CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait — Members of the 2nd (Stryker) Cavalry Regiment recently became the first Army unit to have the new Remote Weapon Systems refitted and mounted on their Stryker vehicles.
The RWS is the Army’s latest advancement in weapon systems. The system has a new laser range finder for its .50-caliber mounted machine gun. Before 2nd SCR Soldiers deployed to Iraq the new systems were mounted on Strykers in Germany and Kuwait.
First, note the regiment’s location.
Secondly, the article actually seems to make the RWS sound like a new invention. It’s not, and all Strykers have always had the M151 RWS (called the ‘Protector’ in the commercial market). The upgrade is actually a new and improved version of the RWS which incorporates, among other things, the Small Tactical Optical Rifle Mounted (STORM) Laser Range Finder:
Storm is a component of the RWS that provides stabilization so gunners can shoot on the move. The stabilizer has a built-in laser range finder, which has a more accurate balance between the weapon and the target.
The majority of the Strykers assigned to the 2nd SCR were recently fitted with the new Storm system in Vilseck, Germany, prior to unit deployment. The remainder of the Strykers received the Storm system once the vehicles arrived in Kuwait.
“Once we got here, they made some adjustments to the Storm system and tested it all,” said Bright, a native of Walton, W.Va. –The Storm is part of the gun system. All components put together helps stabilize the gun system,” said Bright. “It helps us to shoot on the move.”
The stabilization and a later comment that the RWS turns more rapidly make this sound like the M151E2 Block II RWS. The STORM laser range finder was part of the M151E1 Block I upgrade, which means that it should already have been available. This article almost makes it sound like Block I and Block II are hitting the field at the same time.
I’ve long noted the lack of RWS stabilization that would allow accurate fire while on the move, and I’ve noted the CROWS system, which is motion stabilized, several times (most notably here and here.) It seems to me that this upgrade alone is a pretty significant one.
The imaging and targeting capabilities are also heavily used for surveillance, so upgrades in those areas will have a far greater impact than just improving the Strykers ability to shoot.
Plus note this from yesterday:
Kongsberg Gets $1.4B Army Deal
WASHINGTON – A Norwegian defense subsidiary won a five-year deal worth up to $1.34 billion from the U.S. Army to supply remote controlled weapons for 6,500 Abrams tanks and Stryker armored vehicles used in Iraq.
Remote Weapons Stations are part of the M1 TUSK program.
Here is a 2005 article noting the Block I and Block II changes, as well as some proposed future upgrades for the RWS:
M151E1 (Block I) Changes to the Protector Remote Weapon Station
–New Thermal Imaging Module (TIM) which more than triples the ID range of the original thermal camera and provides two optical fields of view and two electronic fields of view. This improvement leverages the current technology in the Heavy Thermal Weapon Sight program.
–Integrates the new Small Tactical Optical Rifle Mounted (STORM) Laser Range Finder providing the operator with increased response time and visible and IR pointers to coordinate engagements with ground troops. This system is common with Land Warrior Units and directly interchangeable.
–Modified Video Imaging Module (VIM) includes a color display which allows for improved situational awareness and coordination with ground troops.
–Larger ammo can with a low ammo sensor provides longer engagement times between reloads and the low ammo sensor provides a warning when ammunition is getting low.
–Enhanced Control Grip provides the gunner improved accessibility and easier operation.
M151E2 (Block II) Changes to the Protector Weapon Station
–Capability to engage targets while moving at speeds of up to 25 mph over various terrains.
–Increased slew rate which will improve engagement times and provide “hooks” for future enhancements that will leverage sensors and provide automatic slew to target on demand.
The M151 Remote Weapon System future considerations
–Integrated Javelin capability;
–Future armament upgrades such as the Advanced Crews Served Weapon;
–Acoustic and IR sensors to detect and slew to threats; and
–Far target designation–will lase a target and determine target location (grid coordinates) for hand off to other resources for engagement or situational awareness.
DVIDS article via Stryker Brigade News.