used to gather information. It’s equipped with a surveillance turret that has both a regular camera and an infrared camera for night vision. And don’t forget about the drones. The M5 carries an R80D Skyraider quadcopter and a SUGV unmanned ground vehicle.
Advances like these are bound to keep soldiers safer as they venture into dangerous areas and situations. “The battlefield is filled with really awful places where humans do tasks today they shouldn’t have to,” says Brig. Gen. Ross Coffman, the director of the Army Next Generation Combat Vehicle Cross-Functional Team. “But today, with the way our technology has advanced, our robotic vehicles can move forward of a manned force to see what’s out there, detect chemicals, put direct fire on the enemy, determine whether or not there’s an obstacle, and then team with humans to determine the best course of action.”