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Army tests remote-controlled weapons systems for base security

October 1st, 2015 at 10:00 PM

The U.S. Army is testing remote controlled weapons systems for base perimeter security.

The tests at Fort Bliss, Texas, involve unmanned, weaponized towers, which aim to make more effective use of military personnel. Using the remote controlled systems, two soldiers inside the base camp tactical operation center can do the security work once done by 10, explained Lt. Col. Raphael Heflin, commander, 142nd Combat Service Support Battalion (CSSB), 1st Armored Division, in a press release. “Every Soldier I have assigned to securing the perimeter is one I don’t have that can execute support missions,” he said.

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The systems, and the “expeditionary towers” they are mounted on, are known as containerized weapons systems. One expeditionary tower “can be put together by six Soldiers in less than an hour, with minimal training,” said Capt. Robert Scott, officer-in-charge of the 142nd CSSB’s base defense operation center, in the press release. When it’s time to pack up and leave, everything fits neatly back inside the container.

Tests at Fort Bliss have used a Browning M-2 50-caliber machine gun and a 338 Lapua sniper rifle mounted on towers, although most types of gun system can be mounted.

The weapons can be raised, lowered, rotated by 360-degrees and fired remotely, according to Scott, who noted that they are controlled using Joint All Hazard Command Control System software. The software serves as the brain of the sophisticated “Tower Hawk System” for base surveillance, he added.

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The tests are part of Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) 16.1, a program to evaluate new and emerging technology that runs from Sept. 25 to Oct. 8. Some 9,000 participants are taking part in NIE 16.1, including U.S. military personnel and a 14-member coalition from mostly NATO nations.

In addition to the remote weapon system, troops are also testing a number of operational energy systems designed to improve energy efficiency. For example, an Advanced Medium Mobile Power Source, or “amps micro grid,” controls six 60-kilowatt generators. A smart system, the amps micro grid can detect how much power the base camp is consuming.

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When there is not enough power, the system turns on more generators, according to Maj. Daniel Rodriguez, company commander, 542nd Quartermaster Company, in the press release. When the generators are not needed, the system automatically turns off one or more of them. The system also determines which generator has been used the most and selects a fresh one to give the used one a rest.

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