CROWS arrive in Iraq to keep gunners out of sight
A reader tips me off to this story on the Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station, or CROWS. Contrary to what many might think, I’m not plugging the CROWS. I’m just dissatisfied (well, for an armchair general, anyway) with the unstabilized RWS and the CROWS seems to be a similar system with motion stabilization. (The pic is from the PEO Soldier site. Click for larger version.)
The CROWS is getting quite a workout so far in Iraq:
At LSA Anaconda, four CROWS were issued to 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division from Ar Ramadi and the 155th Brigade Combat Team on FOB Kalsu. Prototypes were installed on vehicles belonging to the 42nd Military Police Brigade in December, Lozano said.
Since then, more CROWS have been installed, bringing the total up to nine systems serving troops at LSA Anaconda.
Presently in Iraq, CROWS are only assembled and fielded at LSA Anaconda. Crews are issued the system there and receive training on how to operate it, said Sgt. 1st Class Jeffrey Januchowski, the project’s training developer.
The nearly $200,000 system is designed to replace the turret gunner on Humvees to improve combat effectiveness, Lozano said.
I don’t know if the CROWS targeting and visual systems are as good as, worse than, or better than those on the RWS, though I do know that the CROWS view screen is color rather than the black and white of the RWS. The RWS has been criticized, though not too strongly, for less-than-stellar optics. The upgraded RWSes for future Stykers and for the TUSK M1 tanks will feature improved visual systems.
One nifty feature of the CROWS that I was unaware of:
Both cameras use a laser range finder, which allows the gunner to zoom on targets, lock onto them and maintain that lock accurately while the vehicle is in motion. The camera and the weapon can be used together or separately.
The camera allows the gunner to look one way with the weapon pointed another. This feature becomes particularly useful when observing suspicious subjects from a distance, Soldiers said, adding that way people are not scared off by a weapon pointed at them.
It seems to me that this would be particularly useful in urban settings, and especially in the sort of low-intensity combat our guys find themselves in most of the time. The CROWS gunner could be acting all innocent and everything while he spots for a sniper on the next rooftop or while he calls in artillery or an airstrike. All from the comfort of his vehicle.
I also saw (within the last couple of days) a photo of a Stryker with a weapons mount other than a RWS. I meant to revisit it and try to determine what it was, but I forgot and now I can’t recall where I saw it. If it comes to me I’ll check into it.
Hat tip to the reader who sent this in to MO.
UPDATE: The Ft. Benning Bayonet also has a story on the CROWS. It notes that the CROWS deployment base at LSA Anaconda was called the “CROWS Nest”.