The Army Is Engineering Rifle Optics That Will Never Miss

Gear
Bravo Company, 519th Military Intelligence Battalion, Sgt. Smith checks his M-249 automatic rifle sight for zeroing using his optic lens before engaging the paper target down range with three single shots in Spin Boldak, Afghanistan on Feb. 8, 2013
Photo via DoD

In modern military history, “one shot, one kill” was once a creed only for the highly-trained sniper, the hidden assassin who sows fear among enemy ranks from afar. Not anymore: The Army wants to build a rifle scope and optics system that will never miss — and will turn every infantry soldier into an expert rifleman no matter how much they actually suck as a marksman.


OK, perhaps that’s a bit dramatic, but it’s the focus of a batch of optics and targeting programs currently underway at the Army’s Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) at the Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey. And this is no moonshot project: Branch officials expect to start testing a new fire control system on the Next Generation Squad Weapon — the “one end-all solution” to replace the M4 carbine and M249 Squad Automatic Weapon — within the next three years.

Speaking at the Association of the U.S. Army Innovator’s Corner on Oct. 10, ARDEC’s Darren Ward detailed several programs currently in development by the arsenal’s Optics and Targeting Center. They include:

  • The Small Arms Weapon and Fire Control device, which utilizes a specialized laser that Army Times described as “a combination of a laser range finder, long-wave infrared camera and video camera all running off six AA batteries” to stay locked on specific targets downrange, automatically adjusting a rifle to compensate for recoil and other external forces.
  • The Rifle Integrated Optics, which functions like a heads-up display embedded inside a conventional rifle scope. It “enhances the view, increases hit probability, reduces time to engage and increases target recognition,” per Army Times — which sounds a bit like this:

GIF via Marvel Studios

  • The Advanced Small Arms Ballistic System, which miniaturizes the positioning system and range finder typically used on Army artillery pieces, so they can be used on the standard infantry rifle. It includes a digital database for ammo calibers that, based on Ward’s description, sounds ripped right from a military sci-fi flick.
  • The Precision Optical Wind System, developed in conjunction with Sandia National Laboratories, which uses a multi-laser rangefinder system to estimate wind speed and compensate rifle positioning accordingly. No more licking your finger like some sort of goon to get a feel for the breeze.

None of these systems are ready for a close-up just yet: Ward told AUSA attendees that the Small Arms Weapon and Fire Control device is too bulky and unwieldy to affix to even an M249 at the moment, and the Rifle Integrated Optic still hasn’t been “ruggedized” just yet. But Army-watchers got a preview of sorts last May, when ARDEC unveiled an M4 mounted in a special auto-aim rig during the Pentagon’s “Lab Day.”

"We're trying to attack the problem of aim error. When you want to hit a target, you have to take into account the weapon, the ammo, the environments and the shooter," ARDEC researcher Terence Rice said at the time. "And given the fact that we're using sensors, computers and hardware ... we can engage targets faster now. What this concept does is reduce aim error and engage targets quicker."

Terence Rice, a researcher with the Armament Research Development and Engineering Center out of Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey, demonstrated an engineering model of what one day might make it into the field for Soldiers, during a May 18 "Lab Day" at the Pentagon. (Photo via DoD

The week before ARDEC rolled out its unusual M4 rig, rifle guru and retired Army major general Robert Scales testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on May 17 that revolutionary advances in computer miniaturization now allow “precision to be squeezed into a rifle sight” more than any other time in modern military history.

“All an infantryman using a rifle equipped with a new‐model sight need do is place a red dot on his target and push a button at the front of his trigger guard,” Scales said at the time. “A computer on his rifle will take into account data like range and ‘lead angle’ to compensate for the movement of his target, and then automatically fire when the hit is guaranteed.”

The soldier of the future, in Scales’ mind, is a one-man sniper regardless of training. Based on Ward’s comments, ARDEC is working hard to make that dream of “one shot, one kill” for all soldiers a reality as soon as possible.

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Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher will retire as a chief petty officer now that President Donald Trump has restored his rank.

"Before the prosecution of Special Warfare Operator First Class Edward Gallagher, he had been selected for promotion to Senior Chief, awarded a Bronze Star with a "V" for valor, and assigned to an important position in the Navy as an instructor," a White House statement said.

"Though ultimately acquitted on all of the most serious charges, he was stripped of these honors as he awaited his trial and its outcome. Given his service to our Nation, a promotion back to the rank and pay grade of Chief Petty Officer is justified."

The announcement that Gallagher is once again an E-7 effectively nullifies the Navy's entire effort to prosecute Gallagher for allegedly committing war crimes. It is also the culmination of Trump's support for the SEAL throughout the legal process.

On July 2, military jurors found Gallagher not guilty of premeditated murder and attempted murder for allegedly stabbing a wounded ISIS fighter to death and opening fire at an old man and a young girl on separate occasions during his 2017 deployment to Iraq.

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Maj. Matthew Golsteyn in Afghanistan. (Photo courtesy of Philip Stackhouse.)

President Donald Trump has ended the decade-long saga of Maj. Matthew Golsteyn by ordering a murder charge against the former Green Beret dismissed with a full pardon.

The Army charged Golsteyn with murder in December 2018 after he repeatedly acknowledged that he killed an unarmed Afghan man in 2010. Golsteyn's charge sheet identifies the man as "Rasoul."

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(Screenshot from 'Leavenworth')

President Donald Trump has signed a full pardon for former 1st Lt. Clint Lorance, who had been convicted of murder for ordering his soldiers to open fire on three unarmed Afghan men, two of whom were killed.

Lorance will now be released from the United States Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where he had been serving a 19-year sentence.

"He has served more than six years of a 19-year sentence he received. Many Americans have sought executive clemency for Lorance, including 124,000 people who have signed a petition to the White House, as well as several members of Congress," said a White House statement released Friday.

"The President, as Commander-in-Chief, is ultimately responsible for ensuring that the law is enforced and when appropriate, that mercy is granted. For more than two hundred years, presidents have used their authority to offer second chances to deserving individuals, including those in uniform who have served our country. These actions are in keeping with this long history. As the President has stated, 'when our soldiers have to fight for our country, I want to give them the confidence to fight.'"

Additionally, Trump pardoned Maj. Matthew Golsteyn, who was to go on trial for murder charges next year, and restored the rank of Navy SEAL Chief Edward Gallagher, who was found not guilty of murdering a wounded ISIS prisoner but convicted of taking an unauthorized photo with the corpse.

Fox News contributor Pete Hegseth first announced on Nov. 4 that the president was expected to intervene in the Lorance case was well as exonerate Army Maj. Matthew Golsteyn, who has been charged with murder after he admitted to killing an unarmed Afghan man whom he believed was a Taliban bomb maker, and restore Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher's rank to E-7.

For the past week, members of Lorance's family and his legal team have been holding a constant vigil in Kansas anticipating his release, said Lorance's attorney Don Brown.

Now that he has been exonerated of committing a war crime, Lorance wants to return to active duty, Brown told Task & Purpose on Wednesday.

"He loves the Army," Brown said prior to the president's announcement. "He doesn't have any animosity. He's hoping that his case – and even his time at Leavenworth – can be used for good to deal with some issues regarding rules of engagement on a permanent basis so that our warfighters are better protected, so that we have stronger presumptions favoring warfighters and they aren't treated like criminals on the South Side of Chicago."

In the Starz documentary "Leavenworth," Lorance's platoon members discuss the series of events that took place on July 2, 2012, when the two Afghan men were killed during a patrol in Kandahar province.They claim that Lorance ordered one of his soldiers to fire at three Afghan men riding a motorcycle. The three men got off their motorcycle and started walking toward Afghan troops, who ordered them to return to their motorcycle.

At that point, Lorance ordered the turret gunner on a nearby Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle to shoot the three men, according to the documentary. That order was initially ignored, but the turret gunner eventually opened fire with his M-240, killing two of the men.

But Lorance told the documentary makers that his former soldiers' account of what happened was "ill-informed."

"From my experience of what actually went down, when my guy fired at it, and it kept coming, that signified hostile intent, because he didn't stop immediately," Lorance said in the documentary's second episode.

Brown argues that not only is Lorance innocent of murder, he should never have been prosecuted in the first case.

"He made a call and when you look at the evidence itself, the call was made within a matter of seconds," Brown said "He would make that call again."

The new Call of Duty Modern Warfare takes gaming to a new level. In fact, it's the best damn video game of 2019 (in my humble opinion).

You can watch video of the awesome gameplay for CoD above, and make sure to follow the Task & Purpose team on Twitch here.

This post was sponsored by GoatGuns.Com. Use the code TP15 for 15% off your next order.

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