Prototype vehicle may change future battlefield
Story and photo by Spc. David Foley/The Bayonet
FORT BENNING, Ga. (TRADOC News Service, Sept. 27, 2004) – The Army has developed a prototype of a vehicle that may change the future battlefield.
The Assault Weapon System, an experimental turret-mounted, multifunctional weapon system attached to a humvee, may put the firepower of an entire heavy-weapons platoon into one vehicle.
The system is the brainchild of Training and Doctrine Command, Raytheon and TRADOC System Manager-Close Combat Weapon Systems, and features an MK-19 grenade launcher, .50-caliber machine gun and two TOW missile-firing platforms.
All three of the weapon systems are connected to a central Improved Target Acquisition System that gives the gunner the option of firing each weapon with the flick of a switch and automatically gauges the range of the target by using an eye-safe laser range finder.
When the gunner flips a switch on the control panel and charges the weapon of choice, the display will change for the particular weapon and will show the sights for that weapon.
In older systems, the gunner would have to “walk in” the grenades when firing the MK-19, which means it would take several shots to hit the target. However, the ballistics for each weapon are already integrated into the ITAS, which gives the gunner better accuracy.
“This is probably the most flexible fire-support system to the day,” said Sgt. 1st Class Charles McCartney, Company A, 511th Infantry Regiment, Fort Bragg, N.C., who was showing the vehicle during the infantry conference Sept. 20-23. “The best part about it is its flexibility, the fact you can select the weapon you want to use.”
The system also features a networked, persistent, all-weather, extended range surveillance and target-acquisition capabilities for increased survivability and situational awareness.
The key to the improved communication is a system called Force XXI Command Battalion Brigade and Below, which provides a connection among all the elements on the battlefield. FBCB2 combines Global Positioning System technology with a long-range laser targeting system that keeps everyone on the battlefield connected using real-time audio video and text messages.
In essence, the unit’s operations center can watch the battle through the gunner’s sights and, if air support is needed, the position of the target will already be narrowed down to within 10 meters.
McCartney said it currently takes several vehicles and nearly a whole platoon to match the AWS’s versatility, and if the system is approved, it can greatly increase the Army’s fighting capabilities.
“We can have one vehicle doing the job of three, or we can have three vehicles doing three times as much,” he said.
The vehicle on display was a watered-down version of the tactical vehicle that is still in the construction phase.
Plans for the tactical version include a smaller, collapsible turret, removable composite armor plating, undercarriage protection from mines, a smaller targeting screen, and the gunner’s seat may be moved to the rear of the vehicle to allow for another team member and lower the distractions for both the gunner and the commander, said Wayne Spate, AWS program manager.
are already working on the tactical version because, if it gets approved,
we will already have it and we can put it on the battlefield quicker,”
The Assault Weapon System was one of many prototype weapon systems on display at the Infantry Conference at Infantry Hall last week.The Assault Weapon System was one of many prototype weapon systems on display at the Infantry Conference at Infantry Hall last week.