Thales Australia has been awarded an AUD11.2 million (USD8.8 million) contract to upgrade 40 remote weapon systems (RWSs) on Australian Defence Force (ADF) 4x4 Bushmaster Protected Mobility Vehicles, the country's Minister for Defence Industry, Christopher Pyne, announced on 1 December.
The contract follows the completion in June 2016 of the same work on an initial 45 RWSs deployed on ADF Bushmasters.
The upgrade to the R-400S-Mk2 standard of the R-400 RWS, which is produced by the Australian company Electro Optic Systems (EOS), includes the replacement of the entire control system with new electronics and software packages, a ministry spokesperson told IHS Jane's .
This moves the RWS from a two-axis to a new, Australian-designed three-axis stabilisation system that significantly improves hit probability on a moving target from a moving weapon platform.
Other enhancements detailed by EOS include improvements to both day- and thermal-imaging systems, automatic video tracking, instant video and audio recording of all engagements, software improvements that allow the RWS to instantly plug-and-play with any other turret or RWS, as well as facilitating integration into a variety of battle management systems.
Once in ADF service, the upgraded RWS will be fitted with either 5.56 mm Minimi, 7.62 mm MAG 58, or 12.7 mm machine guns.
However, Dr Ben Greene, group chief executive of EOS, told IHS Jane's that the R-400S-Mk2, partially funded by the government's priority industry capability innovation programme, has been specifically developed to deploy an Orbital ATK M230LF 30 mm lightweight automatic chain gun.
The entire R-400S-Mk 2 system, incorporating a 30 mm cannon and ammunition, weighs less than 400 kg, making it a highly practical option to provide smaller vehicles with increased lethality at long ranges, Dr Greene noted.
This option had aroused strong international interest and first contracts were anticipated early in 2017, he added.
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