First Rhinos, now CROWs. New breeds of animals keep popping up in Iraq. The Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station (CROWS) is mounted on top of a HMMWV and controlled from a command center within the vehicle. This system can mount the M2 50-cal machine gun, the M240 medium machine gun, the MK19 automatic grenade launcher, and the M249 squad automatic weapon in addition to a powerful color day camera, an infrared camera, and a range finder. This system allows the gunner to sit within the armored vehicle and, using a computer screen, control the weapon with the use of a joystick. Prior experience with Xbox desired but not required.
The PM for Soldier Weapons demonstrated a prototype in February 2004, with four systems being deployed to Iraq under an urgent needs request. Troops in Iraq began receiving the final system in April 2005. Several hundred more are expected to be fielded within the next 18 months.
The CROWS system is an excellent tool, said Sgt. 1st Class Craig Bailey, Company C, 1st Battalion, 128th Infantry Regiment. The advantages are obviously its optics, zoom and thermal capabilities. Its able to see things a lot farther in advance. Its excellent to have a thermal system mounted right on the vehicle to use at night or in daytime.
The CROWs is great for the MSR patrols because with the FLIR it sees things that are out of place, Hargis said. Even spotting IEDs in the road prior to coming up to them, but I think the most rewarding thing I can do is catch some of these guys laying the IEDs.