RWS for Italy’s LMVs
Finmeccanica subsidiary Oto Melara and the Italian Ministry of Defense recently signed a sole-source EUR 20 million (currently $29.7 million) contract to acquire 81 HITROLE Light turrets for Italy’s Light Multirole Vehicles (LMV, or Lince). The Linces have served well in Afghanistan, using their blast protection to save lives during land mine attacks. The first HITROLE turret will be delivered for operational testing in about 4 months, with most delivered by the second half of 2010.
Small Remote Weapon Systems (RWS) offer a package of advanced sensors, as well as a 7.62mm or 12.7mm/ .50 caliber machine gun, or a 40mm grenade launcher, all controlled from inside the vehicle, using a joystick and screen. While their field of view is narrower than an exposed human’s, and they do not transmit auditory cues, they do offer long-range day and night surveillance, and protected firepower that is not vulnerable to snipers. Some high-end systems are even stabilized to ensure accurate fire from moving vehicles, though HITROLE does not appear to have this capability. American CROWS/ CROWS-II systems on its Humvee jeeps, many MRAPs, Stryker APCs, and M1A1 TUSK tanks offer just one example of growing RWS usage by armies who are increasingly forced to fight in complex terrain and urban areas. Italy has ordered 1,286 Lince blast-resistant vehicles as of June 2009, however, so 81 RWS systems aren’t – yet – a fleet-wide contract like CROWS.