February 8, 2018:
China’s state owned arms company NORINCO builds a lot of less expensive copies of foreign weapons and the latest is the Mobile Watchtower, which is an armored vehicle with an armored box that is lifted by a hydraulic system to a height of about six meters (20 feet). It is carried on a tracked armored personnel carrier chassis.
The NORINCO vehicle is based on the 2009 Israeli Akrab which is mounted on a M60 tank chassis (with the turret removed). Akrab lifts the armored box to 20 meters (31 feet) which is sufficient to look over the security walls that surround parts of Gaza and the West Bank. While the Mobile Watchtower is being marketed to peacekeeping forces or for border patrol and is manned by soldiers. In contrast the Akrab observation box is more heavily armored (at least in the front, which has protection that can handle an RPG warhead) and can contain soldiers or rely on remotely operated equipment. The Mobile Watchtower is bulletproof, including bulletproof glass and firing ports for rifles.
The Akrab comes with day/night vidcams that can see anything up to 11 kilometers away. The Mobile Watchtower is meant to provide better security for peacekeeper base camps or be used on patrols to provide surveillance at anything up to seven kilometers away. The Mobile Watchtower can carry whatever viewing devices and other accessories (like loudspeakers) the users want to equip it with. The Akrab usually has a RWS (Remote Weapons Station) with a machine-gun (7.62mm or 12.7mm). Thus the Akrab can be unmanned if the situation is dangerous and the vidcams and RWS can be operated from the vehicle.
Akrab and Mobile Watchtower are not unique as there have been reconnaissance vehicles equipped with an extendable tower containing cameras and other sensors to enable troops to get a long look. Typically these “periscope” type towers are used for brief looks by a recon vehicle that is on the move and trying to keep an eye on a large area.