Army Reserves to Receive CROW System

The reserve component of the U.S. Army will begin receiving the XM153 Common Remotely Operated Weapon System (CROWS) this year in bulk issue. Last year ten Army Reserve units received the remotely controlled mounted weapon system, but due to supply and logistical issues the rest of the Reserve’s vehicle fleet slotted to receive it didn’t get it and will be getting it this year. Beginning with units in Arkansas, New Jersey and South Carolina and then continuing on throughout the Reserves.

The first Soldiers to receive the CROWS in the Army were Infantry and Stryker Brigade Combat Teams. The system is so versatile that it can be mounted on nearly any vehicle with a turret: Humvees, large trucks, tanks, watercraft and more. It’s also compatible with the M2 .50-cal machine gun, the MK19 automatic grenade launcher, the M240B rifle and the M249 squad automatic weapon. It comes with a large ammo box able to feed a massive amount of firepower into the weapon: 96 rounds for the MK19, 400 rounds for the M2, 1,000 rounds for the M240B and 1,600 rounds for the M249.

“That’s a lot of rounds you can put down range,” said Moe.

The fielding is managed by PM Soldier Weapons, a program that specializes in developing and procuring new technology to Soldiers.

“It’s going to improve the accuracy of how we fight. It’s going to reduce the number of casualties that the Army takes. It’s going to improve on our accuracy of finding the enemy,” said Arquelio Gillespie, fielding manager for the Materiel Fielding & Training Team for the Tank Automotive Command.

There was a bigger push to put CROWS on turrets in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2005 to 2009. These units, however, were intended for temporary use. Soldiers turned them back in as they returned home. Shortly after, however, the CROWS became what is known in the logistics world as a “program of record,” meaning it was approved as an official weapon assigned to units long-term.

This means all of the benefits the CROWS has to offer are here to stay and improve the Army Reserve for the long haul.

For those unfamiliar with the CROWS, give this introduction video a watch, it summarizes the system very well. Essentially it is a gun turret remotely controlled by an operator from the inside of the vehicle. It can be cocked, maneuvered, aimed, fired, even changing out ammunition sources and fixing malfunctions all from a computer screen inside the vehicle. From talking to Soldiers in Camp Leatherneck, I’ve heard that it also has an integrated shot detector that can swivel the entire system to face a threat just from where the shots are fired from. It can account for movement, so Soldiers can hit a moving target or they can hit a stationary target while the vehicle is in full motion, with the machine accounting for the variables.

Honestly I’ve very torn on the CROWS. Having been in combat as a turret gunner for a large number of mounted missions, I can certainly attest to the vulnerability of being in a turret. It can be extremely unsafe during vehicle roll overs or IEDs and we’ve lost a number of turret gunners, both Army and Marines from these accidents. To a well trained shooter, a turret gunner is an excellent target, much more so in the earlier Iraq days when the up-armored Humvees didn’t exist. Even with the additional armor protection there were two Marines from my company that took rounds to the Kevlar while operating in a turret gunner capacity on mounted patrols.

However, I can also attest to the advantages of having a live human in the turret. Many times these turret gunners provide a set of eyes and ears that a buttoned up tactical vehicle wouldn’t otherwise have. They can hear, see, sense, even take in the smells of an area of operations while on patrol and provide valuable feedback to the crew. An open turret also provides an excellent avenue of escape because it is open and can be crawled out of during a vehicle roll-over. More importantly these gunners can get a visual of the terrain the vehicle is traversing. On one particular occasion when I was a vehicle commander, we were about to lead the convoy down what appeared to be a simple bump in the landscape. But my turret gunner quickly yelled down to us that what appeared to be a bump, was actually a five foot drop! He was able to see this because he was so high in the air.





Miles

Infantry Marine, based in the Midwest. Specifically interested in small arms history, development, and usage within the MENA region and Central Asia. To that end, I run Silah Report, a website dedicated to analyzing small arms history and news out of MENA and Central Asia.

Please feel free to get in touch with me about something I can add to a post, an error I’ve made, or if you just want to talk guns. I can be reached at miles@tfb.tv


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  • RSG

    I need that for my SUV. How much you want for the CROWS and SAW, Wonka?

    • Wow!

      If you got the cash and the paperwork, Dillon will outfit your ride with a minigun. 😀

  • Geoff Timm

    What ever happened to the Israeli pop up pintle mount from the M-48A5? That gave overhead back and front protection and still allowed the commander to look around unimpeded? I thought the next great thing was a helmet that linked to external sensors and allowed the vehicle commander and gunner to “look” through the sides of the vehicle. Geoff Who thought that was a neat idea.

    • Bierstadt54

      AFAIK it is still the next great idea – I think a couple of companies have developed systems to do it, but I don’t recall if anyone has fielded it yet.

  • mrpotatocat

    Okay so this is pretty neat.

  • Full Name

    No word on the Tom Servo weapon system

    • Secundius

      “Kickstarter” Pilot Program to Restart “Tom Servo” for ~$2-Million USD. was in November 2015, ~$5,764,229.00 USD was raised. First Pilot was scheduled for 4 January 2016, with Release on Netflix in 14 April 2017…

  • chris

    I agree that a turret gunner is good for close in situational awareness but remote weapons station is a great ISR asset for medium to far range.

    I have only used the german FLW 200 but especially the thermal part is great because you dont just see the enemy even with really good camouflage in a clutterd surrounding and almoust every mussle flash. You also see were an enemy was in the last couple of minutes and were he went and that out to 2000m.
    And they arecompletely stabilized how dosen’t like that?

  • Been there, done that

    No mention about how you can’t elevate the gun high enough to shoot back when operating in mountainous terrain vs having a live human behind the M2/MK 19/M240. CROWS worked well in Iraq but when my unit was in RC-East we refused to have them installed on our Cougars and M-ATVs for this very reason…

  • valorius

    Gyro-stabilized fun for the whole family.

  • CommonSense23

    Having spent a lot of time with this platform I’m really curious how exactly someone is saying the gun can fix malfunctions or change ammunition from inside the vehicle.

  • mcjagermech

    the sensors below the gun seem vulnerable to an explosion or a lucky hit from a rifle

    • Jrggrop

      As opposed to the face of a gunner?

      • mcjagermech

        of course it’s better than getting your head blown off, i’m just surprised as how vulnerable they look.

      • MeaCulpa

        Well a gunners face is a pretty easy field fix -not changing just the face component mind you, but rather replacing the whole “gun-operator-sub-system” – the gun should be firing again in seconds.

        (I jest, I jest)

    • D

      Or rocks! When I was in Afghanistan the little kids would chuck rocks at the thermal sensor. Luckily they never got a direct hit.

  • Iggy

    While delivery would be a issue, I’ve always wondered if external vehicle sensors like this could be defeated by a an accurately thrown glass bottle of paint.

  • TW

    It looks to be a great system but I think for reserve unit a mount without the thermals and other high end sensors would suffice. Only due to the cost of the system. There are a few platforms out there that due just that. Low cost without thermals and laser rangefinders.

  • nick

    I was on the field team for our system like this back in 2000 here in Canada, the RWS (Remote Weapons Station) was a “first gen” type , same basic idea, that was tested on our LAV’s and MTVL ( now called the TLAV) a modified M113 ( bigger HP, a hyrdosatic steering system and one metre longer than the A3 with RISE….in case anyone is curious)

    good system, but prone to damage and poor elevation, although it did have an “anti air ” function, it would be tough to use in a steep terrain enviro . The damage thing is important, as once you lose capability, you cant run the system “manually” , so if the sensors or system controls are down, you loose your primary weapon.

  • LGonDISQUS

    Could we use these on the Southern US border on turret poles instead of a physical wall? ??

    • Wow!

      I say lets do it all.

  • Cm

    questions- i never served and have no experience with any weapons system. even though there is side armor around the optics they seem to be a very large target. has optical glass become totally resistant to a AK round or an RPG?

    considering that much of our on the ground involvement will be in very high dust areas, how to keep the optics clean midst battle without exposing the operator to fire?

    i ask these question in all seriousness.

    • Secundius

      Optical Glass isn’t used anymore! A “Cermet” (CERamic/METal) composite called ALON or “Aluminum Oxynitride” (Al23O27N5) aka “Transparent Aluminum”. Approximately 1.6-inches (~41mm) will stop a M2 .50-caliber Armor Piercing Round at Point Blank Range…

  • nonobaddog

    The next step of course is to get these in the hands of the police so we can all feel safer.
    This could really help them with their murder trials. There would be no accountability at all.
    It would go like – “Not guilty, your honor, the machine did it.”