Company insight

Modular and flexible remote weapons systems

Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace is a leading supplier of defence products and systems for command and control, surveillance, space, tactical communications and remote weapons operations. Andrew Walker, business development manager, talks about the company’s remote turrets and stations, including the Protector range.

Why was the first integration of the Protector RT60 remote turret on the Boxer AFV an important achievement for Kongsberg? Andrew Walker: Kongsberg has been developing remote-controlled weapons systems for over 20 years, with more than 20,000 Protectors sold to 26 countries, integrated on more than 80 land and maritime platforms. Part of the Protector’s success has been its constant system innovation and development, which has ensured that all remote turrets and remote stations can be integrated across as wide a range of platforms as possible. With the RT60, the latest product in the Protector range, Kongsberg was excited to work alongside KMW to quickly and simply integrate one of the most advanced remote turrets in the world onto the Boxer, one of the most modern armoured fighting vehicles available.

What are the benefits of integrating Protector remote weapon stations? Protector remote weapon stations are excellent day and night observation platforms, combining advanced sensors

with modern weapons and providing superior accuracy over a manned system. This results in improved target acquisition, identification and engagement accuracy, lower ammunition use and reduced risk of collateral damage. Remote control means the crew are secured in their seats within the platform, which offers protection from snipers and IEDs and increases survivability if the vehicle were to roll. The fire control system that ties all the subsystems together remains the same, so operators only need to learn one Protector user interface, which is repeated across all configurations. The Protector is ready and can be deployed on unmanned operations.

Kongsberg's Protector RT60 integrated on the Boxer. 44

What advantages are offered by a remote turret over a manned turret? Remote turrets will rapidly replace crewed turrets and are advantageous for numerous reasons. They have a lower overall weight and contribute to a lower platform centre of gravity. The crew is less exposed to enemy fire and benefit from hull protection. With no basket protruding in the crew compartment, egress is easier, allowing the driver to exit via the rear of the vehicle in an emergency. Cannon ammunition stowage is isolated from the crew compartment, avoiding casualties in case of deflagration and inhibiting cannon gases from entering the crew compartment. Remote turrets are less costly to acquire, maintain, repair and upgrade and, in the case of the Protector RT series, are designed with future unmanned operations in mind.

What are the different systems in the Protector RT family? Kongsberg has three Protector RTs – the RT20, RT40 and RT60 – which are all modular in concept. Each turret can be adapted in a number of ways: for example, by adding a single or dual-user control system, different primary weapons systems and sensors, secondary weapons systems, armour and additional capabilities. Where weight is a constraint, the RT20 is the smallest and lightest of the range. Starting at 1,250kg, it has been deployed on US Marine Corps amphibious combat vehicles and advanced reconnaissance vehicles. The RT40, deployed on US Army Stryker Dragoon, has a starting weight of 2,400kg, with increased level 2–3 armour. The RT60, with a starting weight of 3,500kg, has level 3–4 armour, an independent RS4 weapon station and a dual, integrated twin anti-tank guided weapon system that can fire Javelin, Spike and MMP.

How do you see remote weapon systems developing in the future? Kongsberg has first-hand experience of the trend towards reduced manning, through its support for the US Army’s RCV-L and RCV-M projects. Remote operation is enhanced by multi-user and multi-station architectures, with a requirement to rapidly integrate new sensors and effectors – Kongsberg is already fielding this development. These networked capabilities will integrate AI to increase the speed of military action – from automated target detection, recognition and acquisition, to deliberate action. The commonality of subsystems will reduce the cost and logistics burden, while simplifying operations and enabling further automation. ● Defence & Security Systems International /

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