How remote weapon stations are helping armed forces stay ahead of the game

Published September 2023 | Shephard Media
Written by Gerrard Cowan, Freelance Defence Journalist

As remote weapon stations become more compact and flexible, developers are finding new uses for them on lighter and uncrewed vehicles, as well as adding extra sensors and effectors to the traditional gun and sight.

Remote weapon stations (RWS) are a growing focus for militaries around the world. There is an increasing emphasis on adapting these systems to address evolving threats and new platform classes, notably uncrewed vehicles.

There have been significant technological advances in RWS in recent years, said Matt Jones, executive VP of EOS Defence Systems, manufacturer of the R150, a 12.7mm RWS aimed at platforms where weight is constrained.

For example, he pointed to the introduction of the lightweight M230LF, a 30mm chain gun that enables high-calibre precision engagements, expanding the target capabilities of RWS.

‘Developments in ammunition choices and fusing technology have further contributed to defeating unmanned aerial systems, rendering RWS more versatile and effective,’ he added. ‘These enhancements collectively provide a more adaptable and cost-effective approach to modern warfare.’

The evolving strategic context necessitates further expansion in RWS targeting capabilities, Jones added, noting a shift from ground-based threats to include drones.

‘Precision in tracking and stabilisation is imperative for effective drone engagement. Failure to achieve these technical standards compromises the cost-effectiveness of the weapon station, especially when compared against systems specifically engineered for drone countermeasures,’ he added.

A further focus is on the integration of specialist features to add versatility and efficiency. One recent development is the addition of commander’s sights on turrets, providing both traditional sighting methods and hunter-killer capabilities for more rapid target acquisition, Jones said.

‘Additionally, the commander’s dedicated weapon system enables extended standard engagement ranges and offers a versatile solution for counter-drone operations. This approach makes it possible for non-specialised forces to counter drones at shorter ranges without the need for expensive, dedicated systems, using relatively simple means such as machine guns.’

Customer demand has evolved, he said, particularly in the context of uncrewed ground vehicles (UGVs) and autonomous systems. EOS has a particular focus here, he said, with the company’s systems used on robotic platforms in several countries and the development of strategic collaborations with prominent UGV manufacturers.

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