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Military HMMWV Gunner Turret
The HMMWV roof-mounted weapons arrangements have evolved from a simple ringmount, to a mount with gunner's shield, to a full armored turret incorporating the shield and other protections for the gunner.
High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) Gunner Turret
The gunner's armored turret, also called the cupola, includes the Gunner’s Shield Kit (GSK) for frontal protection and the Gunner’s Protection Kit (GPK) for the sides and back, together covering almost 360° of protection. Gunner Protection Kits are attached atop HMMWVs to protect gunners who are otherwise exposed to threats like Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and small-arms fire. The full kit consists of the GSK, the GPK and everything needed to mount the components to a HMMWV. All the elements are shipped overseas as a kit where they are assembled in theater.
The HMMWV gunner sits in a sling seat during mobility operations and stands on an adjustable platform during combat operations. The turret provides a 360° field of view for the gunner although the view is obstructed by the steel protective sheets. Alternative kits made of ballistic-protective transparent materials have been developed as a replacement for the steel turret components, called the Objective Gunner’s Protection Kit (O-GPK).
The Gunner’s Shield Kit weighs over 115 pounds and the Gunner’s Protection Kit another 320 pounds, for a total of 430 pounds (or more, depending on model) in addition to the machine gun and its cradle, ammunition box, and other components. The ring mount base allows the gunner to rotate the turret a full 360° but it can be difficult to move all that weight, especially if the vehicle is not level. Motorized turret systems have been developed to solve this problem, as discussed on the linked page.
Another issue that surfaced as more and more steel was installed on the top of the HMMWV was roll-over accidents. Whether caused by the higher center-of-gravity or not, roll-over accidents increased with the advent of Up-Armored HMMWVs and the GPK/GSK. Military safety teams investigated many of these accidents and looked at the need for roll-bars or other increased protection for the gunner position, to be factored into future equipment designs.
In addition to all other hazards, U.S. military vehicle gunners have been subjected to passive attacks based on wire strung across roads. The wire is positioned at a level that would strike an exposed gunner with great potential for injury or death. To counter this threat, a post with a wire cutting notch at the top has been mounted on the Gunner's Shield. This solution duplicates the wire cutting post mounted on jeeps during World War II for the same purpose.
Objective Gunner’s Protection Kit (O-GPK)
The Objective Gunner’s Protection Kit (O-GPK) is an upgrade to the steel GPK and includes transparent armor for enhanced situational awareness while providing protection for the HMMWV gunner. The O-GPK protective solution is comprised of formed transparent armor that is constructed in layers, in such a way that effectively distributes the force of an impact. The new shield will offer equivalent protection compared to the steel GPK, but with much greater visibility than traditional armor-plate shields.
The Objective Gunner Protection Kit was developed at Picatinny Arsenal in 2005 and fielded within six months. It became the new standard for U.S. Army tactical vehicles with more than 1,000 of these protective systems in use within the Iraq and Afghanistan theaters by the end of 2006. The government-owned design consists of strategically conformed armor plates with glass-laminated windows to maximize protection while maintaining situational awareness and weapons integration.
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