Stryker Struggles With 60 Year Old Weapon (03/29/2005 entry)
Another Strategy Page posting on the Stryker, MO’s favorite 8-wheeled LAV:
American Stryker wheeled infantry vehicles are getting an upgraded version of the RWS (Remote Weapon System, a .50 caliber machine-gun that can be fired by an operator inside the vehicle.) The RWS is made by a Norwegian firm and, without the weapon, weighs 220 pounds. You can mount a machine-gun (usually .50 caliber) or an automatic 40mm grenade launcher on the RWS. While the troops have liked the RWS, this first intense combat use of the system has revealed problems. The extreme heat in Iraq would sometimes cause the system to freeze up. After several fixes, the problem finally went away. Although RWS is supposed to be able to fire accurately while the vehicle is moving, this often doesn’t work, especially when the Stryker is moving cross country.
This is a little ambiguous. The RWS is NOT motion-stabilized. This has been a criticism that many (including myself) have brought up since before the first Strykers were declared operational. Although the weapon can still be fired, while moving, there’s nothing to help steady the aim of the gunner as the vehicle bounces down the road or across the desert. I think this would be a major problem, as a moving vehicle is a safer vehicle during a battle. The driver is probably not going to stop in order to let the gunner get a good shot lined up.
While the troops liked the thermal sight on the RWS, they also found it difficult to use because of the low resolution. The RWS uses a less capable thermal sight than is found on other armored vehicles, and troops who have used the more capable thermal sights on the M-2 Bradley could not help but notice the difference. Troops also want a range finder. But the troops find much to like about the RWS. It is generally pretty accurate, especially with the daylight camera.
I’ve sat in a Stryker and played around a bit with the RWS. (See this post for pics, including a couple of the RWS controls and the view screen, plus some of the RWS itself (albeit with a dummy weapon installed.))
The screen clarity was pretty good (something I mentioned in my post) and controlling the RWS wasn’t too difficult. After a few seconds I was able to track pedestrians accurately as they walked by, and the zooms seemed pretty useful. I didn’t try out the IR settings, so I can’t comment on them at all.
But I’ve mentioned many times that the lack of stabilization has got to be a major pain. I’ve pointed out the CROWS in the past, not because I think we need that particular system but because it’s an RWS-like unit that incorporates motion stabilization.
Any Stryker soldiers out there have a comment?