Military

Howe & Howe's wild Ripsaw returns to its roots as a robotic combat vehicle

Howe & Howe's wild Ripsaw retu...
The Ripsaw M5 RCV - a mid-sized, remote controlled tank
The Ripsaw M5 RCV - a mid-sized, remote controlled tank
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The Ripsaw M5 RCV - a mid-sized, remote controlled tank
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The Ripsaw M5 RCV - a mid-sized, remote controlled tank
The Ripsaw was born as a remote-controlled military platform, and to such it has returned
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The Ripsaw was born as a remote-controlled military platform, and to such it has returned
The M5 can carry a FLIR SkyRaider drone system
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The M5 can carry a FLIR SkyRaider drone system
Medium caliber cannon
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Medium caliber cannon
The M5 is built to extend the capabilities of ground units
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The M5 is built to extend the capabilities of ground units
360-degree envinronmental awareness in visual and thermal imaging, as well as a gimballed surveillance camera
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360-degree envinronmental awareness in visual and thermal imaging, as well as a gimballed surveillance camera

The Ripsaw "luxury sports tank" is one of the most extreme and obnoxious vehicles we've ever laid our eyes on. But now, the technology's getting back to its military roots as a remote-controlled, multi-domain "wingman" for US Army operations.

East coast-based Howe & Howe started out back in 2001 with an unmanned military vehicle designed for the US Army – the Ripsaw, which at the time was the world's fastest tank. Twin brothers Geoff and Michael Howe continued to build and refine tracked military and civil protection vehicles through the noughties, but first found themselves on the front pages in 2010 when they put tank tracks on a wheelchair to make an extreme off-road vehicle for adrenaline junkies.

Things got crazy in the noughteens, as the company started making wild big boy's toys, filming reality TV, getting its overpowered Ripsaw sports tanks into Hollywood movies like Fast & Furious 8 and even supplying the monstrous tracked foot units for the ill-fated but highly fun MegaBots giant robot fighting league.

But in January this year, the company was acquired for an undisclosed price by defense contractor Textron Systems, which was keen to get Howe & Howe back to its original mission of building unmanned military gear, and presumably put a stop to all the fun.

The M5 can carry a FLIR SkyRaider drone system
The M5 can carry a FLIR SkyRaider drone system

Here's the first fruit of Textron's new subsidiary. Built in conjunction with FLIR Systems, the Ripsaw M5 RCV (Robotic Combat Vehicle) is a remote-controlled, unmanned tank with 360-degree thermal and camera imaging and a wildly modular approach to fitout.

Built on an open architecture, the M5 can be specified with all sorts of undisclosed drive options. Textron is so confident it'll hit the right notes with the US Army that it's already invested its own money in developing multi-mission capability modules, including real-time situational awareness systems, remote weapons stations and terrain engagement systems.

360-degree envinronmental awareness in visual and thermal imaging, as well as a gimballed surveillance camera
360-degree envinronmental awareness in visual and thermal imaging, as well as a gimballed surveillance camera

As well as a dirty big medium-caliber cannon on top, the M5 can deploy an FLIR surveillance gimbal capable of capturing stable, streaming video footage from a distance. It can also carry FLIR's SkyRaider drone system, CROWS Javelin missile weapons station, lines and plows to clear mines with, and an IED defeat roller.

Honestly, we preferred it when the technology was being used for good, honest, silly fun, but it's worth remembering that this is what Howe & Howe was founded for.

Check out a video below.

Ripsaw® M5

Source: Textron Systems

6 comments
Brian M
"Honestly, we preferred it when the technology was being used for good, honest, silly fun," True! But unmanned military stuff can save the lives of your own military, and possibly bring military engagements to a close quicker for the civilian population. Its a sad fact of life that military capability is always required (even the Swedes and Swiss have military) so unmanned and precision weaponry with reduce collateral damage is a good thing. More worrying is if they add the capability of autonomous weapon firing.
guzmanchinky
Skynet is pleased.
paul314
One big deal is that robots can take much more shock and g force than humans can. So imagine this thing bopping around rough terrain at full speed.
MarkTomlinson
Bolo v1.0
toni24
Unmanned military stuff eliminates the human element where a soldier can refuse to obey an unlawful order. Sort of makes it easy to suppress human rights and subjugate a nation of free citizens and reduce them to abject slavery. Way to go Hitler is smiling from the great beyond to see us become that stupid
Skyler Thomas
Doesn’t tell us how much armor this thing has, or it’s performance specs, dimensions, cost etc. It would be great if they could keep costs down, as it would be good to have a moderately expendable remote lav with modular utility. Could save lives and add some nice versatility to operations staging.