Stationary Protection: Unmanned Watchtower with a Remotely Operated Weapon Station and Electro-Optical Equipment

Stationary Protection: Unmanned Watchtower with a Remotely Operated Weapon Station and Electro-Optical Equipment


The Military Camp
At foreign missions in the military area, there is often no infrastructure that will meet the needs of troops.  In Afghanistan, the military camps of the “International Assistance Force” (ISAF) form the infrastructural backbone and the logistical hub.  It acts as an alarm and withdrawal base for rapid deployment, material depot, area hospital, military control center and also act as a rest and regeneration place for the away from home operating forces.  Without this fixed infrastructure, the multinational ISAF would not be in a position to do operations in range of all intensity levels.

Military camp protection has been an issue since the Roman era.  In the 1970s, the Vietnam War showed how much camps were at risk, especially in a jungle environment.  Besides direct assaults with infantry, the camps were submitted to daily mortar shelling, a threat that remains unchanged today, with the addition of direct sniper fire.  Surveillance, physical protection and effectors capable of neutralising the threat are the main elements required to protect a camp.

Here with the .50 cal M2HB with BFA – Blank Firing Attachment. (Courtesy of Rune Johannessen, Vice President, Business Development, the Americas Kongsberg Protech Systems USA)

Expertise from Norway
Numerous incidents in recent years have made it clear that bases and objects of the armed forces in the areas of application are vulnerable.  The number of recent incidents has clearly demonstrated security vulnerabilities.  Kongsberg offers a unique solution for the protection of deployed personnel.  Kongsberg has developed a weapon station named Containerized Weapon Station (CWS) for stationary use next to military camps, military bases, outposts, airbases, port facilities, or similar facilities.  This system is based on the widespread and standardized remote controlled weapon station, named Protector (or CROWS “Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station,” for the U.S. armed forces) and used in a variety of military vehicles.  With more than 16,000 systems sold worldwide, more than 25 million hours of operation and over 15 million hours in combat. The Protector has been selected or is already in service by 17 nations.

Kongsberg has developed a Containerized Weapon Station (CWS) that is specifically designed to protect military bases and outposts.  With this concept, CWS, the Protector system is used in an important new way.

Camp Marmal (CM) is the largest base of the Bundeswehr outside of Germany. It is located in proximity to Mazar-e Sharif, Afghanistan. The photo shows the Norwegian section of the camp. (Erebino)

Unmanned Sentry with Remote Controlled Containerized Weapon Station
The CWS has cameras that give a full 360 degrees view, and can see through the darkness.  Equipped with non-lethal weapons it can stop suspicious vehicles at a safe distance or deliver a hail of deadly standard rounds if necessary.  The time where soldiers must stand guard tower duty may soon be over.

One of the major challenges for the allied forces in Afghanistan is that they use a lot of personnel to secure their own bases.  In the major camps there are often hundreds of soldiers who have these guard duties as their only task.  This weapon system can reduce the number of troops while increasing safety and protection of the soldiers.

The graphic shows how the weapon stations can be set in the corners of an outpost to provide 360-degree protection. (Illustration: Kongsberg Protech Systems)

The CWS consists of a weapon station that is located on a mast lowered in a protective container.  The CWS can be used with the entire spectrum of Protector weapon station systems with weapons from 7.62mm MG, 12.7mm Browning M2 to 40mm Automatic Grenade Launchers.  From the outside it does not differ in appearance from all the other shipping containers outside the military base.  But appearances are deceptive.  With the push of a button, the roof opens and a weapons station rises several feet in the air.  With this concept, the weapons station is used in a new way.

What is new is that the CWS is controlled via fiber optics – making the user located in a protected position up to several kilometers away and able to control the weapon station.  This provides capabilities to monitor, engage and combat potential threats from a protected position.  Since the soldier himself is not in danger, he can take the time to properly identify targets.  Outside the camp fence, the situation is often unclear with civilians who live and work in the area.  With its advanced optics it is possible to see the difference between a tool and a weapon at distances hundreds of yards away.  This would be impossible with the naked eye.

For guarding the camp the Kongsberg Protech Systems engineers have developed a concept for mobile watchtowers in containers. With the push of a button, the roof opens and the weapon station rises several feet in the air. Here with 7.62mm MG. (Courtesy of Rune Johannessen, Vice President, Business Development, the Americas Kongsberg Protech Systems USA)

The system is self-powered, either in the form of an aggregate unit or solar panels.  The control unit is small enough to fit into a suitcase and control the weapons station that can be armed with everything from light machine guns to automatic grenade launchers and Javelin missiles.  However, lethal force is not the only available remedy.  The weapon station can be equipped with lasers or bright lights that temporarily blind people.  Other non-lethal weapons are acoustic or flash-bang grenades.  In this way, the CWS can also be used to guard embassies, quay structures or placed onboard cargo ships.

More weapons stations can be set up in the corners of a base and thus provide area control in all directions.  The sensors can help detect and defeat threats at long range.  The development of CWS was very fast as it took only eleven months until the prototype was finished.