The Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station (CROWS) is a United States military term for remote weapon station systems for use within armoured vehicles. The US military has fielded both the M101 CROWS and M153 CROWS II systems.
The CROWS system provides an operator with the ability to acquire and engage targets while inside a vehicle, protected by its armor. It is designed to mount on a variety of vehicle platforms and supports the Mk 19 grenade launcher, M2 .50 Caliber Machine Gun, M240B Machine Gun, and M249 Squad Automatic Weapon. The system is composed of two parts: the mount which is fixed to the exterior of the vehicle and the control group. The mount is capable of 360-degree rotation and −20 to +60-degree elevation and is gyro-stabilized. The sight package includes a daylight video camera, a thermal camera and an eye-safe laser rangefinder. It is also furnished with a fully integrated fire control system that provides ballistic correction. The weight of the weapon station varies accordingly due to different armament modules: 74 kg (163 lb) light, 135 kg (298 lb) standard (including the naval version), and 172 kg (379 lb) for CROWS II.
The control group mounts inside the vehicle (behind the driver's seat on the Humvee). It includes a display, switches and joystick to provide full remote control of the weapon system. This enables the fighting crew to operate from inside armored combat vehicles, while still maintaining the ability to acquire and engage targets. Its camera systems can identify targets out to 1,500 meters away, and the mount's absorption of about 85% of weapon recoil delivers an estimated 95% accuracy rate, as well as the ability to track targets moving 25 mph (40 km/h). Large ammunition boxes enable for sustained firing periods, carrying 96 rounds for the Mk 19, 400 rounds for the M2, 1,000 rounds for the M240B, and 1,600 rounds for the M249. Each CROWS costs $190,000.
The first supplier for the CROWS program was Recon Optical (Barrington, IL, USA) with their RAVEN SRWS product. As part of the first CROWS contract, the Recon Optical RAVEN R-400 RWS were fielded in 2004 in Iraq, employed by special forces, military police, infantry and transport units. So far, more than 10000 units have been delivered.
M153 CROWS II
After an open solicitation Kongsberg Protech Systems (Kongsberg, Norway and Johnstown, PA, USA) won the CROWS II contract with a variant of their M151 PROTECTOR, which is also used on the Stryker M1126 Infantry Carrier Vehicle. Kongsberg received a frame-contract of more than 1 billion USD for the delivery of up to 6,500 CROWS systems to the US Army and a first purchase order exceeding 300 million USD As of October 2009, the framework contract has been almost completely converted to fixed contracts. At the very end of 2009 the agreement was extended to include 10,349 systems.
The XM153 CROWS II has been delivered in huge quantities and more than a thousand systems are fielded. It has been employed on M1 Abrams main battle tanks, various versions of the Humvee, Buffalo MRVs, RG-31 Nyalas, RG-33s, the Army's M1126 Stryker APC, and was soon integrated into the Oshkosh M-ATV, JERRV, Caiman, and MaxxPro.
By September 2013, the U.S. Army had over 8,000 CROWS systems in use. The new CROWS III incorporates a laser dazzler to temporarily blind suspicious individuals rather than needing to open fire, additional cameras on the side and rear of the turret to expand situational awareness without rotating the turret, and an infrared laser pointer to paint objects at night. The larger version of CROWS is equipped with an FGM-148 Javelin missile launcher.
Sea PROTECTOR MK50
“The marinized version of the PROTECTOR M153 CROWS is a platform that takes all of the lessons from years of combat service in Iraq and Afghanistan with the land forces and brings them to the U.S. Navy. The system increases engagement effectiveness and offers unmatched deployment flexibility across platforms and in any environment.”
- Remote weapon system - for a comprehensive list of systems and suppliers
- Protector (RWS) - base RWS system for CROWS II, used as variants in other militaries as well as US M151 Protector
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- The Relentless Terminator - Strategypage.com, 12 September 2013
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