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3/4 tests robotic machinegunner

Marine Corps News

Story Identification #: 200552412207
Story by Lance Cpl. Paul Robbins Jr.

FALLUJAH, Iraq (May 20, 2005) -- The M240G medium machinegun sent a hail of bullets downrange, leaving accurate groups as it adjusted between three different targets, and behind the weapon…there was no gunner.

Corporal Ian A. Barr and fellow Marines with 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, Regimental Combat Team-8, field-tested the Telepresent Rapid Aiming Platform (TRAP) on ranges aboard Camp Mercury, here May 20.

The TRAP system is a remote controlled aiming platform that allows Marines to fire the M240G machinegun or M80A2 Special Application Scope Rifle from up to 100 meters away.

“The TRAP system is designed to keep Marines further from harms way, while still being able to fully deploy a weapon,” said Barr, a 22-year-old machinegunner for the regimental personal security detachment and TRAP instructor.

The system is operated by a remote hand device connected to the platform by a 20 to 100-meter long cable, allowing the gunner to operate the weapon from a covered and concealed position.

The platform allows a 360 degree horizontal range of motion and 70 degrees of elevation for maximum employment of the weapon, according to the Pittsburgh, Penn. native.

The weapon is aimed through an optic display provided by a bore-sighted aiming camera mounted alongside the weapon on the platform. The system is also equipped with a wide-angle search camera with 40X zoom, thermal imaging and night vision capabilities.

Despite the many features and capabilities of the platform, Marines of the battalion met no difficulty employing the weapon.

“The system is easy to operate,” said Lance Cpl. Diego A. Morelli, a 22-year-old mortarman with Weapons Co. “It’s just like playing a video game.”

While being manipulated by the TRAP system, the weapon involved maintains the same range, rate of fire and accuracy as it would if employed normally.

Once a Marine becomes comfortable with the system, its use should be equally, if not more, effective than a weapon wielded from a Marine’s shoulder, according to Barr.

After being operated by multiple members of the battalion’s Weapons Co., the platform was approved for use by the unit.

The battalion intends to employ the TRAP in upcoming operations in the near future, according to Chief Warrant Officer John D. Whiting, the battalion’s gunner and a native of Yucca Valley, Calif.

“In the defense, an automatic weapon is a primary target,” Whiting said, “The Marines will still be manning the post, but this makes them a harder target.”

Since the system is still in the testing phase, few of the platforms are currently in use by deployed forces, according to Barr.

Despite the limited exposure to the platform and its capabilities, members of the battalion are eager to see more put to use in the future.

“In this environment, we could definitely use more of these,” Whiting said.


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