The Army has awarded Norway’s Kongsberg a new five-year deal worth up to $1.5 billion to continue supplying its Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station (CROWS) system, the company said Tuesday.

The new contract award will allow both U.S. and international customers to “fully realize” Kongsberg’s investments in the upgraded “Tech Refresh” version of the capability, according to a company official.

Kongsberg CROWS

“With this award, Kongsberg and the U.S. Government will be able to fully realize the investments made in the Tech Refresh systems and bring those capabilities to new and existing customers both in the U.S. and abroad. CROWS Tech Refresh is the ‘next generation’ of remote weapon stations. The Tech Refresh systems are designed to provide greater stand-off, increased precision and networking capabilities as well as vastly improved situational awareness in addition to being backwards compatible,” Eirik Tord Jensen, executive vice president for Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace Land Systems Division, said in a statement.

Company officials previously told Defense Daily the new Tech Refresh version of CROWS includes improved optics and sensors, including Leonardo DRS’ TS3 thermal sight tool, as well upgraded computing power to enable open architecture for future growth capabilities and new digital fire control tools (Defense Daily, Oct. 9, 2020).

Kongsberg has supplied the U.S. military with the M151 and M153 variants of the CROWS system for over a decade, noting it has delivered more than 18,000 units to date. 

“This is an important milestone. We are extending our collaboration with U.S. Army as we have since 2007 enabling Kongsberg, together with the customer, to provide the soldiers with the best remotely controlled weapon solution,” Eirik Lie, president of Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace, said in a statement.

Jason Toepfer, Kongsberg’s director for U.S. remote weapon station business development and product director, previously told Defense Daily the company has also built a small number of prototypes of a CROWS Light system that could be offered for Special Operations or logistics vehicles (Defense Daily, March 23 2020). 

“That’s a significantly lighter, smaller remote weapon system that allows for applications that require a smaller, lighter system, whether it’s logistics vehicles or Special Operations applications. The chassis itself is lighter. It is able to accept either a .50 caliber machine gun or one of the new 338 Machine Guns, the Special Operations munitions standards that’s emerging now,” Toepfer said at the time. “For CROWS-L it’s a system that we’ve executed as an [independent research and] development because we’ve received enough feedback from the Special Operations community that there’s an interest in having a smaller, lighter remote weapon station.”