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Army puts tech-centric weapons and surveillance tools to the test

March 12, 2015

Soldiers demonstrate the TowerHawk weapon and surveillance system

The Army recently displayed three defensive weapons technologies developed by thee Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center technologies during an Army Expeditionary Warfighter Experiment on Fort Benning, Ga.

The TowerHawk weapons system provides for base or compound surveillance. It is transportable and can be employed either as a stand-alone platform or as an integrated piece of the Combat Outpost’s Force Protection network. Additionally, it can provide for precise lethal response to threats.

The combined weapon and surveillance system features both a .338 Lapua Magnum semi-automatic rifle equipped with either a 10- or 35-round magazine for the weapon component with a laser range finder pointer and an electro-optical/infrared sensor ball capable of day or night surveillance.

To safeguard against unnecessary casualties, the system is operated remotely by a human with secure fiber optic communications. The weapons portion has an effective range of more than 1,200 meters.

The slightly more advanced and more heavily armed Containerized Weapon System has been described as both a “weapons system in a box” and an supplement or replacement for guard towers. Outfitted with an M2 .50 caliber machine gun, an MK19 Grenade machine gun, M240B machine gun, an M249 SAW and Javelin Missile, the CWS is housed and transported in a container express for easy deployment. The CWS also includes a laser range-finding sensor, color day camera, a night/thermal camera and sniper protection.

The third piece of equipment featured was the Maneuver Aviation Fires Integrated Application, a software system that enables field artillery members to call for precise coordinates for accurate, timely, and predictable fires support. In a highly advanced cooperative platform, full motion video provided from small UAV’s is accessed by squad level operators to assist with accurate targeting. The hardware-independent system also provides for easy upgrades and adjustments.

“The Maneuver Aviation Fires Integrated Application, or MAFIA, is revolutionizing the way small units call for indirect fire,” according to an Army release. "It is a fire support application that allows fire supporters at the company level, or maneuver unit small leaders to accurately locate a target and to then engage that target with indirect fire, close air support or attack aviation," said Michael V. Murray, government lead and training coordinator, Battlefield Operations Software Suite team.

Following the tests of these three systems, the Army Test and Evaluation Center will publish a final report based on analysis of the tests. The report is aimed to assist Training and Doctrine Command develop new technologies.