If you want proof that Robert Gates and Ash Carter are serious about pushing the Pentagon to be the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan then look no further than the wonderfully named Gunslinger Package for Advanced Convoy Security (GunPACS).
The program got started in late summer last year and the first units should be deployed to Afghanistan in September, just in time for the peak of the surge. Four of the units are headed to Camp Pendleton next week where the Marines will develop concept of operations and begin training on the system. Total cost to this point -- $4.9 million, according to Col. Patrick Kelleher with OSD's Rapid Reaction Technology Office.
This system didn't even need an Urgent Needs request from a combatant commander to get it started. Marines in Afghanistan sent emails and that got the ball rolling, said Kelleher, a Marine who served three tours in Iraq, including time in Fallujah. Kelleher said GunPACS "would have been a great capability to have had in Fallujah.
Mounted on the ready-to-rumble MTVR, the system locates snipers using the acoustic Boomerang system and feeds that data to a map and cues a CROWS II remote weapons system (pictured above). The CROWS camera gives the crew a rapid look at the possible target and the picture can be shared in near real time with a tactical operations center. That gives everyone a chance to avoid killing civilians, a key capability in a counter-insurgency fight.
The system was bound together by software developed at the Naval Surface Warfare Center at Dhalgren and that means Predator feeds could be fed to GunPACS. "We have demonstrated that," Kelleher said. GunPACS data could also be fused with Blue Force Tracking, but Kelleher said the Marines chose not to do that first so they could get the basic system to the field as quickly as possible. In fact, the GunPACS system has already undergone 1,500 miles of testing in Nevada and they checked to make sure its emissions don't screw up other systems.