By Joshua Cohen
Vermont National Guard Public Affairs
Annual training for the Vermont Army National Guard’s Head and Headquarters Company, 572nd Brigade Engineer Battalion (Mountain) was a bit different this year as Soldiers were trained to use the new Family of Weapons Sight-Crew Served (FWS-CS) mounted on M2 .50 caliber heavy machine guns. During four days of live fire, from Aug. 17-20, those involved were asked to provide "Soldier Touchpoints," feedback used to refine the FWS-CS prior to an Army-wide deployment starting in 2023.
According to Maj. Aaron Chonko, assistant product manager at Program Executive Office Soldier, FWS-CS is being evaluated at the Camp Ethan Allan Firing Range 6-6 “ Because the terrain and the multiple firing positions on this range allow us to have numerous shooting scenarios where we can vary range, elevation, and line of sight to the target, which allows us to thoroughly analyze the accuracy of the system”.
Chonko said, “Part of the evaluations would determine how well the FWS-CS performs compared to the legacy M2 sighting system, with the objective of achieving a more accurate first burst on target.” Seven Soldiers provided data and all reported increased first burst accuracy once trained with the FWS-CS."
The FWS-CS is all digital with a day camera and thermal camera. Operating in conjunction with the optic’s built in rangefinder, a ballistic solution is calculated based on ammunition and gun type, “so when you range to a target, this system will populate a disturbed reticle where the point of aim equals the point of impact,” Chonko explained. He noted the FWS-CS will be used with the MK-19 40mm grenade launcher and M-240B 7.62mm medium machine gun, in addition to the M2 .50 caliber heavy machine gun.
Chonko said the system is easy to learn and use. “ We started with Soldiers that had zero experience on this optic. They also had varying levels of skill using the M2 machine gun; and after one day of classroom training and practical exercises, followed by another day of familiarization fire, they were able to effectively engage targets up to 1500 meters with first burst. This is extremely impressive, especially for a weapon platform that experiences a 20’ to 25’ vertical drop in the bullet at those distances.”