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Posted: 3/10/2006 5:45:31 AM EDT
No pics, sorry.

Video Games Can Save Your Life

March 10, 2006: The U.S. Army has discovered a remote control gun turret that works, and cannot get enough of them. The army wants over 9,000 CROWS (common remotely operated weapon stations), but is only getting 15 a month. There should be about a thousand CROWS in service by the end of the year.



The idea for CROWS has been around for nearly half a century. Years of tinkering, and better technology, eventually made the remote control gun turret effective and dependable. CROWS us a real life saver, not to mention anxiety reducer, for troops who drive through bandit country a lot, and have a turret mounted gun (usually in a hummer). The guy manning the turret mounted machine-gun is a target up there, and too often, the bad guys get you. Not with CROWS. The gunner is inside the vehicle, checking out the surroundings on a computer monitor (with night vision and telephoto capabilities). CROWS also has a laser rangefinder built in, as well as a stabilizer mechanism to allow more accurate fire while the vehicle is moving. The CROWS systems cost about $260,000 each, and can mount a variety of weapons (M2 .50 caliber machine-gun, MK19 40-mm automatic grenade launcher, M240B 7.62mm machine-gun and M249 5.56mm squad automatic weapon).



But there's another reason, not often talked about, for the success of CROWS. The guys operating these systems grew up playing video games. They developed skills in operating systems (video games) very similar to the CROWS controls. This was important, because viewing the world around the vehicle via a vidcam is not as enlightening (although a lot safer) than having your head and chest exposed to the elements, and any firepower the enemy sends your way. But experienced video gamers are skilled at whipping that screen view around, and picking up any signs of danger. Iraqis are amazed at how observant CROWS is. Iraqis tend to just wrote this off as another example of American "magic." But the troops know betters. Video games can save your life.

www.strategypage.com/htmw/htarm/articles/20060310.aspx
Link Posted: 3/10/2006 5:53:49 AM EDT
So my arm chair commando ass was trained for free by the video game industry, and the Army is taking avantage of this. I like this idea.
Link Posted: 3/10/2006 6:41:46 AM EDT

Originally Posted By FunYun1983:
So my arm chair commando ass was trained for free by the video game industry, and the Army is taking avantage of this. I like this idea.



And people bitch about UCAVs and the "Fighter Mafia".
Just wait till the "Grunt Mafia" gets ahold of this.
Of course, grunts - doing most of the fighting and dieing - will probably overlook the romanticism and give a big "Fuck Yeah!!!".
Link Posted: 3/10/2006 6:57:34 AM EDT
Awesome. Here is a good arguement for video games. Even in surgery we are using robots for precise work. Not to menton lapraoscopic surgery, you are looking at a 2D image and have to manipulate the controls and parts. Its very easy to see who has played lots of video games and who hasnt. Girls usually suck are it until they get some practice. A lot of the guys the have the depth perception thing down right away.
Link Posted: 3/10/2006 7:00:52 AM EDT
Did they field test with silverbacks and aliens?
Link Posted: 3/10/2006 7:04:59 AM EDT
Link Posted: 3/10/2006 7:10:12 AM EDT
I prefer the wind in my face.

I can't count how many humvees I've seen with a sleeping soldier in the turret. This will only make it worse. Great for engaging at night, but shitty for observation and field of view.

With added protection comes a sacrifice. Mobility, observation, security....





Link Posted: 3/10/2006 7:11:27 AM EDT
I love how something that should be at most $5000-10000 is the price of a house.

The military should go find about 5 engineering students and get them to make a cheaper version that is easy to massproduce. After the students finish that project (should only take 3-4 weeks) then they can make a vehicle mounted antipersonel weapon thats basically a claymore that can be mounted on the humvee.

Sometimes weapons manufacturers really suck ass.
Link Posted: 3/10/2006 7:16:31 AM EDT
Add a 360 sensor system
Link Posted: 3/10/2006 7:18:35 AM EDT

Originally Posted By mort:
I love how something that should be at most $5000-10000 is the price of a house.

The military should go find about 5 engineering students and get them to make a cheaper version that is easy to massproduce. After the students finish that project (should only take 3-4 weeks) then they can make a vehicle mounted antipersonel weapon thats basically a claymore that can be mounted on the humvee.

Sometimes weapons manufacturers really suck ass.




why? *they* aren't paying for it...


Link Posted: 3/10/2006 7:19:18 AM EDT

Originally Posted By mort:
I love how something that should be at most $5000-10000 is the price of a house.

The military should go find about 5 engineering students and get them to make a cheaper version that is easy to massproduce. After the students finish that project (should only take 3-4 weeks) then they can make a vehicle mounted antipersonel weapon thats basically a claymore that can be mounted on the humvee.

Sometimes weapons manufacturers really suck ass.



Big +1,

Lets see here, NVG, High-Res CCD, motion control servos, and a TFT LCD screen....not seeing how that adds up to the price of a Ferrari.

As per your anti personel weapon idea they have something like that for tanks (or at least it was in development). It's a grenade that is fired straight up then explodes with a hail of flechetes that surround the tank taking care of any unarmored hajis trying to stick an IED to an abrams.
Link Posted: 3/10/2006 7:22:44 AM EDT

Originally Posted By falaholic1:
Did they field test with silverbacks and aliens?



Aliens and congo reference quota met.
Link Posted: 3/10/2006 7:23:58 AM EDT
Mort:
These mounts are usable for precise shooting out to hundreds of yards, in battle conditions while the vehicle is evading incoming fire. That's going to cost some money. Hell, the .gov pays more than $10k for an M2 .50cal.

Kharn
Link Posted: 3/10/2006 7:44:58 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/10/2006 7:45:35 AM EDT by FightingHellfish]

I've seen a lot of the high tech stuff roll through the NTC.

I had a very elaborate, detailed post but I deleted it after giving it some OPSEC consideration.

I'll just say that Cincinattus is right.
Link Posted: 3/10/2006 1:29:30 PM EDT

I had a thought many years ago that, with the coming technological warfare age, the military might have a continuing vested interest in making sure that there are plenty of people with quick reflexes and the ability to use simple computer interfaces to track and kill targets.

Link Posted: 3/10/2006 9:10:37 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/10/2006 9:11:24 PM EDT by TheSneak]
The Army did pay for the development of the free Army FPS game, after all.

Anyone else here seen the movie "Toys"?

I wonder if you steer the gun with a mouse or a joystick. Mouse is 100 times faster and more accurate, but might not be so dependable in battle conditions.
Link Posted: 3/11/2006 5:40:24 AM EDT

Originally Posted By mort:
I love how something that should be at most $5000-10000 is the price of a house.

The military should go find about 5 engineering students and get them to make a cheaper version that is easy to massproduce. After the students finish that project (should only take 3-4 weeks) then they can make a vehicle mounted antipersonel weapon thats basically a claymore that can be mounted on the humvee.

Sometimes weapons manufacturers really suck ass.



[rant]

You don't have the faintest clue.

First of all, the item will never be "mass produced". So there goes all that economy right out the window. The military doesn't buy enough of any system of this complexity for it to be mass produced. Beans and bullets, yes. CROWS systems, no.

Second of all, if they could build it out of off-the-shelf components they would, but they can't. I defy you to find a CCD camera system that will survive a 65 deg C day in direct sunlight for less than several thousand dollars. Oh, and now make sure it will survive the constant pounding of the gun system. Oh, and figure out some way to adjust it's boresight and stay boresighted. And don't forget about making it sand/dust/water proof, too. And that's just the camera. Don't forget the thermal imager and any other optics they want. And the rotary joints for all the electronic connections. Yessir, you can just go down to Walmart and buy those rotary joints. And cables that have to have lifetimes in the millions of flexions. And they are only going to buy a few thousand of them.

Next you pretty much have to build all this stuff in the U.S. No cheap ass offshore sweatshop is going to touch you because you are building thousands of something. Not hundred thousands of something.

Next you have to go through the same process with every other subsystem: the gimbal, the drive motors and electronics, etc. Then you've got to do a sh*tload of testing because if the friggin' thing goes off when somebody transmits on the radio you're going to be sh*tload of trouble. Just the qualification testing alone takes months. If you don't fail any of it and have to start over.

Then you've got the overhead associated with administering government contracts. You don't just ship it in a brown paper bag. Hell no. You've got to have a brown paper bag with 2D bar code labels on it, etc.

And finally, after all that, the government has the right to come and audit your proposed cost right down to the last friggin screw and labor hour so they know EXACTLY what it costs you to build it and THEN they negotiate your profit, which for a firm fixed price production program is usually in the 5-10% range and rarely exceeds 15%.

The people and companies that do this stuff for a living do it because they are patriotic and they believe in a strong America. Nobody would put up with those kind of profits let alone the BS associated with government contracting for any lesser reason.

I dare you to meet the requirement for less. The technical specification alone is probably 100 pages long. I double dare you.

[/rant]

P.S. My company is working on the 360 vision problem. It ain't easy, mostly because the users keep crapping on all the ideas. It's tough to acceptably recreate a heads up environment.

P.P.S. Cincinattus et al: +1, viewing life through a soda straw sucks.
Link Posted: 3/11/2006 6:42:36 AM EDT

Originally Posted By aa777888-2:

Originally Posted By mort:
I love how something that should be at most $5000-10000 is the price of a house.

The military should go find about 5 engineering students and get them to make a cheaper version that is easy to massproduce. After the students finish that project (should only take 3-4 weeks) then they can make a vehicle mounted antipersonel weapon thats basically a claymore that can be mounted on the humvee.

Sometimes weapons manufacturers really suck ass.



[rant]
You don't have the faintest clue.
[snip]




+1 to everything aa777888-2 said, but from the opposite perspective. The govt takes a lot of heat anytime it buys something that doesnt work, so everything must be spec'ed out and tested until the cows come home. If we bought $10k CROWS, everyone would complain when they stopped working after <100 hours in the desert.

Kharn
Link Posted: 3/11/2006 7:11:27 AM EDT
does this thing work on narrow streets? it'll be great if IED gunners don't get hit with shrapnel but what if they can't see some goober come around a corner with an RPG-7?
Link Posted: 3/11/2006 7:30:14 AM EDT
is there a rumble-pak built in to the controller?
Link Posted: 3/11/2006 7:57:31 AM EDT

Originally Posted By aa777888-2:

Originally Posted By mort:
I love how something that should be at most $5000-10000 is the price of a house.

The military should go find about 5 engineering students and get them to make a cheaper version that is easy to massproduce. After the students finish that project (should only take 3-4 weeks) then they can make a vehicle mounted antipersonel weapon thats basically a claymore that can be mounted on the humvee.

Sometimes weapons manufacturers really suck ass.



[rant]

You don't have the faintest clue.

First of all, the item will never be "mass produced". So there goes all that economy right out the window. The military doesn't buy enough of any system of this complexity for it to be mass produced. Beans and bullets, yes. CROWS systems, no.

Second of all, if they could build it out of off-the-shelf components they would, but they can't. I defy you to find a CCD camera system that will survive a 65 deg C day in direct sunlight for less than several thousand dollars. Oh, and now make sure it will survive the constant pounding of the gun system. Oh, and figure out some way to adjust it's boresight and stay boresighted. And don't forget about making it sand/dust/water proof, too. And that's just the camera. Don't forget the thermal imager and any other optics they want. And the rotary joints for all the electronic connections. Yessir, you can just go down to Walmart and buy those rotary joints. And cables that have to have lifetimes in the millions of flexions. And they are only going to buy a few thousand of them.

Next you pretty much have to build all this stuff in the U.S. No cheap ass offshore sweatshop is going to touch you because you are building thousands of something. Not hundred thousands of something.

Next you have to go through the same process with every other subsystem: the gimbal, the drive motors and electronics, etc. Then you've got to do a sh*tload of testing because if the friggin' thing goes off when somebody transmits on the radio you're going to be sh*tload of trouble. Just the qualification testing alone takes months. If you don't fail any of it and have to start over.

Then you've got the overhead associated with administering government contracts. You don't just ship it in a brown paper bag. Hell no. You've got to have a brown paper bag with 2D bar code labels on it, etc.

And finally, after all that, the government has the right to come and audit your proposed cost right down to the last friggin screw and labor hour so they know EXACTLY what it costs you to build it and THEN they negotiate your profit, which for a firm fixed price production program is usually in the 5-10% range and rarely exceeds 15%.

The people and companies that do this stuff for a living do it because they are patriotic and they believe in a strong America. Nobody would put up with those kind of profits let alone the BS associated with government contracting for any lesser reason.

I dare you to meet the requirement for less. The technical specification alone is probably 100 pages long. I double dare you.

[/rant]

P.S. My company is working on the 360 vision problem. It ain't easy, mostly because the users keep crapping on all the ideas. It's tough to acceptably recreate a heads up environment.

P.P.S. Cincinattus et al: +1, viewing life through a soda straw sucks.



Fantastic post.
Link Posted: 3/12/2006 4:30:32 AM EDT

Originally Posted By COLE-CARBINE:

Fantastic post.



[elvis]Thank you. Thank you very much.[/elvis]
Link Posted: 3/12/2006 5:00:27 AM EDT

Originally Posted By aa777888-2:

Originally Posted By COLE-CARBINE:

Fantastic post.



[elvis]Thank you. Thank you very much.[/elvis]



yes indeed.
Link Posted: 3/12/2006 5:11:26 AM EDT
I had seen the new gunners control in the Cobra is shaped like a game controller. I figured that was genious. We have an entire generation raised on video games.

As Dennis Miller said "Give my kid a bag of cheetos and a barkolounger (sp?) and he'll fly that missle right up Saddams ass!"
Link Posted: 3/12/2006 5:16:41 AM EDT

aa777888-2- While I agree with your points about commercial equipment not surviving heat and dust requirements, my frustrating experience is repeatedly seeing Government and Defense Contractors who've never gotten a single clump of mud in their boots turning a workable prototype into an item that costs five times the needed cost.

It's dissapointing how often people who've lived their whole life under flourescent lights end up being regarded as experts on what an end user needs.
Link Posted: 3/12/2006 5:20:58 AM EDT
I'll be impressed when they can port video feed from it and control over the internet so we can all pay to hunt Hadji's like they do with deer in Texas and Kentucky!
Link Posted: 3/12/2006 5:22:13 AM EDT

Originally Posted By aa777888-2:

Originally Posted By COLE-CARBINE:

Fantastic post.



[elvis]Thank you. Thank you very much.[/elvis]




Having just started with a DoD contractor I have to agree. We get changes at the last minute to the systems we work on and when we get those mapped out and done we get changes to the changes, etc ad nauseum for ever.

Link Posted: 3/12/2006 5:30:36 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/14/2006 3:09:30 PM EDT by JackBurton]
CROWS = Another well intentioned but impractical solution to guys getting hurt and dying... just like the Michilin Man suit they tried to field last year... There is no substitute for human reflexes and sensory perception, i.e. split second decision making using eyes and ears, quick response, and reflexive shooting. Gunners are the eyes, ears, mouths, and teeth (i.e. shooting and killing threats) of the convoy. CROWS eliminates all of that and in my opinion leaves a convoy deaf, dumb, blind, and paralyzed...
Link Posted: 3/12/2006 5:31:30 AM EDT
I KNEW SUPER MARIO WAS A HIT MAN!
Link Posted: 3/12/2006 5:37:05 AM EDT
Does anyone know what company or corporation is building these?
Link Posted: 3/12/2006 6:01:55 AM EDT

Originally Posted By crazyquik:
Does anyone know what company or corporation is building these?



The US Military has purchased over a 1000 remote weapons stations for the Stryker, from Kongsberg, a Norwegian defense contractor.

I'm not sure if these are the weapon, just renamed for US use, or a different contract.



Link Posted: 3/12/2006 8:23:48 AM EDT

Originally Posted By ED_P:
aa777888-2- While I agree with your points about commercial equipment not surviving heat and dust requirements, my frustrating experience is repeatedly seeing Government and Defense Contractors who've never gotten a single clump of mud in their boots turning a workable prototype into an item that costs five times the needed cost.

It's dissapointing how often people who've lived their whole life under flourescent lights end up being regarded as experts on what an end user needs.



And as one of those guys with the flourescent tan I agree 1000%. The system is broken, has been since the '70's, but not like Mort thinks it is.

The Federal Acquisition Regulations (the FARs) and the relevant DOD regulations do wonders for avoiding fraud, waste and abuse. But they also stifle innovation and add cost, schedule, and functional risk. It's a Catch 22 because even though a certain amount of fraud, waste and abuse is probably more efficient and cheaper for the country, the fact is it is never acceptable to the taxpayers, period.

So say the Army needs a widget. They stand up an acquiring activity that is supposed to go out and figure out what the user, the warfighter, needs, then explain this to industry, acquire the technology, test it, and finally hand it over the warfighter. This is supposed to be better because warfighters don't know anything about technology and are too busy fighting or training to fight. Meanwhile the acquirers have technical degrees as well as commissions or warrants and are trained in the acquisition process and to keep everything fair and above board. That way there should be the best of both worlds.

Unfortunately this creates a large communications problem. Rather than simply facilitate, the acquirer takes over and is also held responsible. So the lab rats have to take the acquirer's word for everything but really only have 50% of the info they need. And the users, who don't get to see anything until it's done, can't drive the design in the right direction as everyone gets smarter about solving the problem (and everyone gets a lot smarter as a multi-month or year development evolves). Even more important, the user never gets to say "Good enough!"

So the program spends 90% of its time and money solving the hardest 10% of the problem "because it is in the specification". That's one reason why they all go over budget and schedule. The other reason has to do with how you actually win government contracts. I'm not saying that the government doesn't ultimately get value for the taxpayer dollar, but starting costs are almost always low.

So in the end you wind up all too often over budget and late with systems that meet 100% of their specified requirements (which means you get paid) but are functionally useless and won't actually meet the ORD requirement (which means you have to do it all over again). That is why every system winds up as a Mod X Mod Y--no one can ever get it done right the first time. The second go around is easier because the user gets pissed at everyone and winds up in the engineer's faces.

Personally I've always made it a point to try to be the most well rounded engineer I can. I shoot, jump and dive. I listen to the scanner and play with and use electronics. I read books about the military both fiction and non-fiction. And I use every trick in the book to actually try to talk to the users. Sometimes my boss doesn't like that ("Don't change the spec!"). Sometimes the acquirer doesn't like that ("That's my job!). But sadly I am an exception. I don't think a single person at my company besides me actually owns a scanner, much less reads military history or even goes camping.

One good example: we needed a wired remote control for our system. A lot of the guys said, "Simple. We'll use a PDA." I said "Where do the batteries come from? What if it drops in the mud? How are you going to make a rugged cable connection? What about NVG compatiblity? Etc." Of course we wound up building it from scratch (we did look at some very nice ruggedized PDAs but even without any necessary mod's they were more expensive than a developmental item).

Right now I'm in the enviable position of working for an activity that goes by the "skunk works" model of engineering and that allows and encourages direct access with the user. This is only the second time in a long career this has happened. In both cases they were/are the two most successful jobs I've ever been associated with.

aa
Link Posted: 3/12/2006 8:34:55 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/14/2006 3:16:24 PM EDT by RustedAce]


I dunno, with the new up armors, I would rather be anywhere but the turret. We had one get hit with a VBIED that basically destroyed the whole humvee, but no one was hurt besides minor burns, EXCEPT the gunner, he was badly messed up, still lived though.
Link Posted: 3/12/2006 6:29:01 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/14/2006 6:29:27 PM EDT by Kharn]
Removed by request of the poster I quoted.

Kharn
Link Posted: 3/12/2006 6:31:52 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Cincinnatus:
I prefer the wind in my face.

I can't count how many humvees I've seen with a sleeping soldier in the turret. This will only make it worse. Great for engaging at night, but shitty for observation and field of view.

With added protection comes a sacrifice. Mobility, observation, security....

img.photobucket.com/albums/v471/Cincinnatus/topviewtwo.jpg

img.photobucket.com/albums/v471/Cincinnatus/triptosac.jpg




Semper Fi Devil Dawg!


And thanks for your service!
Link Posted: 3/12/2006 6:41:05 PM EDT
Im sure this will save lives.


They dont have abrams with open turrets unlike the open turret tank killers of WWII. Protection is the key. I bet the army will eventual use the strikers exclusively as the Humvee is no longer a cheap product with all the uparmor, and now CROWs. Be better to just issue Strikers or Bradleys in the future and get rid of jeep style vehicles altogether
Link Posted: 3/12/2006 7:18:56 PM EDT
If they can just incorporate some kind of automatic target assist and a wider FOV it'll be the balls.
Link Posted: 3/12/2006 7:49:47 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/12/2006 7:50:43 PM EDT by Fletchette]

Originally Posted By ED_P:
aa777888-2- While I agree with your points about commercial equipment not surviving heat and dust requirements, my frustrating experience is repeatedly seeing Government and Defense Contractors who've never gotten a single clump of mud in their boots turning a workable prototype into an item that costs five times the needed cost.

It's dissapointing how often people who've lived their whole life under flourescent lights end up being regarded as experts on what an end user needs.



So how do you KNOW that it costs five times what it should? Personally, I think I should be able to buy a Ferrarri for $10k. It doesn't work out that way.

Consider the fact that the guys "who've lived their whole life under flourescent lights" need to do that in order to build such equipment. I have 22 years of education (over a decade in university) and STILL have to go to classes to keep current. The people who designed the CROWS are indeed the experts. I hate to break it to ya, but every modern weapon system we have was dreamed up by nerds.

I will agree that the government aquisition system is in dire need of repair, and that a lot of money is wasted. But that money isn't going to "profits" for the companies and it isn't going to the engineers and scientists either. Why do you think the U.S. has so few engineers? The work is hard and the pay sucks. In general, even huge corporations like Lockheed Martin net ~10% on a contract.

Just wait until we start "outsourcing" classified work.
Link Posted: 3/12/2006 9:21:17 PM EDT

Originally Posted By aa777888-2:

Originally Posted By ED_P:
aa777888-2- While I agree with your points about commercial equipment not surviving heat and dust requirements, my frustrating experience is repeatedly seeing Government and Defense Contractors who've never gotten a single clump of mud in their boots turning a workable prototype into an item that costs five times the needed cost.

It's dissapointing how often people who've lived their whole life under flourescent lights end up being regarded as experts on what an end user needs.



And as one of those guys with the flourescent tan I agree 1000%. The system is broken, has been since the '70's, but not like Mort thinks it is.

The Federal Acquisition Regulations (the FARs) and the relevant DOD regulations do wonders for avoiding fraud, waste and abuse. But they also stifle innovation and add cost, schedule, and functional risk. It's a Catch 22 because even though a certain amount of fraud, waste and abuse is probably more efficient and cheaper for the country, the fact is it is never acceptable to the taxpayers, period.

So say the Army needs a widget. They stand up an acquiring activity that is supposed to go out and figure out what the user, the warfighter, needs, then explain this to industry, acquire the technology, test it, and finally hand it over the warfighter. This is supposed to be better because warfighters don't know anything about technology and are too busy fighting or training to fight. Meanwhile the acquirers have technical degrees as well as commissions or warrants and are trained in the acquisition process and to keep everything fair and above board. That way there should be the best of both worlds.

Unfortunately this creates a large communications problem. Rather than simply facilitate, the acquirer takes over and is also held responsible. So the lab rats have to take the acquirer's word for everything but really only have 50% of the info they need. And the users, who don't get to see anything until it's done, can't drive the design in the right direction as everyone gets smarter about solving the problem (and everyone gets a lot smarter as a multi-month or year development evolves). Even more important, the user never gets to say "Good enough!"

So the program spends 90% of its time and money solving the hardest 10% of the problem "because it is in the specification". That's one reason why they all go over budget and schedule. The other reason has to do with how you actually win government contracts. I'm not saying that the government doesn't ultimately get value for the taxpayer dollar, but starting costs are almost always low.

So in the end you wind up all too often over budget and late with systems that meet 100% of their specified requirements (which means you get paid) but are functionally useless and won't actually meet the ORD requirement (which means you have to do it all over again). That is why every system winds up as a Mod X Mod Y--no one can ever get it done right the first time. The second go around is easier because the user gets pissed at everyone and winds up in the engineer's faces.

Personally I've always made it a point to try to be the most well rounded engineer I can. I shoot, jump and dive. I listen to the scanner and play with and use electronics. I read books about the military both fiction and non-fiction. And I use every trick in the book to actually try to talk to the users. Sometimes my boss doesn't like that ("Don't change the spec!"). Sometimes the acquirer doesn't like that ("That's my job!). But sadly I am an exception. I don't think a single person at my company besides me actually owns a scanner, much less reads military history or even goes camping.

One good example: we needed a wired remote control for our system. A lot of the guys said, "Simple. We'll use a PDA." I said "Where do the batteries come from? What if it drops in the mud? How are you going to make a rugged cable connection? What about NVG compatiblity? Etc." Of course we wound up building it from scratch (we did look at some very nice ruggedized PDAs but even without any necessary mod's they were more expensive than a developmental item).

Right now I'm in the enviable position of working for an activity that goes by the "skunk works" model of engineering and that allows and encourages direct access with the user. This is only the second time in a long career this has happened. In both cases they were/are the two most successful jobs I've ever been associated with.

aa



I'm curious as to how fast the CROWS system can slew to a target vs how quickly a human gunner can move the turret?
Link Posted: 3/12/2006 9:50:06 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/12/2006 9:55:06 PM EDT by tweeter]
I've poked and prodded a CROWS that was doing ForcePro on a FOB in Mosul and I've used an RWS (Remote Weapon Station on a Stryker) as well. They use pretty much the same principles to operate as well. If the manufacturers aren't the same, they are certainly very similar in most respects, to include appearance.

It won't replace gunners, so settle down about the robots-are-taking over panic.

As for the success of the user in actual engagements... All I have to say is, have you actually seen a teenager play HALO? Put a real gun in the game.


ETA: I like this aa777888-2 guy... thanks for letting me peek inside at the frustrations of the guys that make the widgets for us.
Link Posted: 3/12/2006 10:36:21 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/14/2006 3:10:40 PM EDT by JackBurton]
DoD Wants Lid on IED Leaks
InsideDefense.com NewsStand | Jason Sherman | March 14, 2006
The Defense Department is teeing up a new policy that aims to limit the disclosure of information about roadside bombs -- including military defenses and vulnerabilities -- in order to "deny enemies easy access to critical intelligence," according to a draft of the policy.

A draft memo prepared for Gordon England, the deputy defense secretary, would impose strict limits on all exchanges of information on improvised explosive devices and efforts to defeat them. This includes a mandate that all requests for information from journalists regarding IED threats and IED defeat efforts be routed through public affairs offices, according to a copy of the memo.

The policy would also require entire new discipline on exchanging information related to IED efforts across the government, academia and industry.

“Preserving information security is a critical component to winning this war and protecting the lives of our service members,” states the draft memo. “We must protect sensitive information and deny our enemies easy access to critical intelligence.”

Prepared by the office of Montgomery Meigs, a retired Army general who serves as director of the Defense Department's Joint IED Defeat Organization, the draft memo notes, “The enemies we face are adaptive and innovative and they glean substantial information from open sources.

“Individual pieces of information, though possibly insignificant taken alone, when aggregated provide robust information about our capabilities and weaknesses,” the memo continues.

President Bush, in a speech today at George Washington University that highlighted a range of Defense Department efforts to thwart IEDs, underscored the need to withhold select details of the government's efforts to defeat roadside bombs.

“The enemy can use even the smallest details to overcome our defenses,” Bush said. “We cannot let the enemy know how we're working to defeat them.”

Pentagon officials say they have strong evidence showing that adversaries in Iraq scour open sources, including press reports and private and professional technological forums, to acquire new understandings of U.S. military operations and practices.

Bush, for example, cited how enemy forces recently used a newspaper article that discussed a new counter-IED technology and within five days posted on the Internet a guide to defeating the device.

Pentagon sources said the story in question was a Feb. 12 Los Angeles Times item on the Joint IED Neutralizer, which noted the “remote-controlled device blows up roadside bombs with a directed electrical charge.”

That description of the technology appeared well before the Times story in numerous open sources, including the report accompanying the defense appropriations supplemental spending bill last May.

“News coverage of this topic has provided a rich source of information for the enemy, and we inadvertently contribute to our enemies' collection efforts through our responses to media interest,” states the draft memo.

The document includes “key messages approved for general use,” including: “The IED threat and its defeat is a top priority for DOD” and “DOD is making a significant investment (both in money and people) to defeat IEDs.”

The policy calls on military officials to use the “utmost care” in keeping information about effective U.S. defenses and vulnerabilities out of open sources, including academic and research papers.

The new policy also targets industry information.

“Unclassified documents such as requests for proposal and responses to them must not include sensitive information,” states the draft memo. “Such information should never be posted on non-secure web sites.”

The draft policy also identifies a category of “specifically protected information” prohibited from release in open sources, including: knowledge of specific enemy IED tactics, techniques and procedures as well as U.S. military analyses of enemy capabilities or vulnerabilities; the weaknesses of U.S. equipment, technology and organization; specific exploitation tactics, techniques and procedures; and information about vehicles or equipment damaged by an IED or IED components.

Steven Aftergood, who directs the Federation of American Scientists' Project on Government Secrecy, said the Pentagon may have legitimate grounds for withholding IED-related information to protect forces.

“However, you cannot do that without paying a price,” Aftergood said. “And the price you pay is to exclude the participation of uncleared personnel in industry and academia who may have something valuable to offer in meeting this threat.”
Link Posted: 3/12/2006 11:29:27 PM EDT

Originally Posted By SJSAMPLE:

Originally Posted By FunYun1983:
So my arm chair commando ass was trained for free by the video game industry, and the Army is taking avantage of this. I like this idea.



And people bitch about UCAVs and the "Fighter Mafia".
Just wait till the "Grunt Mafia" gets ahold of this.
Of course, grunts - doing most of the fighting and dieing - will probably overlook the romanticism and give a big "Fuck Yeah!!!".



This is different - it's not a robo-turret... It's not an 'Army UCGV'

CROWS replaces ring and pintle gun mounts, allowing the gunner to sit in the vehicle instead of get up in the hatch and manually operate the gun...

Basically, it allows the defensive machineguns on ground vehicles to be operated in a manner similar to the main gun on a Bradley or Abrams - the gunner sits inside & fights by video screen, instead of popping out of the vehicle to sight manually.... He also gets power-traverse, so there's no need to muscle the gun around to track targets & control recoil... Just move the joystick....

Link Posted: 3/12/2006 11:34:14 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/12/2006 11:36:07 PM EDT by Spade]
Can this be used off Hummers? Like for base/building defense and the such?


Remotely operated turrest, UCAVS, real time maps. What a war.

All we need is mechs and personal milimeter wave radar and the like from Snow Crash.
Link Posted: 3/12/2006 11:34:58 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Armed_Scientist:

Originally Posted By mort:
I love how something that should be at most $5000-10000 is the price of a house.

The military should go find about 5 engineering students and get them to make a cheaper version that is easy to massproduce. After the students finish that project (should only take 3-4 weeks) then they can make a vehicle mounted antipersonel weapon thats basically a claymore that can be mounted on the humvee.

Sometimes weapons manufacturers really suck ass.



Big +1,

Lets see here, NVG, High-Res CCD, motion control servos, and a TFT LCD screen....not seeing how that adds up to the price of a Ferrari. Stabilization, mounting hardware to fit every possible vehicular gun-mount (including the Abrams, for the Commander's 50cal, eventually), and (if they did a direct copy from that POS Stryker system) it telescopes to allow shooting at close in targets).... There's alot of things they could be putting into this thing...

As per your anti personel weapon idea they have something like that for tanks (or at least it was in development). It's a grenade that is fired straight up then explodes with a hail of flechetes that surround the tank taking care of any unarmored hajis trying to stick an IED to an abrams. Abrams smoke-dispensors are 40mm grenade projectors... Hmmm

Link Posted: 3/12/2006 11:39:07 PM EDT

Originally Posted By JackBurton:
CROWS = Another well intentioned but impractical solution to guys getting hurt and dying... just like the Michilin Man suit they tried to field last year... There is no substitute for human reflexes and sensory perception, i.e. split second decision making using eyes and ears, quick response, and reflexive shooting. Gunners are the eyes, ears, mouths, and teeth (i.e. shooting and killing threats) of the convoy. CROWS eliminates all of that and in my opinion leaves a convoy deaf, dumb, blind, and paralyzed...



That is the other side of it, true...

It's also why alot of tank commanders hate staying buttoned up, why you constantly see 'em sticking out of the hatch... It's a split between getting blown up inside the tank 'cause you didn't see the enemy, and getting shot because you stuck your head up out of the top of a perfectly goood 70 ton mobile bunker....
Link Posted: 3/12/2006 11:57:53 PM EDT

Originally Posted By FightingHellfish:
I've seen a lot of the high tech stuff roll through the NTC.

I had a very elaborate, detailed post but I deleted it after giving it some OPSEC consideration.

I'll just say that Cincinattus is right.

I'll go with the opinions of these fellas.
Link Posted: 3/13/2006 3:43:32 AM EDT
My company doesn't build things that go bang or boom, just beep. But a couple of engineering observations:

1) I didn't notice that the CROWS itself was armored. I wonder how much punishment it can stand before it gets put out of action? They must have thought of that and I don't hear too much about Stryker RWS's going down.

2) One way to go would be to keep the gunner, ring the turret with a few slabs of M1114 windshield and add a motor to muscle the turret around. It can't be any heavier than the current GPK which is muscled around manually with a crank. But I wonder about life-cycle cost, i.e. how many times will you have to/can you replace the shot up transparent armor before it adds up to one CROWS?

aa

P.S. GPK=gunner protection kit
Link Posted: 3/13/2006 5:24:16 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/14/2006 3:11:22 PM EDT by JackBurton]
deleted
Link Posted: 3/13/2006 6:14:42 AM EDT

Originally Posted By mort:
I love how something that should be at most $5000-10000 is the price of a house.

The military should go find about 5 engineering students and get them to make a cheaper version that is easy to massproduce. After the students finish that project (should only take 3-4 weeks) then they can make a vehicle mounted antipersonel weapon thats basically a claymore that can be mounted on the humvee.

Sometimes weapons manufacturers really suck ass.



Usualy system cost includes training and spare parts, but still, the price is always outrageous.

Who doesn't love a .gov contract?

How much does that remote turret mounted on the Tahoe's cost? I think you could get that and and armord Tahoe for about $200k.
Link Posted: 3/13/2006 6:20:47 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/14/2006 3:34:22 PM EDT by bulldog1967]


Are these the copper shaped-charge devices that are making their way over from Iran?
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