Gen. Dennis Via, commanding general of the U.S. Army Materiel Command, views the TowerHawk system at the Army Innovation Summit in Williamsburg, Virginia, Aug. 17, 2016.

TowerHawk exhibited at Army Innovation Summit

A remote engagement weapons system was one of the technologies on exhibit during the Army’s third Innovation Summit at the College of William and Mary Aug. 16–17.

The U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center designed and developed the system, known as TowerHawk.

The event brought together more than 250 leaders from industry, academia, Department of Defense and Army to explore processes to achieve innovation, expand collaboration efforts and refine the innovation initiatives developed at the first two Army Innovation Summits.

TowerHawk is a transportable, modular remote weapon system. Soldiers can employ it as an integrated capability of the Combat Outpost’s Force Protection network or as a stand-alone capability, said Stephen W. Stilwell Jr., project engineer, Aviation Development Directorate, Engagement and Effects Tech Area. In either configuration, TowerHawk provides surveillance, enhanced perimeter defense and an extended range of precise lethal response.

“[U.S. Central Command] requested a quick response in a forward operating base setup. There were threats that were visible but the reaction time was very slow. So the existing technology was adapted from aviation to a ground use and put on a tower,” Stilwell said.

TowerHawk combines a modular remote weapon system consisting of a highly accurate .338 Lapua Magnum semi-auto rifle equipped with a 10 or 35 round magazine, day and night optics, laser rangefinder/pointer and an electro-optical/infrared sensor ball.

The operator controls the system remotely using secure fiber optic communications between the weapon and the ground station enabling the system to engage man-sized targets at ranges greater than 1,200 meters with a reduction in civilian casualties and collateral damage.

“One of the things that made TowerHawk a success was that we didn’t try to create everything from scratch,” Stilwell said. “We used fielded equipment from Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center and Navy programs. Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center assisted us with our fire control. We use a university affiliated research center as our prime contractor. This allows us to take an agile approach to technology insertion.”

“This is all about AMRDEC innovation in motion,” AMRDEC Director James Lackey said. “Value for the warfighter by affordably integrating proven technologies and rapidly pushing out useful prototypes into the hands of our Soldiers. This flexible capability will enhance force protection under many different scenarios.”

“We are leveraging the TowerHawk technology for a Remote Door Gunner program currently focused on utility and cargo helicopters as well as being an enabling technology for future vertical lift,” said Tom Bernal, mechanical engineer, ADD, Engagement and Effects Tech Area.

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The U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to ensure decisive overmatch for unified land operations to empower the Army, the joint warfighter and our nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.

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