The Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station (M101 CROWS or M153 CROWS II) is an American remote weapon station that provides the 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 MK19 Grenade Machine Gun, .50 Caliber M2 Machine Gun, M240B Machine Gun, and M249 Squad Automatic Weapon.
The CROWS 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. It is capable of mounting a variety of crew-served weapons, to include the M2 .50-cal Machine Gun, the Mk19 40-mm Automatic Grenade Machine Gun, the M240B 7.62 mm Machine Gun and M249 Squad Automatic Weapon. 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.
The first Recon Optical RAVEN R-400 RWS as part of the first CROWS contract were fielded in 2004 in Iraq, employed by special forces, military police, infantry and transport units. So far, more than 200 units have been fielded.
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 MATV, 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.
After an open solicitation Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace (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
- Remote Weapon System for a comprehensive list of systems and suppliers of RWS's.
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