It usually requires six soldiers across 8 or 12-hour shifts to man a single perimeter weapon station. But machines are soon going to replace soldiers in guarding a perimeter. The U.S. Army is currently testing an unmanned, remote-controlled Tower Hawk System that uses tower-mounted weapons for base perimeter security. The testing began on Sept.25 and goes on through Oct.8 at an expeditionary base camp in Fort Bliss, Texas.

U.S. Army Testing New Remote-Controlled Tower Hawk System

What is NIE?

The U.S. Army said in a press release that the tests are part of the Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) 16.1. NIE is where a 14-member coalition of most NATO countries evaluate new and emerging network solutions to make the forward base more efficient. The Tower Hawk System aims to replace the traditional guard towers with unmanned, gun-toting towers.

Capt. Robert Scott of the ?142nd Combat Service Support Battalion said it was like a “containerized weapons systems.” It takes a group of six soldiers to erect the tower in as little as one hour with minimal training. In the ongoing testing, the towers are equipped with a 0.338 Lapua sniper rifle and a Browning M-2 50-caliber machine gun. With the new Tower Hawk Systems, it would only take two soldiers to man the station, freeing up others for more important duties.

Tower Hawk can differentiate between friend and foe

The system is operated by two individuals sitting inside a remote tactical center. Large screens in the tactical operations center provide normal, thermal, and infrared vision to monitor outside the perimeter. The two operators use Xbox-like handheld devices that can lower, raise, and rotate the weapons by 360 degrees and fire them remotely.

The Tower Hawk Systems rely on Joint All Hazard Command Control System software that can differentiate between a friend and a foe. It allows two operators to do the work of up to 10 individuals. If the Tower Hawk System is used at a remote location, it can easily be disassembled and moved in a container to another location when necessary.