The fielding of the Common Remotely Operated Weapons Station-Javelin (CROWS-J) is part of a larger effort to give the basic Stryker infantry carrier more firepower.
That effort began in March 2015, when commanders began requesting a 30mm cannon to give Strykers more punch than the standard .50 caliber machine guns if they have to face potential adversaries such as Russia.
Currently, the 2nd Cavalry Regiment is the only Stryker unit that has vehicles equipped with 30mm cannons or early versions of the CROWS-J. But the Army will begin equipping three more Stryker Brigade Combat Teams (SBCT) with both capabilities in 2022, Col. Syd Hills, director of the Stryker Warfighter Forum at I Corps, told Military.com recently.
"Some will have the CROWS-Javelin, others will have the 30mm cannon," Hills said. "All of the formations will eventually have both. ... We will eventually kit out all nine [Stryker] brigades."
The CROWS-J is an M153 CROWS II system, made by Kongsberg, that has been modified to launch an FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank missile. In addition to the Javelin, the CROWS II mounts either an M2 .50 caliber machine gun, M240 7.62mm machine gun, or an MK19 40mm grenade launcher.
A gunner can detect a heavy armor target and destroy it with the CROWS-J out to roughly 3,000 meters from inside the Stryker vehicle, Hills said.
Aside from infantry carriers, a Stryker brigade also has Anti-Tank Guided Missile Strykers and the Mobile Gun System, which is equipped with a 105mm cannon.
But the driving force behind this lethality upgrade is that the SBCT is still an infantry-centric force, Hills said.
"The additional lethality and the additional firepower is a means of force protection; it's meant to provide standoff and firepower so you can get the dismounted troops closer to the objective by using the vehicle to provide a support by fire and protect them so they can go further faster," he said.
In addition to transporting and delivering nine-member infantry squads, the Strykers also conduct reconnaissance and surveillance missions that can take them far from friendly forces, Hills said.
"People that are doing reconnaissance ... at some point, they are going to get into a situation where they could get engaged by enemy forces, if they are really out front where they are supposed to be," he said. "And also they are not going to just stand their ground and kill off the enemy forces, but they have to have means to break contact to be able to protect themselves, so they can get out and preserve their combat power."
Once fielding begins in 2022, each of the three SBCTs will receive 83 30mm turrets and a similar number of CROWS-J systems, said Hills, who did not know the exact number of systems.
The goal to have all three SBCTs fielded by 2028, he said.
"And then a decision will be made when to go forward with the rest of them," Hills said.
"I think it is going to expand their ability to maneuver because it is going to give them more standoff. It's going to give them the ability to get closer to the places where they are going to drop the dismounts," Hills said. "If they somehow ... run into a vehicle with overmatch, they can take it out."
-- Matthew Cox can be released at email@example.com.