Howe & Howe's wild Ripsaw returns to its roots as a robotic combat vehicle
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.
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.
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.
Source: Textron Systems