Canadian American Strategic Review


DND 101
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DND 101

In Detail



Canadian Forces  Armour  —  Remotely-Controlled Weapon Systems

Vehicle Weapon Systems – Protected, Remote & an Arctic Theme
There are three different types of remotely-control weapons stations in CF service. The first was the Protected Weapons Station (right), a Rafael design built under licence in Canada ( by Oerlikon Contraves, now Rheinmetall Canada). The PWS systems were fitted to re-roled TLAVs and to the LAV III engineering variant. PWS has since been joined by the Kongsberg M151 Protector Remote Weapons Station. The M151 was first adopted for the RG-31 APV – because this RWS was already integrated on that vehicle type. The CF's latest weapons station design is Rheinmetall  Canada's Nanuk. [1] The Canadian-made Nanuk RWS was introduced for LAV TUAs converted to ISCs.

Protected Weapon Station – Diminutive Strongman
PWS is a licenced copy of  Rafael's  Mini-Samson – known in Israel as Katlanit (' Lethal '). In CF service, the PWS  (like other RCWS)  is armed with a 7.62mm C6  GPMG although it can accommodate the 12.7mm M2 heavy machinegun  (and future 40mm AGL). [2] PWS remote controls consist of  joystick and colour monitor ( right ) nestled within the protection of  the armour hull as the name suggests. When required, a PWS gunner can disengage the remote controls and operate the weapon by hand. In such situations, a gunner is completely exposed to hostile fire.

Protected Weapon Station  becomes  AN/MWG 505 RWS
At some later point, DND redesignated the PWS under the new classification of AN/MWG 505 RWS. This 'AN/' prefix makes it look like a US DOD designation...but it's not. Why DND felt compelled to change the PWS' designation is not clear but it has caused confusion. A March 2014  'Repair & Overhaul/Upgrade' LOI/RFI for the TLAV left the potential suppliers mystified. Only in the Q&A did DND finally make clear that their AN/MWG 505 RWS and  the PWS were one and  the same. [3]  Small wonder then that  DND seems to have lost track of  Rafael's support system.

"Norwegian Blue?" – Kongsberg Remote Weapons Station
The M151 Protector RWS is well  known from its use on the US  M1126 Stryker ICV.  The M151 was chosen for the CF's Armoured Patrol Vehicle largely because Kongsberg's RWS was already integrated onto  RG-31  blast-resistant vehicles. Obviously, as an Immediate Operational Requirement, APVs and their RWS were first into combat. As usual, operational use revealed issues with the RWS as applied to the APVs – one was emitted  light  (from the RWS' monitor through the APV's side windows at night), the other was that  the RWS on the APV was equipped for but not with a stablizer. No doubt future RWS will have the stablizers.

All  Polar Bears Have a Bite –  the Nanuk Weapons Station
The Nanuk weapon station was purchased for 33 LAV TUA vehicles re-roled as LAV-RWS Infantry Section Carriers. The Nanuk is a Canadian design distinct  from other  Rheinmetall RCWS models. Nanuk resembles its PWS predecessor  in its general arrangement but the newer RCWS is much lower and has  8 x Wegmann 76mm grenade launchers ( like the M151 ). The Nanuk has an advanced surveillance and tracking suite, said to be capable of  providing clear views of  targets 10 km away day or night. The standard armament for the CF Nanuk RCWS is the 7.62mm C6 but, rather unusually, the 5.56mm C9 LMG is also listed as an option. [4] Nanuk was designed to accommodate the 40mm HK GMG, base weapon for the new C16 CASW. [5]

[1] Rheinmetall considers Nanuk to be a "medium weight" RCWS.  Rheinmetall Canada markets the Amarok in the lighter weight category.

[2] Adoption of a CF vehicle-mounted 40mm automatic grenade launcher was delayed by the Close Area Suppression Weapon contest. DND's CASW (now the C16) clumped a ground mount assembly, fire control system, and thermal sight into one overly complex system.

[3] W8486-120234/A was titled  'Repair & Overhaul/Upgrade of Remote Weapon System (RWS) ' allowing confusion with the M151 RWS.

[4] In Maple Leaf, Program Manager for Nanuk, Guy Laliberté, claims that crews are "... able to change the weapon from, for example, a C7 to a .50 cal in a matter of seconds". Mention of the C7 rifle was almost certainly in error, meant to refer instead to the C9 light machinegun.

[5] Technically, DND's plan to buy vehicle-mounted automatic grenade launchers is separate from CASW. CASW's 40mm GMG has been available since the mid-'90s.  It remains a mystery why DND planners were allowed to pursue the over-elaborated CASW first. Along with programmable munitions, CASW requires a complex fire control system. Any RWS-mounted AGLs already have sighting systems laid on.

Photos – PWS/RWS: Stephen Priestley, top right: Trevor Reid, lower left: Rheinmetall, PWS station: DEW Engineering, others: DND/CF