PM Soldier Maneuver Sensors conducts FWS-CS Early User Assessment

FWS-CS-EUAFORT BELVOIR, Va. (May 14, 2015) – PEO Soldier’s Product Manager Soldier Maneuver Sensors (PM SMS) in conjunction with the Maneuver Battle Lab (MBL), conducted an Early User Assessment (EUA) for the Family of Weapon Sights-Crew Served (FWS-CS) program April 20 through May 8 at Fort Benning, Ga.

The FWS-CS is a weapon-mounted long-wave infrared sensor. It provides imagery, including a reticle bore-sighted to the host weapon—M2 .50-Caliber Machine Gun, MK19 Grenade Machine Gun and M240 Medium Machine Gun—in battlefield conditions, whether day, night or obscured.

FWS-CS will operate as the primary sight. It includes a wireless helmet-mounted display (HMD) which provides the Soldier with an adjusted reticle based on laser range finder information. Enhanced Target Engagement will provide a significant advantage for Soldiers. This advanced technology enables Soldiers to acquire and engage targets much more rapidly while providing increased accuracy resulting in first-burst impacts on target. This capability ensures Soldiers are equipped with the best sensors and targeting devices to dominate the battlefield through lethality and situational awareness in all operational environments.

During the user tests, Soldiers from Fort Benning’s 3rd Squadron, 16th Cavalry Regiment, successfully fired all current vendor prototypes on all three weapon systems. They acquired and engaged thermal targets at various ranges—400 to 2,200 meters—from static and dynamic positions.

MBL personnel collected first burst hit data and Soldier feedback. Early indications from the EUA were positive, and yielded critically important technical and Soldier feedback in order to ensure Soldier requests for an improved weapon-mounted thermal sight are developed and fielded.

Sgt. Brandon Beck, one of the EUA Soldier evaluators, expressed his appreciation in being able to shape the Army’s future lethality enablers.

“I love the fact that we’re able to actually contribute something directly to how the Army’s going to function in a few years,” Beck said.

Beck emphasized the personal value of thermal weapon sights in his job as a Cavalry Scout.

“We’re the eyes and ears of the battlefield, and thermal optics definitely improve that ability,” Beck said.

“The thermals we’ve been testing have shown great improvements. The image quality is getting better, the zoom quality is getting better, the sizes are getting smaller and the weight is decreasing, so we’re going in the right direction,” the Scout added.

The EUA supports the PM SMS responsibility of proving Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 6 before the system can progress to the Engineering and Manufacturing (EMD) Phase. TRL 6 means the PM has successfully demonstrated a prototype of the system in an operationally relevant environment. The decision to move into EMD is scheduled to occur between January and March 2016. After EMD, the system enters the Production and Deployment Phase. That’s where Soldiers start receiving the FWS-CS and get new equipment training.

PM SMS is a product management office within Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier. The latter provides Soldiers with capabilities, equipment and new equipment training to ensure they remain decisive and dominant throughout the full spectrum of military operations.

About Debra Dawson