Coast Guard Wants Precision Machine Guns

The Coast Guard wants to make its deck-mounted machine guns accurate enough for crowded American harbors.

To do that, Coast Guard gunners need a weapon mount that’s stable enough to turn an M240 machine gun – a weapon designed to kill area targets on the battlefield – into a precision tool capable of putting every round on target.

“We are trying to identify a system that will help our operators out there … do a better job,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Jeffery Lusk, a weapon specialist with the office of Specialized Capabilities. “We are trying to minimize the amount of collateral damage.”

Crew-served weapons fire 400-650 rounds per minute, Lusk said, explaining that “gunners are putting of out those rounds in a very constrained environment” such as New York Harbor or San Francisco Bay.

The Coast Guard hopes to find the solution in a commercially-available mount, Lusk said, who added that the service might be able to start testing by 2016.

Coast Guard officials are evaluating Navy, stabilized mount programs, but they are “designed for warfighter, not necessarily the law enforcement officer,” Lusk said.

“Everything that we shoot has to be on target,” Lusk said. “We need more precision.”

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Matt Cox
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  • SFCPappy

    The system is already available and has been for several decades. Use the same system we use on the M1 Abrams tank. The system is designed for close quarters combat. Stabilized computer control. Laser range finder. 3x, 10x or 20x powered optics. Daytime and thermal or FLIR optics also. With A2 upgrade you have the option of second target designator. I can hit a single person at 800 meters with first round on a tank crossing rough terrain at 25mph then they can do the same in a harbor . Plus if they want they can either keep the 120mm smoothbore or adapt other main guns to go along with the coaxial mounted M240.

  • The co-ax MG mount for the M1 leverages the main gun’s sensors and FC components. That’s too large to be mounted on a pintle designed for supplemental SSDF (Ship’s Self Defense Force) weapons. Not to mention it would need to be removable or highly protected in order to deal with a corrosive seawater environment and rough handling from potential wave action.

    • SFCPappy

      You cannot use an electronic stabilization device on a pental mount. It is not designed for that weight. If they insist on one shot one kill with a M240 machine gun then they’ll have to use stabilization similar to our main battle tanks. Either that or design from the ground/deck up mount similar to the one man 40mm cannon that was used on a few patrol boats in the 80’s before they scrapped it. There is already off the shelf equipment that will work if only the services would suck up their pride and use another service’s equipment. The deck of many Coast Guard vessels could use a modified Bradley turret just committing the TOW launcher. Then they’ll have both a direct fire 25mm chain gun and a stabilized MM240-C 7.62 machine gun.

  • Charlie

    How about the camera stabilizers Hollywood uses?

  • PolicyWonk

    The PC classes use a stabilized 20mm as part of its base armament. We ought to be able to leverage part of that capability, and its already navalized.

  • Frode

    They’re probably looking at something like the naval version of what’s already on the Strykers :

    • wcm

      Yes i agree a crows mount would do the job

  • Shea

    It’s called gunnery practice. Unless your engagement ranges are 1000+ meters at which point you should not be using an MG as a “precision weapon”. What kind of threats are you thinking you need to engage in an “enclosed harbor” with automatic weapons fire?

  • hibeam

    What a joke. They need an apology bull horn. Our immigration laws have been put on hold by the Commander in Golf.

    • Charles

      The Mexican’s were in California long before it became a US state. And BTW – 60 minutes did an entire episode in the year following the WTC attacks on the US Border Patrol.

      Apparently, the problem isn’t merely the mean old democrats: former POTUS George W Bush had ordered the US Border Patrol to not arrest illegals coming over the borders – even after 9/11/2001.

    • Citizen of the World

      If they are voting, they probably are American.

      • mondawg

        What makes you say that. You don’t have to have citizenship papers to vote. Just a drivers license.

    • blight_

      politicobeam returns!

    • blight_

      Hispanics are only dem on immigration issues. They are generally Catholic and social conservative, just like a large cohort of older African Americans. If push comes to shove on a gay marriage vote the party fractures along those fissure lines.

  • Or we could just legalize drugs and let the Coast Guard go back to rescuing fishermen.

  • Lance

    So this is about a mount not replacing men for another dumb computer right?

    If the USCG can afford it fine for a new mount. But I think many USCG and reserve still use M-60s and many have few funds to toy over this. I worked for the USCG and believe my they can be really under funded.

  • Bernard

    Why not just use a Crows II?

    There shouldn’t be a man behind the machine gun, it’s 2014. We have robotics that can aim guns now.

  • Dfens

    Seems to me that Defense Tech has already done an article on the kind of technology that would keep these crappy little M240s from spraying bullets all over hell and back:

    Put one of these scopes on the damn gun and when the target is centered the gun will spray those pitiful little .22 cal bullets at it. When it’s not, it won’t. No robotics. No billion dollar development program. “Just” a $30,000 scope.

  • Tribulationtime

    More precision. Keeping in mind that a boat at 15knots is shaking platform. Holographic sight, a mechanical stabilized mount, higher rate of fire, 4 to 5 burst mode and thousands of rounds fire on training. Easy and cheap.

  • NV

    Just use a mini

  • puresaltA1A

    weight is an issue on these small boats… also as a former coastie… you know damn well if we get a toy like that, the funding would run out the next year…. I really dont see the point either… over militarization of the USCG….

  • Mystick

    Maybe not having an organization acting as law enforcement using military equipment and tactics in a crowded environment would be the better option.

    • Always Ready

      Imagine a liquefied natural gas tanker blowing up in a major US port after being attached by a suicide boat packed with explosives or an oil tanker being sunk in the channel of a major US refinery port. Now maybe you’ll get the picture.

      • blight_

        I wonder if there are even enough CG cutters to properly secure every seaport and oil tanker in the United States. Machineguns or not, the biggest problem is manpower and ships.

    • CG Doc

      If you can tell me which one of our ports is NOT a crowded environment I’ll happily retract my statement and shut up. Also the Coast Guard isn’t “acting” as law enforcement, they ARE the world’s premier ocean going law enforcement organization.

  • Citizen of the World

    puresaltA1A: Does the Coast Guard really need a machine gun?

    • Super Guest

      The Coast Guard has had machine guns almost since its inception….I don’t understand why this is all the sudden a problem?

  • SFCPappy

    Here is the .50 caliber in-bore device I spoke of. It is used as a training tool but can be used accurately in a hostile situation.

  • Problem is that the bullets do not follow one another in a perfectly straight line. Even if you matched the cyclic rate to the jump-and-recover of the gun on the mount, the bullets will disperse.
    To solve this problem requires thinking about what kinds of targets require machine guns–which is to say, dozens of rounds in a few seconds. And which don’t. A powerful rifle–like the M14 with a scope–fired from a rest–like a sandbag–would allow the shooter to put one round on the target, and another and another, firing semi and aiming between each shot. If the target requires more than that, you have a problem that scattering itinerant bullets around the harbor isn’t going to solve.

  • Sword100

    Machine guns are not precision weapons!

  • voodkokk

    Crew-served weapons fire 400–650 rounds per minute, Lusk said, explaining that “gunners are putting of out those rounds in a very constrained environment” such as New York Harbor or San Francisco Bay.

    Is this all the Coast Guard has to worry about is putting 400-650 rounds a minute into a 50 gal drum?

  • William_C1

    The answer is a stabilized remote controlled weapon system, the US Navy uses some for their 25mm and 30mm chain guns, and there are systems on the market that go down to MMG size.

    Of course machine guns are designed for automatic fire and not the best choice for very accurate single shots. Most are full-auto only but there are some exceptions to the rule.

    You could probably design one to accept a semi-automatic rifle firing from the closed bolt, but if you ever do need a bullet hose then you’re out of luck.

    Maybe General Dynamics could actually find a market for their XM307 here? Although not very ideal in a hostage situation.

  • CaptainDoc

    The US is under lots of criticism over drones killing citizens but, the USCG can kill citizens at will. Having a weapon that fires that amount of rounds with that kind of power is ridiculous in a secure environment such as a US harbor. We are talking about potential criminals not combat armed intruders(yes the potential criminals are armed but a patrol boat does not need a heavy MG). A MG should not be installed on a patrol boat, ships should have some form of deck gun that is computer controlled or practiced with for accurate first round firing and immobilizing the vessel being pursued. The name of the first USCG vessel was the “revenue” if that gives you any indication what they are there for.

  • John D

    Try training your gunners to shoot! Leaving HAL to run this still is responsible for the shooting! The military today wants a robotic army so no body feels bad about a combat type job!

  • cwolf88

    The problem is recoil on a bouncing boat. Not sure a mount will solve the issue. Ought to test other gun types as part of a system. Mount plus chain gun. Mount plus Kriss-type gun. Etc.

  • lol

    People are curious why I left the CG. When’s the last time you heard of the CG even discharging a weapon, not to mention taking down a vessel in pursuit in an enclosed harbor? Keep pissing away thousands of thousands for something that won’t be used. Plus, other than trained special forces (which the CG isn’t of course) name me someone that’s gonna stand up in a firefight to shoot back versus turning away from the fire. Just like locks and honest people and 9/11, if someone wants in, there isn’t much we can do to stop them without having a true military ready and waiting. Makes me laugh, thanks gov’t for pissing away more of our hard earned money.

  • JBK

    The comments about why the CG would need a machine gun can be answered by this. The Coast Guard was transferred in 2003 to the Department of Homeland Security. The following is taken from the Coast Guards web site.

    “The Coast Guard has four major national defense missions: maritime intercept operations, deployed port operations/security and defense, peacetime engagement, and environmental defense operations. These missions are essential military tasks assigned to the Coast Guard as a component of joint and combined forces in peacetime, crisis, and war.”

    So the Coast Guard is responsible for responding to terrorist attacks at sea and in harbors. Not the sort of job you want to go into without the best, most accurate, fire power you can get.

    • CaptainDoc

      what are they doing at sea? it is the coast guard of the USA not the Caribbean countries. the most they should have is a 9 m/m.

  • cgdoc

    Lots of misconceptions here of what the USCG is and what we do…?

  • charles

    Served in the CGR for 27 years. Met a member with a Purple Heart and asked about his injury. He was at sea during the Viet Nam days and the captain wanted to run some firing practice. There was a mortar on the bow. Just as this fellow was about to drop a round down the tube, the helmsman steered the vessel hard in one direction. The result was that the mortar shell went straight up and came straight down. It hit next to the small cutter and injured the gunner on deck. A better fire control technique could prevent shells from going where they are not intended, especially ones can can come back to harm you.

  • Larry Mate the weapon to a stabilizing system. These systems are gyro-stabilized so accurately that a 120 pound woman can run with one and the view stays perfectly stable. Mate the rate of fire and recoil to the gyro rate and poof–steady on target all the time. Requires some fancy machine and computer work but this system has already been created so there is no R & D funding required. Just give it to the master gun smiths and let them do what they do.

  • SFCPappy

    The Defense Tech blog is “SUPPOSED to be about technical issues within the US military. Not a place for trolls, race baiters and over the top political dogma.

    If I wanted to read that kind of crap I’d go onto Facebook or watch any of the news media shows.

    So grow up and remember that ever military person bleeds RED.

  • Joe Tripodi

    To all the Wantobe’s and knowitall’s out there: the Coast Guard is now part of Home Land Security. Their mission is not limited to immigration control or rescuing weekend sailors from themselves. This may come as a surprise but, harbors are NOT a secure environment!
    What they are looking for, is a weapon they can use if, your sorry a** is standing next to a bad guy with malace of heart, and they want to prevent the first, second or third round they fire, from ventilating yours.
    I did see a new weapon system on YouTube that will do all the math and not allow the weapon to fire until it is on target. It’s single fire, but is it off the shelf. With modification, it may allow a two, three or even four burst fire.
    The men and women of the Coast Guard put themselves in harms way so you can sleep better. Give them the respect and credit they deserve, for a job will done!

  • BMC USCG ret.

    The Coast Guard is still the Coast Guard even if it works for the Homeland Security. We still have traditions to uphold and it may be about time for everyone to read or re-read Alexander Hamilton,s letter to the Revenue Cutter Service on how to deal with an American Citizen, in fact maybe all Law Enforcement should be required to read it.

  • BosnB

    From an old retired Bosn..for the skippy’s commenting and berating Charlie Gulf: I would suggest you do a little research on the Coast Guard and it’s history in wartime. As for me, I would have liked to have your sorry butt along on a boat ride near Cat La, Vietnam in 1966. There were 28 82′ CG cutters running river patrol for nearly two years. Our mission was to intercept and destroy North Vietnamese and Viet Cong enemy and craft, …which we did. Our 311′ cutters acted as mother ships for the swift boats on which many CG Bosn’s serving as coxswains. Our 311′ cutters also provided support fire for troops on the ground. My son served in Desert Storm in the liberation of Kuwait and is a second tour vet in Afghanistan. Yes…and we are both Coasties. True, the CG save fishermen, Katrina victims and provide port security. There is also a great group that have and are intercepting the drug runners coming out of S. America. As far as the precision gun mount…..collateral damage happens…get over it.

    • BMC USCG ret.

      Sounds to me like you are a wannabe soldier. The Coast Guard is and has always been a Law enforcement, SAR, and Marine Safety entity. When the Coast Guard went to war it was under the U. S. Navy. The Coast Guard should have never been used in wartime unless as part of the Navy. What you are talking about is Commandants trying to get a piece of the wartime budget pie, along with a little personal glory. The comment about collateral damage in an American Harbor by a Coast Guardsman is something one should “get over ” is insulting to the CG and something a real Coast Guard Leader would never consider.

    • CaptainDoc

      USCG should not have been deployed outside CONUS. You are forgetting the word “coast” our coast. Sending the USCG outside CONUS is a terrible waste of money, equipment and manpower. SO MUCH FOR THE NEED OF USCG OUTSIDE CONUS. You have that correct that they are part of homeland security another police agency for protecting the country. What ever happened to the US Navy, Army, DEA, BATF and Air Force? Did they just go away. If you take the amount of people that actually need the USCG into account against the amount of $$ spent for the operations you will find civilian, non police can handle the job very well at a cost of 80% less of what the USCG costs. I was on the ground in during the RVN war and never saw a coastie as they were far and few between.

    • CaptainDoc

      your chest must sore from beating on it and your arms broken from patting yourself on the back. sounds pretty dangerous being on a 82′ boat on the river! must have missed that as they were so far from shore you could not see them. the USN did most of the work and the CG was not involved as they were so busy worrying about damage and responsibilities. there were lots of men and women that got a little closer, did not get hot meals, showers each day and the casualties mounted in the thousands. so quit sniveling that was 30+ years ago. the CG should not have anything more than a 9 m/m

      • BosnB

        Thank you for your service to our county. You have a super day.

  • BosnB

    Chief I suppose being a BMC you may have missed the part about the Coast Guard being (asked){ not as a part of the Navy}… to participate in Vietnam. The cutters that were assigned that duty, were never under U.S.Navy jurisdiction and took no orders from the same. Just so you know. In reference to your remark “Wannabe soldier”. No sir, just a BM2 at the time and a fairly good coxswain. Graduated radio school, Groton, CT RM3 in 1960. Changed my rate to BM as I wanted to be on deck and to hang with some real BMC’s. Thank you.

  • J.M. DeAngelis

    I believe the motto is Semper Paratus…so along with the ever increasing and diverse duties “given” the Coast Guard, we must be train and equipped to handle whatever comes our way. That being said….WE HAVE ALWAYS MANGED TO MAKE DUE AND GET THE JOB DONE!

  • Mike

    Automatic fire in a marine environment will have rounds skipping off the water and going in all directions no matter how accurate or controllable the weapon is. Automatic weapons should not be used in the described environment, sniper rifles with highly trained shooters is the only really safe option. I’ve fired the M1, M-60 and M-14 from Navy and Coast Guard ships and they all ricochet in every direction as soon as the rounds contact the water. Too many administrators involved with this decision and not enough common sense.

    • CaptainDoc

      very correct.

  • Jon

    Here is the deal with firing a crew served weapon on a small boat in a security mission. The boat is maneuvering as a fast rate. This combined with a platform that is small and fast. Wave action takes its toll on the ability to aim a weapon especially if the gunner is small and unable to keep position at the weapon. Yes, you are strapped in, but it can be difficult to keep stable. The weapon mounts we use now are so free moving that is hard to keep on target. Hydraulic stabilizers would be a big help. Most units use M240B on the small boats. Some units use M2 Just depends on the unit and the mission. The M2 is mounted too high for some of us to be able to fire it accurately on plane.

    Yes, bullets will ricochet when they hit the water. This is just part of the game. You can eliminate a lot of collateral damage with a system that moves when the gunner moves it, not just free floating.


  • CG Doc

    This isn’t a case of Coast Guard crew members needing to learn how to shoot or what targets to shoot. This is the Coast Guard trying to limit the amount of collateral damage that could take place. Certainly they could adopt the “spray and pray” method of some machine gunners but for them protecting the public is just as important a hitting the target. Remember you aren’t talking about taking a shot from a stable, unmoving, platform. They are taking these shots from a moving vessel that is battling wind and waves.

  • cafed

    Stabilized RWS with a semi-trigger/FA pack

  • Johnw

    The solution the Coast Guard seeks already exists and has been tested extensively by the Navy. Fully Stabilized T-360 Remotely Operated Weapons Station for the M240 is made by Precision Remotes.

  • CG GM

    Concur with a PRL T-360, a proven system and used in many applications. As good if not better than a Kongsberg non US manufactured weapon at probably 1/10th of the cost. Put an externally powered 7.62mm on it that has a variable rate full auto as well as semi and single shot capabilities. Then the system could be used in the many different operations the USCG is tasked with.

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  • Mike

    Once again wanting to use a hammer where a q-tip is needed.

  • MAM

    Keep the mount you have and use a longer barrel, contact FN. If that doesnt increase precision to a suitable level, you will need a new system all together. Best of Luck

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  • CG FS

    I don’t think the thought of disabling fire has even been thought of by you bone heads. No disrespect but sometimes stopping a ship or boat that is moving through a harbor is more important than killing all the bad guys. Being able to put all your rounds in one tight spout without collateral damage is a good thing.

  • S.Evans

    Buy HK21E MG’s from Heckler Koch. Yeah, sure, there’s a generation older, and they have a lower fire rate, but the fire from a CLOSED bolt, which means they can ALSO be employed as a designated marksman’s rifle if equipped with a standard MG ACOG.

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