A murder of CROWS

Army Explores Future of Remote Control Weapons

I’ve written a number of times about the Commonly Remotely Operated Weapon Station (CROWS), most recently here.

National Defense Magazine’s latest issue digs into remote weapons, including CROWS’ little brother, CROWS-Lighting:

for trucks and other vehicles that cannot handle the heavier system.

This summer, versions of CROWS-Lightning will head to the Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. for testing, and in early 2006 will arrive in Iraq for field tests, said Col. Mike Smith, project manager for soldier weapons.

While the portion of the original system located above a vehicle’s roofline weighs 395 pounds, the equivalent part of CROWS-Lightning is about 175 pounds. A certain amount of mass is necessary to absorb the guns’ recoil, Smith said.

The lightweight versions are currently being tested on Humvees, but potential exists for its use on various other vehicles, including armored recovery vehicles and the Future Tactical Truck System. To reduce the logistics footprint and make maintenance easier, the same mounting and many of the same parts of application kits will be used.

Pick yer poison:

The sensor suite includes daytime video, forward-looking infrared and a laser rangefinder. The heavy version supports the MK19 grenade machine gun, .50 caliber M2 machine gun, M249 semi automatic weapon and M240B machine gun.

More weaponry changes are underway, according to military researchers. “We’re absolutely looking at future weapons,” Smith said.

Plans include incorporating the XM307 lightweight grenade launcher into the CROWS family. The XM307 fires air-bursting grenades and armor-piercing ammunition. The XM312 .50-caliber machine gun also is being examined for use–the low recoil of these new guns can bring heavy firepower to CROWS-Lightning, Stoddard said.

There’s also talk of using CROWS on fixed assets like buildings or checkpoints.

I’ve mentioned that they might be useful on the US-Mexican border, especially if mounted on a track to grant some mobility while the gunners sit in comfort back at the base.


  1. I wonder if they can make one that sits on high-power electrical lines and rides them like a sky-cam. Lots and lots of pathways. (Doubley good if it can draw it’s power from the mains.) It would also be pretty tamper proof — you could shoot at it and destroy it, but I don’t think many terrorists or coyotes would be shimmying up that tower and out on the lines to jack around with it.

  2. just how many powerlines are there on teh border? I would think that puting the CROWS on tethered baloons would be a good choice, especially if the canopy has thinfilm solar cells built/wove/sprayed in to power the CROWS. That way you don’t have to worry about tracks/roads going bad, better view of potential targets; high winds would be problem.

  3. How bout a infra-red sensor that allows the gun to have a target and can just shoot everything in sight… (tis a joke: I realise that this is near impossible to achieve, and inhumane, etc.)

  4. Ya know, maybe that guy from Texas was on to something (internet hunting). We could place CROWS on the boarder, and the border patrol could sit back in air conditioned houses and play space invaders for real.

  5. James: I really think there might be something there. I don’t know what, if any, remote observation and/or weapons the Border Patrol has, but it seems to me that these things would be perfect. This has got great IR capabilities and slap in some sound detection, maybe (at least for tunnel diggers) and you’re on to something. Maginot Line comparisions are bound to come up, but the best use of such things is to ‘hold the fort’ in some areas while allowing your real assets (men) to cover higher-priority spots or act as a quick reaction force. All of this supposes, of course, that someone is actually going to get serious about the border…