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Subject: Modular Remote Weapon Stations
HeavyD    4/13/2012 6:27:47 PM
I'd like to see the Joint Chiefs look into a standardized, modular remote weapons station that can be deployed on everything from Hummers and MRAPS to ships and eventually to unmanned remote control combat vehicles. A common design including mount with power and information cabling interface would allow for mission-customization and rapid repair/replacement if damaged. Specifications would allow for a .50 cal or Mk19 40mm on the large side, to a 25mm grenade launcher with 5.56, 6.8 or 7.62mm machine gun. Other options could include a Carl Gustav, a AA-12 automatic shotgun, etc. Non-lethal weapons could also be deployed: tear gas grenades and beanbag or rubber bullets, etc. Laser and IR designators could be integral or an external mount option. The station would include the sensors, targeting and fire control. Configure the station with the weapons, mount it on the vehicle. The RWS would be controlled by a standardized console mounted within the vehicle. Multiple stations could be mounted on a vehicle, and each station could be controlled by any of the consoles within the vehicle, or remotely! To this last point a RWS mounted on a M-1 in an urban environment, for example, could be controlled by an operator in a nearby IFV, bunker or observation post. It can be scanning the upper levels and rooftops, 360 degrees while the crew of 4 does their jobs. Ship-based stations would provide monitoring and protection against small craft attack with low-light and IR capabilities. Now for the future: A station mounted to a ATV-sized unmanned, armored tracked vehicle would be great for urban assault, walking point, etc. And if the station gets shot-up, it is an hour to swap it out. Think of it as R2D2's skinnier but more deadly cousin.
 
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WarNerd       4/15/2012 3:55:27 AM
You are years behind, I think the first proposal to do so was in 2002.  The only reason that it has not been carried out was not the will, but the demand.  They wanted/needed so many that no one manufacturer could supply enough.  The interfaces were standardized, but little else. This will probably change as money for purchasing more dries up. (It will be money, not lack of demand that reduces purchases.)
-- There are at least 2 basic sizes:
-- The standard CROWS mount which can handle things like .50 cal MG, Mk.19, the XM-301/312 (till dropped) and twin .30 cal MGs.
-- The CROWS Lite which was for single 5.56mm and 7.62mm MGs
-- There was one for the Carl-Gustaf in one of the robot programs, but that was an actual turret to accommodate a magazine feed, a 4 round revolver design if I remember correctly.
All your sensor options were also included from the start.
 
Naval mounts are very different from the ones used by the Army because of environmental factors, primarily saltwater, but other things like wave impact also effect design. All of the electrical components need to be hermetically sealed, and most the drive train. There are corrosion problems and dissimilar metals issues. And then you have to design the entire mount for wave impact in a storm. Naval mounts are generally more robust (i.e. heavier, more power, and costlier materials), and would be overkill for most Army applications.
 
I think the crews will be extremely leery of allowing wireless remote operation of the mounts on a their vehicle, it would be better, and probably faster, to just pass the target location to them and let them take the shot.
 
And the little tracked vehicle with a mount is the SWORDS system all over again. Turns out that they were all too easy to disable by taking out the sensors. Nothing fancy, just send out the wife, mother, or child with a table cloth, shawl, rug, or basket to drape over the cameras. Mud balls also work, so paintballs should too. And for a passive barrier you can block a passage just stringing a clothes line and hanging out the wash
 
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HeavyD       4/16/2012 11:31:45 PM
Wait a minute - we needed so many that they scrapped a common platform/interface because no single manufacturer was big enough?
 
 
As far as passing control remotely...if I was a trooper in an IFV crawling through the next Fallujah I'd love to have some video-game savant 20 year old PFC watching my 6 remotely and having one additional dismount by my side.
 
Re:  the armed robot, again if I was in the next Fallujah when the bullets were flying I'd love to be able to have R2D2 with an attitude and a SAW/Gustav be able to look around the next corner or to get a better, closer shot at that bunker.  Oh, and while Napalm sticks to kids and is therefore kinda politically incorrect, Mace on the other hand eventually wears off...or beanbag rounds from a AA-12 for non-lethal get-the-fuck-away persuasion. 
 
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WarNerd       4/19/2012 5:32:23 AM
Wait a minute - we needed so many that they scrapped a common platform/interface because no single manufacturer was big enough?
No. The electronic interface is the same for all, the hardware for the gun mount is different from each manufacturer and user controls rapidly evolving. The game controller that is the basis for the current design hadn’t even been sketched on a napkin yet 10 years ago. It is like any new product, just look at how the iPhone/Droid/etc. are developing, for example. Every manufacturer has a different design and a different set of bells and whistles. Some work, some don’t, and some are just plain worthless. It is all obvious now, but that is because they have tried them out in the field to know which is which.
 
But they needed a LOT of RWS’s RIGHT NOW, not years later when the bugs were out, and the user controls standardized. So they took them all. Not some from A and some from B to test, but every one that the manufacturer could make after passing initial testing for 4 or 5 years.
As far as passing control remotely...if I was a trooper in an IFV crawling through the next Fallujah I'd love to have some video-game savant 20 year old PFC watching my 6 remotely and having one additional dismount by my side.
From your description the operator is stateside.
Consider the signal path, all its steps and their length, from the RWS end to the stateside operator, then double it and divide by the speed of light – this is the MINIMUM delay, now triple it to account for encryption, packet routing, and other delays. Probably looking at a second or more. Lot can happen in a second, like you stepping in the line of fire. Ouch.
 
Then some 16 year old hacker (Iraqi? Lutz/Anonymous? Chinese?) takes over the system, drops the muzzle and does a 360 while holding the trigger down. Question: Does that count as a blue-on-blue?
 
Lastly, there is the bandwidth problem. You simply cannot make this work.
Re:  the armed robot, again if I was in the next Fallujah when the bullets were flying I'd love to be able to have R2D2 with an attitude and a SAW/Gustav be able to look around the next corner or to get a better, closer shot at that bunker.  Oh, and while Napalm sticks to kids and is therefore kinda politically incorrect, Mace on the other hand eventually wears off...or beanbag rounds from a AA-12 for non-lethal get-the-fuck-away persuasion. 
Would you want to walk behind a Carl Gustav on point? Two words – back blast.
 
Want to check around the corner? What if there is a fadayeen with an RPG 25m away, the robot cannot line up a shot fast enough and becomes expensive shrapnel.
 
Some suggestions, keep the big bot off the point, send something small, fast, and expendable. Armed with a grenade, no aiming required. When it comes around the corner if someone is close they either open fire and you detonate, or they run and you chase them with it. No one there? Fine, you have the corner.
 
SAW/Gustav are support weapons, use the big bots with them as such and keep them back. Support weapons are also priority targets, but bots don’t care about suppressive fire.
 
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