Four organizations came together to combine two emerging technologies in a perimeter security assessment test conducted Nov. 29 and 30 at Fort Leonard Wood.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Engineer Research and Development Center out of Vicksburg, Mississippi, joined with the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center out of Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey, the Nebraska National Guard and Fort Leonard Wood's own 50th Multi-Role Bridge Company, 5th Engineer Battalion, to integrate a guard tower with an unmanned weapons system to test capabilities and functionality.
Ben Jones, a research mechanical engineer with the Geotechnical and Structures Laboratory, ERDC, said the test was a good way to ensure the Modular Protective System Multipurpose Guard Tower could handle the stress of a .50 caliber machine gun firing more than 2,000 rounds.
Jones added the tower was designed to handle the recoil, but it hasn't been tested like this before.
From the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center standpoint, testing their Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station on this particular platform was the main reason for their involvement.
"At the end of the day, the hope is the CROWS system and the Modular Protective System Multipurpose Guard Tower can work together," said Capt. Darien Butler, assistant project manager, ARDEC.
Overall, the merging of these two technologies helps to take more Soldiers out of harm's way, according to Mark Bertoni, base camp project coordinator, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command Capabilities Manager - Maneuver Support, Fort Leonard Wood.
"It's important to have this capability in the Army to keep Soldiers away from the guard tower so you have perimeter protection without a Soldier in the tower," he said.
For it being the first test between these two systems, Bertoni said it went well.
Bertoni said there were some adjustments needed, because of the recoil of the machine gun, but overall "the CROWS personnel were happy, and the ERDC folks were very pleased with it as well."
In addition to testing the capabilities of the two systems, ERDC wanted to test the maneuverability and ease of construction of the MPS tower.
The 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment, Nebraska National Guard, helped test the ease of transport by sling-loading the MPS on a CH-47D Chinook helicopter from where the tower is located on Fort Leonard Wood out to the firing ranges. The 50th MRBC Soldiers were on hand at each location to take down and re-assemble the tower.
"This guard tower comes self contained in a Quad-Con (container), and weighs 7,500 pounds," Jones said. "Everything is man-portable with non-MOS specific construction and can be assembled in less than 90 minutes."
Sgt. Sony Salinas, team leader, 50th MRBC, said the opportunity to take the tower apart for transport made it easier to assemble at the range and again back at the training area.
As a functional guard tower, some of the Soldiers had great things to say, others had some suggestions for improvements.
"We have the Soldiers here having done all of the construction, and they are showing us things we need to improve, with the manual and any problems we have," Jones said. "As far as construction, they tend to like it, because they are not shoveling sand bags."