Rune Johansson of Kongsberg Defence Systems considers the company’s participation in the 2013 Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting and Exposition a natural part of the continuum of a relationship more than a hundred years old.
In 1890, Johansson said, the Norwegian defense firm entered a rifle into a U.S. competition – and won. The piece became commonly known as the Springfield rifle in the United States, and served as the Army’s main infantry weapon during the Spanish-American War.
Today, Johansson said, Kongsberg’s presence is even greater – if not readily recognized. Its M153 Common Remotely Operated Weapons Station (CROWS) is mounted on Humvees, M-1 Abrams tanks, and other combat vehicles across the inventory. Johansson outlined the advantages CROWS offers – ability to fire on the move day or night, with enough accuracy to turn its .50-caliber machine gun into a sniper weapon.
“It puts the soldier under armor, controlling the weapon from within the vehicle,” Johansson said.
Stryker wheeled fighting vehicles have carried a similar package, the M151 Remote Weapons System (RWS), since 2001, Johansson said. More than 2,700 Strykers are equipped with them.
Kongsberg’s less commonly known Norwegian Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS) “is protecting the airspace we are in right now, and has been since the 2004 inauguration of President [George W.] Bush,” Johansson said. The Army owns the air-defense system assets, which are operated by the Army National Guard to monitor the skies over the Washington, D.C., area.
“Based on the success we’ve had, we continue improving, making new variants, displaying, and showcasing them to Army customers,” Johansson said. “When we want them to see new products, this the AUSA annual meeting] is the place to be.”
He particularly relished the chance to talk to soldiers who have used Kongsberg systems.
“People tell me how they fight with the weapons systems. I learn a lot from feedback. We take it seriously and try to improve the product,” Johansson said.
During the Annual Meeting, Johansson said, Kongsberg representatives also were able to meet with everyone in the Army who is involved with vehicle procurement.
“It is valuable to be able to touch this many people,” Johansson said.
Kongsberg particularly directed efforts at the show to encourage the Army to procure its Protector MCT-30 system – which Johansson described as a more robust and powerful version of the RWS. It can hold a 30mm cannon, mounted to turrets of wheeled or tracked armored vehicles, and can be fitted with a co-axial machine gun, blue force tracker, active protection systems, and a commanders’ independent remote weapon station, according to company literature.
“We’ve fired more than 5,000 rounds in live-fire tests,” Johansson said.
The Army will get its first good look at Protector MCT-30 capability during a live-fire test at Fort Benning, Ga., in February, Johansson said.