The Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station program, (CROWS or CROWS II) is a remote-control weapon system that provides the operator with the ability to acquire and engage targets while inside a vehicle, protected by its armor. It is designed to mount on a variety of vehicle platforms and supports the MK19 Grenade Machine Gun, .50 Caliber M2 Machine Gun, M240B Machine Gun, and M249 Squad Automatic Weapon.
The CROWS is composed of two parts: the mount which is fixed to the exterior of the vehicle and the control group. The mount is capable of 360 degree azimuth rotation and -20 to +60 degree elevation. It accepts a variety of crew-served weapons, including the M2 .50-cal Machine Gun, the Mk19 40-mm Automatic Grenade Machine Gun, the M240B 7.62 mm Machine Gun and M249 Squad Automatic Weapon. The sensor unit includes a daylight video camera, a thermal imager for night operations and an eye-safe laser rangefinder. It is also furnished with a fully integrated fire control system that provides ballistic correction. The weight of the weapon station varies accordingly due to different armament modules: 74 kg (163 lb) light, 135 kg (298 lb) standard (including the naval version), and 172 kg (379 lb) for CROWS II.
The CROWS control group mounts inside the vehicle (behind the driver's seat on the HMMWV). It includes a display, switches and joystick to provide full remote control of the weapon system. This enables the fighting crew to operate from inside armored combat vehicles, while still carrying out patrols, acquiring targets, and firing a variety of weapons more efficiently.
The first RAVEN units as part of the first CROWS contract were fielded in 2004 in Iraq, employed by special forces, military police, infantry and transport units. So far, more than 200 units have been fielded.
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