ROCKAWAY TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Civilians rarely get a chance to look inside of their nation’s military, especially in New Jersey.
As CBS2’s Meg Baker reported, Picatinny Arsenal in Wharton, N.J. leads the charge in new weaponry technology, and supports all branches of the U.S. military.
Many of the Army’s greatest inventions are developed by engineers at Picatinny, a critical hub for weapons development in the Department of Defense.
Engineers at the arsenal are upgrading the howitzer with new technology, a GPS system to improve accuracy.
“We are going to have the Marines demo and do a fire, then we will get you on the gun and have you shoot,” Keith Gooding, Program Manager, explained.
CBS2’s Baker took a role in the fire mission after donning 40-lbs of gear, including a flak jacket, Kevlar helmet, eye protection, and ear plugs.
The gunner’s seat offers a rare look behind the scenes of how the military develops and modernizes.
“There is a need to let the local community see what we do here. This system alone has saved countless lives,” Weapons Station Product Manager, Paul Alezzio explained.
The new piece of technology, developed at Picatinny, has yet to be fielded to the Army, but wull give soldiers the ability to control weapons from about a mile away.
“It’s considered a robot, so guns on robots,” Engineer, Bob Testa, explained.
The unmanned weapon system is one of the first of its kind.
“Keeps the troops in a safer position. They don’t have to be in a vehicle where weapon system is on,” Testa said.
A screen in the manned vehicle allows soldiers to remotely drive and fire on the enemy.
Lives are saved by new lighter materials that increase soldiers’ speed by 11 percent. Between body armor and ammunition, soldiers carry a lot of weight into combat.
Picatinny Arsenal is the largest employer in Morris County, with more than 6,000 military, civilian, and contractor team members. The annual budget for 2015 is $3.3-billion.