Guard Duty is one of the most unpleasant aspects of military life. It takes four to six soldiers standing for up to 12 hours to man a single perimeter weapons system 24/7. To remove this redundancy & the expenditure it costs, the US Army is testing the, Tower Hawk System, a tower-mounted, Remote Controlled Weapon for perimeter security.
The new system is part of a bigger initiative named Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) 16.1, being conducted at Fort Bliss, Texas. 9,000 troops from the US Army and a 14-member coalition from NATO nations are present at the base to observe & inspect the weapons for their own military requirements.
The new tower set replaces old guard towers with unmanned towers quipped with a Browning M-2 50 Caliber Machine Gun & a .338 Lapua Sniper Rifle protruding out at the edge of a razor-sharp wire. The system is designed to be shipped in containers that can be quickly erected in less than an hour. The soldiers operating the system require minimal training to take care of the task.
The guns can be replaced with any other rifle or machine gun with ease. The soldiers controlling the guns sit inside Base Tactical Operations, observing a live feed of the outside perimeter taken from the Visual, Thermal and Infrared Cameras mounted on the tower. The operators use Xbox One type handheld controls to rotate the weapon & even fire on enemies.
A Joint All Hazard Command Control System Software is used to distinguish the people outside as friends or foes, to prevent friendly fire. The software is designed to track their movement & observe if there is a need for intervention with force. These automated guard towers can cut down the personnel requirement on army bases by almost five times.
Tower Hawk is one of a number of technologies under evaluation at NIE, including 11 new energy systems designed to reduce fuel and water consumption. These systems are being tested to make the living & working conditions at forward bases, a whole lot easier than before.