EOS Plans to Bid for Next CROWS Contract

by: Matthew Potter
September 15, 2011

Category: Business Line, Companies, logistics, production program | RSS 2.0

The Crew Remotely Operated Weapon System (CROWS) is a U.S. Army program that installs turrets on vehicles such as HUMVEE’s and MRAP’s that are operated by a crew member under armor. They use a series of sensors to allow the gunner to remain in the best protected spot while still being able to aim and fire the various weapons such as machine guns and grenade launchers. CROWS was one response to the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan in order to provide better protection for Soldiers and Marines.

The primary supplier for CROWS has been the Norwegian firm Kongsberg who operate a U.S. subsidiary in Pennsylvania. Since 2006 the company has received about a billion in orders for their components including a contract most recently in February. This option was for about $120 million.

As the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan winds down the market for CROWS will be in meeting Army Acquisition Objectives (AAO) for a certain number of systems to retrofit and equip vehicles. It can be expected that CROWS will now be a part of the U.S. Army inventory even for future fighting even in a more traditional battlefield.

Recently the Australian company Electro Optical Systems Holdings Ltd. (EOS) put out a business update for the remote weapon systems market that discussed upcoming plans by the Army for the CROWS.

In this they state that the Army is going to compete a new contract with a goal of awarding it to one supplier. Earlier there had been discussions of using multiple ones. This would be for up to 3,000 units and had an estimated value of about $970 million.

Most interestingly the contract could call for the winner to have the ability to produce between 0 and 50 systems a month with a surge capability of 150. This indicates that the Army is predicting it may not be fully funded or have a requirement for the 3,000 units over a period of time or at a steady rate. The winner must be able to also quickly ramp up if demand suddenly is required.

The contract will also be for a system the Army will provide detailed specifications and drawings for. This means it most likely will be for an existing design in production already rather then a newly developed one or a system not currently being used by the Army.

If the U.S. military enters a period of reduced budgets and low activity they will be investing in re-fitting systems used in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as technical improvements including the production of new systems. The CROWS contract sounds like it will be used to convert more existing vehicles or be integrated on newer ones perhaps the JLTV or GCV rather then breaking new ground or developing a new system.

There will be multiple bidders for this contract as it represents one of the largest remotely operated weapon contracts in the next few years. This type of installation also represents what most likely will become standard on combat vehicles as time passes to improve protection and crew survivability.

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