The U.S. Army has acquired a number of shipping containers that have been converted to remote weapons stations. Each container hides a machine gun, grenade launcher, or even an anti-tank weapon, and can detect and respond to enemy fire. According to Defense News, the Army is showing the system off at the Association of the U.S. Army Symposium and Exhibition in Huntsville, Alabama.
Made by Norwegian defense contractor Kongsberg and security contractor HDT Global, the Containerized Weapon System (CWS) is made from a 20-foot-long Tricon shipping container. The roof is replaced with a hinged door system, and an electro-mechanical lift is installed inside. The lift can go from hidden to a height of 15 feet in just 30 seconds. It can support and power weapon systems including the M2 .50 caliber machine gun, Mk.19 grenade launcher, M134 Dillon 7.62-millimeter minigun, and the M249 squad automatic weapon. The lift can even support the Javelin anti-tank missile.
The system is designed for quick deployment and setup on the battlefield. The use of a shipping container for a hull makes it easier to transport, and the weapons station can be set up in less than an hour by two soldiers. CWS can be internally or externally powered, and can use solar panels to provide power. Its makers envision the deadly shipping container being deployed to distant combat outposts, patrol bases, and forward operating bases, providing a defensive firepower boost that needs little or no infrastructure support. CWS could even be used on ships at sea as a defense against pirates and other threats.
The system is not autonomous—everything is controlled by a remote operator who can be stationed as far as 1,093 feet away to avoid enemy fire. So a human being still makes the decision to use lethal force. That’s good, but having the operator located a thousand feet from the weapon can make it hard to figure out where enemy fire is coming from. To remedy that, the Army is pairing the CWS with the Firefly 360 threat detection system. Firefly 360 uses acoustics and shortwave infrared sensors to detect enemy fire— differentiating between small arms fire, machine guns, rockets and mortars—and locate the source.
The Army has already deployed CWS and Firefly 360 to Afghanistan, and according to Defense News will soon begin deploying the system to other locations overseas. Here’s a video of the Containerized Weapon System shot last year at the Army’s Network Integration Evaluation exercise at Fort Bliss, Texas.