The M153 Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station (CROWS) is a stabilized mount that contains a sensor suite and fire control software. It allows on-the-move target acquisition and first-burst target engagement. Capable of target engagement under day and night conditions, the CROWS sensor suite includes a daytime video camera, thermal camera and laser rangefinder. CROWS supports the MK19 Grenade Machine Gun, M2 .50 Caliber Machine Gun, M240B Machine Gun and M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW). The system has been integrated onto more than twenty platforms, from the HMMWV to the M1 Abrams tank.
The M153 CROWS also features programmable target reference points for multiple locations, programmable sector surveillance scanning, automatic target ballistic
lead, automatic target tracking and programmable no-fire zones.
Among newer CROWS applications are fixed-site installations that allow Soldiers to better monitor areas and target threats remotely from inside a protected structure. Fielding teams have installed systems to strengthen force protection at various combat outposts and forward operating bases throughout Afghanistan.
In 2013, the Rapid Equipping Force responded to an urgent requirement for a CROWS Containerized Weapon System (CWS) that increases options for integrated base defense. When transported by helicopter or trailer a CWS provides the ability to place a fully functioning CROWS system in difficult to reach and remote locations.
Potential enhancements include integration of other weapons, escalation-of-force systems, sniper detection, integrated 360-degree situational awareness, increased weapon elevation, Javelin integration and commander’s display.