Pitbull – RCWS for challenges of modern battlefield

By Arie Egozi

The increasing use of Remote Control Weapons Stations (RCWS) requires the development of lighter, more advanced versions to be used on manned and unmanned combat vehicles, mostly armored. Israeli company General Robotics has developed what it claims is the ideal RCWS dubbed Pitbull.

The system is already used by some European armies and the Ukraine war brings more interest in other armed forces.

The need for such an advanced version stems according to the company from the fact that modern armies have got accustomed to Remote Control Weapons Stations (RCWS) for their ability to enhance the situational awareness and firepower of mounted teams operating on armored fighting vehicles with closed hatches. However, when used on light platforms, such as commando and unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs), conventional RCWS fall short, as they are too heavy, power-consuming, and lack intuitive operation, thus becoming a liability rather than an advantage.

Pitbull - RCWS for challenges of modern battlefield
Photo: General Robotics.

Pitbull according to General Robotics is a smart RCWS, leveraging AI and a high level of autonomy to enable intuitive, remote operation on manned and unmanned platforms.

Pitbull is designed to mount 7.62 mm or 12.7 mm machine guns, 40 mm Automatic Grenade Launcher (AGL), or 30X113 mm cannons. The system’s autonomy enhances the system’s operation on many levels – situational awareness, targeting, and engagement of moving targets and firing on the move. “These advanced functions complement the human operator, enabling the human to be always in control and decide when to press the trigger,” Shahar Gal, General Robotics’ CEO, explained. Processing the command in real-time, the Target Prediction Algorithm (TPA) predicts the location of a fast target and determines the right time to release the shot, in the condition to score a perfect shot. “We offer this function users can activate or disable, as some users want to maintain full control of the weapon at all times,” Gal said.

The Israeli company says the Pitbull maintains constant, full awareness of its surrounding, regardless of the platform’s situation. Pitbull continuously tracks target, threat, and friendly forces positions. “Pitbull does much more than sensing and control. As a smart AI-driven system, Pitbull uses video motion detection (VMD) and Automatic Target Recognition (ATR) to automatically detect, classify, track, and designate targets. Using advanced pattern recognition and other algorithms, the system assesses target status, for example, designates an armed person or tracking a fleeting vehicle. This information can be used to prioritize and determine the course of action.

Pitbull - RCWS for challenges of modern battlefield
Photo: General Robotics.

The weapon controls’ ‘self-awareness’ functions optimize Pitbull’s robotic systems applications. Using the system’s panoramic sensors, Pitbull maintains an autonomous situational awareness with a built-in Anti-Collision System (ACS) and multiple dynamic Fire Inhibiting Zones (FIZ), safeguarding the platform itself and nearby friendly forces. Optional integration with Hostile Fire Sensors (HFS) and Ground Surveillance Radar (GSR) is also optimized for unmanned operation. It enables Pitbull to alert hostile fire events and trigger responding measures accordingly. Rear video cameras for monitoring and managing weapons and ammunition flow allow the operator to remotely handle the weapon as if he is there.

The growing use of armed UAV’s and drones creates an urgent need for effective countermeasures.

According to the company, Pitbull can also be used as a counter-drone system (C-UAS). Leveraging its Smart-AI automation and a myriad of effectors for a soft and hard kill, Pitbull C-UAS operates a radar for target detection, EO sensors for target classification, recognition, targeting, and electronic jammers for ‘soft-kill’ and machine guns or AGS for the hard kill. Using airburst 40 mm grenades, the system can defeat drones from hundreds of meters away with a high probability.

Pitbull - RCWS for challenges of modern battlefield
Photo: General Robotics.

“We developed the Pitbull as a robust yet lightweight system offering seamless remote control by a single operator. The dual-axis electro-mechanical stabilization, automatic tracking, video motion detection, and fire control automation results in an accurate weapon laying, delivering rapid and precise firepower from manned and unmanned platforms.” Weapon control is done locally or remotely through an intuitive touch screen tablet encased in a jacket providing the intuitive operating and safety buttons for Point & Shoot.

“At the bottom line, the reduced weight and size of the Pitbull derive significant benefits,” said Gal, “It means Pitbull can be mounted on smaller platforms and handle the recoil loads with less weight and energy. As a result, the system consumes less power and delivers higher accelerations, resulting in better accuracy and agility.

These unique attributes contributed to integrating General Robotics’ weapon stations on IAI’s Jaguar UGV, used by the Israel Defense Forces on the ‘smart and lethal border’ pilot autonomous border protection system deployed on the Northern Gaza border. The project has recently completed the first year of successful operational deployment. The system has also been integrated on IAI’s REX-2 UGV, recently delivered to the UK.


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