This post is also available in: עברית (Hebrew)
A new modified, unmanned variant of the M1 Abrams main battle tank went through testing recently in Washington. The Robotic Complex Breach Concept (RCBC) vehicle was developed to save human soldiers from the dangers of combat engineering and obstacle breaching. The RCBC is designed to clear minefields and other battlefield obstacles so to make it easier for ground troops to proceed.
Usually in ground warfare, defending forces lay out obstacles and countermobility tactics in order to slow down the attackers. These obstacles usually involve laying mines, digging trenches, placing barbed wire, and constructing anti-tank barriers.
When it comes to clearing the area of these defensive measures, the responsibility usually falls under combat engineers. In many scenarios, combat engineers are the first to the battlegrounds, tasked with clearing mines, barbed wires, and other obstacles. As a result, combat engineers often end up in incredibly dangerous situations.
In an attempt to lower casualties for the combat engineers, the U.S. Army developed the M1150 Assault Breacher Vehicle (ABV). The ABV is built on the hull of the M1 Abrams and is designed to literally plow through enemy defences. Instead of having a main canon and a turrent, the ABV sports a mine plow, dozer blade, ordnance removal charges, and a mine clearing system.
Popularmechanics.com mentions how the armored vehicle is capable of tearing through wires, clearing a path through minefields, smashing anti-tank barriers, and filling trenches. All of this while having extra protection against rockets and missiles with reactive armor boxes bolted to the vehicle.
The RCBC is the same exact vehicle as the ABV with only one exception, the RCBC is an unmanned vehicle. The RCBC simply takes the ABV and attaches a remote steering and equipment operation system to it. The ABV is already equipped with outward facing cameras, so no additional cameras were installed to the vehicle.
The RCBC is currently being tested at the Joint Warfighting Assessment at the Yakima Training Center in Washington. The Joint Warfighting Assessment is a field exercise where the Army and Marines test future technologies for possible future deployment.
RCBC testing will surely help pave the way for future unmanned armored vehicles.