CROWS: Public Videogame Turns Into Weapon Trainer
DID has covered the CROWS remotely-operated machine gun before, and its use in Iraq on up-armored HMMWVs and M1117 Guardian vehicles. The weapons have been successful in the field, and DID has even covered a (now-defunct) blog by a CROWS service technician in Iraq who was moving into a “train the trainer” phase. So, how about a “train the public” phase?
CROWS is a “remotely-operated weapons system.” In plain English, it’s an automated, unmanned turret that can be operated from inside a vehicle, with the gunner using a joystick for firing and control while looking at a screen that shows visual, infrared, or other images from the RWS sensors. The weapon is also stabilized, which means it will adjust automatically as the vehicle it’s on shakes and moves. Does that sound like a video game to you? The US Army thought so too…
Acting on that insight, the US Army worked with game developers to put a CROWS module and mission sets into the new version of the hit Pentagon-sponsored videogame/ recruiting tool/ preparation tool “America’s Army.” Indeed, what could be more logical than using a computer video game to train people on a video game weapon?
Defense Tech has the details, while DID offers some past articles describing what DARPA and other armies have been doing with videogame technology. Throw in other advances like instant urban modeling technologies, and it is becoming possible for troops to get weapon and location-specific simulator training before they deploy.
Meanwhile, Recon Optical Inc. in Barrington, IL has just landed an additional $36.3 million firm-fixed-price contract for the CROWS (common remotely operated weapon station). Work will be performed in Barrington, IL, and is expected to be complete by April 1, 2007. This was a sole source contract initiated on March 29, 2006 by the Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command in Picatinny Arsenal, NJ (W15QKN-06-C-0152).
Note that the picture’s second Hummer in line has a conventional manned machine gun, allowing for easy comparison to the CROWS. An even closer view of the enlarged photo also shows the difference between systems with the Mk19 40mm grenade launcher and those with a .50 caliber machine gun (last in the row). All barrels are pointed skyward in safety/off position.