Unmanned drones are now becoming more and more common in the skies over battlefields, however it also looks like they soon also take over the ground and do the real dirty work. Introducing the Ripsaw - a new US army remote controlled tank which could eventually revolutionize mechanized warfare.
The tank, which is still currently in development Howe and Howe Technologies, claims to be the first fully remote controlled tank and it is now being eyed for use by the US army.
The design is based on a previous remote control vehicle designed by Howe and Howe, although this time they've gone one step further and actually stuck a weapon on it - a Protector M151 Remote Weapon Station with .50-cal M2 machine gun, to be precise. Previous iterations of the Ripsaw were designed to be used in explosive ordnance disposal and crowd control, while it also appeared in G.I. Joe 2 and Mad Max: Fury Road.
Unlike aerial drones which can be controlled from thousands of miles away, the Ripsaw is driven from a support vehicle up to 1km away. One soldier handles the driving, while another operates the Ripsaw's weapon. The tank can reload and change ammunition types all with a press of a button. The Ripsaw can also reach a rather impressive speed of 95mph, as illustrated by this rather bombastic marketing video:
Of course, the main advantage of the Ripsaw is that it can be used to go into dangerous areas without exposing real soldiers to harm's way. In this sense, it is likely to be a specialist piece of equipment used in certain scenarios as opposed to a standard vehicle which is widely rolled out across the US army. One major reason for this could be logistics and cost. The Ripsaw needs to go everywhere with a support vehicle - specifically an M113 Armored Personnel Carrier. This essentially doubles the amount of fuel, mechanical parts and engineering labor needed to furnish one combat-ready vehicle.
There could also be concerns regarding electronic and cyber warfare and the potential hacking of the Ripsaw. For example, in 2011, Iran claimed to hack and capture a RQ-170 Sentinal drone while in flight.
In any case, the US Army is currently conducted trials to see if the Ripsaw passes muster.
Russia is also exploring the use of unmanned or remote controlled tanks. For example, the newly unveiled T-14 Armata utilizes an innovative unmanned turret. The crew sit in a heavily armored capsule in the front of the tank and control the rest of the tanks functions from there.