'Interim' firepower on the way for Marine Osprey

BAE Systems to deliver remotely operated, 360-degree, belly gun for V-22.

BAE

The Marine Corps may have found an "interim" solution to the one of the V-22 tilt-rotor Osprey's many operational quandaries: How to shoot back.

This August, the Marines are expected to take delivery of BAE's (British Aerospace and Marconi Electronic Systems) Remote Guardian System, a GAU-17 7.62-millimeter, mini-gun-equipped, remotely operated weapon that swivels to squirt out 360 degrees of accurate, sustained, suppressive fire "throughout the aircraft's entire flight envelope," according to BAE. This would be a vast improvement over the aircraft's current protection, an M240D 7.62-millimeter gun manned by a crew member hanging on the open rear ramp. But it's a pea shooter compared to the once-contemplated three-barrel, GAU-19 Gatling gun, capable of spraying .50 cals at up to 2,000 armor-piercing rounds per minute (PDF).

BAE

The RGS is belly-mounted in a retractable turret, which conserves cabin space and payload capacity. Because it receives input from the aircraft's vehicle management system and continuously computes the impact point, the gunner simply points and shoots, while a computer continually adjusts for wind and vehicle motion.

How quickly the RGS follows the Osprey into the combat zone will depend on how much testing the Marine Corp ends up doing before it commits. BAE tested the system off the back of a Humvee, and it worked for them--twice.

About the author

    The military establishment's ever increasing reliance on technology and whiz-bang gadgetry impacts us as consumers, investors, taxpayers and ultimately as the defended. Our mission here is to bring some of these products and concepts to your attention based on carefully selected criteria such as importance to national security, originality, collateral damage to the treasury and adaptability to yard maintenance-but not necessarily in that order. E-mail him at markr@milapp.com. Disclosure.

     

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