Kongsberg Pro-Tech Systems USA, Johnstown plant

Jeff Wood (left), general manager of Kongsberg Pro-Tech Systems USA, Johnstown plant, and Ed Craft, mechanical assembler, look over the 20,000 low-profile remote weapon system unit on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020.

Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace Inc.’s Remote Weapon Station changed the way U.S. Military fought wars, and the company has delivered its 20,000th unit. 

Kongsberg’s 185 employees at the Johnstown facility on Industrial Park Road celebrated the milestone with cupcakes and coffee Wednesday morning.

Among them was Kongsberg Manufacturing Engineer Lead Cory Mennett. 

“It’s an important milestone. Most of the units are for the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and we are now working for the Marines, as well,” he said. 

The company delivered its initial systems in 1999 for use by Norwegian forces in mine-clearing operations following the Bosnian War, and later to several European nations for their national defense forces. Since then, the company has sold systems to more than 23 nations.

Initial systems were delivered to the U.S. government in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2001, just prior to the start-up of Kongsberg’s U.S. facility in Johnstown in 2005. The company has since delivered more than 17,000 systems to the U.S. government – all of which were manufactured in Johnstown. 

Mennett said a lot of work goes into building those units.

“The units changed the way we fought the war (especially against the Taliban),” Mennett said.

The units sit atop an armed vehicle, and is attached to a cable that runs to a monitor viewed by a soldier inside the vehicle. The RWS allows a soldier to see thermal images behind walls, and it also tracks moving vehicles, he said. 

The weapon also served as a useful distraction in the battlefield by taking the Taliban’s attention away from soldiers, Mennett said.

A statement attributed to Havard Klokkerud, director of operations for Kongsberg Land Systems stated, “Accomplishing such a significant milestone would not have been possible without the help of the many world class associates employed by Kongsberg at our highly sophisticated production facilities in both Norway and the U.S. We are very happy to create family sustaining jobs in our key markets, while protecting and supporting U.S., allied and NATO forces globally.” 

Russ O'Reilly is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter @RussellOReilly.

 

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