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thousands of vehicles with crows

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    The U.S. Army plans to outfit thousands more vehicles with Common Remotely Operated Weapon Stations (CROWS), which allow gunners to fire on targets from the safety of armored crew compartments.
    In August, Army officials intend to choose one firm from among several competitors to receive a contract for 1,500 CROWS stations. In total, the contract could grow to as many as 6,500 CROWS, Army officials said.
    “The Army is looking at the CROWS system for the up-armored Humvee, Fox [reconnaissance vehicle], RG-31 [Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles] and the Abrams [tank], so right now the Army is trying to finalize the basis of issue regarding how many CROWS to order and who gets them,” said Richard Audette, deputy project manager for soldier weapons at the Army’s Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey.
    The two-axis-stabilized turret is getting rave reviews from troops, Audette said.
    Right now, there are roughly 243 CROWS in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. Army Col. Carl Lipsit, project manager soldier weapons at Picatinny Arsenal said in June.
    Remote weapon-firing capability is a requirement for new Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, so more CROWS could wind up being added to expected orders, Audette said.
    “Remote weapon stations is a growing industry, if you would, because there are things like MRAP vehicles and other mine-resistant vehicles,” Lipsit said. “The goodness of keeping everybody inside that specialty vehicle under armored protection is a valuable thing. CROWS does that for you, keeps people inside. Yet you are still engaged and can still see day and night. With the zoom capability, you can fire all the weapons.”
    One weapon that may go on some of the CROWS stations is ATK’s new high-speed Lightweight 25mm (LW25) Bushmaster chain-gun, which can fire up to seven times as many rounds between jams as the ubiquitous .50-caliber machine gun, ATK officials say. The company developed the gun to fire various heavy rounds that can do the jobs of the .50-caliber and the 40mm grenade launcher.
    The Army intends to test-fire the LW25 from an MRAP vehicle in the coming weeks.
    “A gun that would be adaptable to CROWS, whatever that might be, would be a great boon because the CROWS system is going on a variety of different vehicles,” Audette said.
    The 63-pound LW25 has two ammo feeds so the gunner can choose, for example, between high-explosive rounds and less-than-lethal ones with the flick of a switch.
    “The current legacy guns — the Mk 19 grenade launcher and M2 .50-caliber machine gun — shoot less than 500 mean rounds between stoppages,” said Mark Coppens, ATK’s senior manager of business development. “The LW25 shoots in excess of 35,000 rounds and you don’t have the same problem with jamming.”
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