VIDEO – Duke Airborne Systems RWS robotically arms helicopters in seconds
Utility helicopters perform a vital role in modern warfare delivering troops and supplies to otherwise inaccessible areas, but they are often minimally armed so have to fly with an armed escort. Israeli company Duke Airborne Systems presented its solution to this predicament at this year’s Eurosatory event; a first-of-its-kind fully-robotic Remote Weapon Station for helicopters.
Duke Airborne Systems new Remote Weapon Station (RWS) for helicopters is based on the company's land-proven RWS, with the concept of defending otherwise unmanned helicopters without alerting enemies.
Duke's technology takes up just a third of the cargo or troop-carrying space inside the helicopter and is only deployed to the belly of the helicopter by robotic arms when needed to reduce drag, and to conceal the armed status of the aircraft. Power, communications, and ammunition are supplied from inside the helicopter to reduce the risk of damage should these measures not prevent a fire-fight.
The business end of the RWS is an electric 25mm machine gun that can wield up to 2,000 rounds of bursting, armour-piercing, or air-burst munitions. The seven-axis weapons system offers a 360° firing capability, and a built-in multi-spectral vision system enables day or night operation. Made from lightweight composites, the system requires no dedicated operator and can operate fully autonomously - or as the company would have it robotically - including using a gunfire detection system to locate targets.
To prevent upsetting a helicopter's delicate equilibrium in flight, Duke's RWS is counterbalanced with a set of weights that enable instant adjustments, and features a 'delta-robot' six-axis motion platform for increased stability and maintenance of target-locking. Dukes claims the RWS is easy and flexible to install, and can be deployed and used without any special training. Finally, if the helicopter needs to make a quick getaway and has to drop any unnecessary weight, the pilot can activate cargo hooks to jettison the RWS completely, and continue its journey unarmed but lighter and faster.
Sagiv Aharon, Duke founder and CEO, said: "The development of the system was based on thorough and in-depth research as well as extensive know-how and experience in the area of weapon systems and their integration on aircraft."
"Now that we have accomplished a major milestone in the development of the technology, the next step will be to create partnerships with leading companies in order to achieve complete market readiness," he added.