The Army Is Engineering Rifle Optics That Will Never Miss

Gear

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.

WATCH NEXT:

Photo via DoD
(Reuters/Jose Luis Gonzalez)

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico has deployed almost 15,000 soldiers and National Guard in the north of the country to stem the flow of illegal immigration across the border into the United States, the head of the Mexican Army said on Monday.

Mexico has not traditionally used security forces to stop undocumented foreign citizens leaving the country for the United States, and photographs of militarized police catching Central American and Cuban women at the border in recent days have met with criticism.

Mexico is trying to curb a surge of migrants from third countries crossing its territory in order to reach the United States, under the threat of tariffs on its exports by U.S. President Donald Trump, who has made tightening border security a priority.

Read More Show Less
(Associated Press/Don Treeger/Michael Casey)

Packages containing suspected heroin were found in the home of the driver charged with killing seven motorcyclists Friday in the North Country, authorities said Monday.

Massachusetts State Police said the packages were discovered when its Violent Fugitive Apprehension Section and New Hampshire State police arrested Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, 23, at his West Springfield home. The packages will be tested for heroin, they said.

Zhukovskyy faces seven counts of negligent homicide in connection with the North Country crash on Friday evening that killed seven riders associated with Jarhead Motorcycle Club, a club for Marines and select Navy corpsmen.

Read More Show Less

On Nov, 10, 2004, Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia knew that he stood a good chance of dying as he tried to save his squad.

Bellavia survived the intense enemy fire and went on to single-handedly kill five insurgents as he cleared a three-story house in Fallujah during the iconic battle for the city. For his bravery that day, President Trump will present Bellavia with the Medal of Honor on Tuesday, making him the first living Iraq war veteran to receive the award.

In an interview with Task & Purpose, Bellavia recalled that the house where he fought insurgents was dark and filled with putrid water that flowed from broken pipes. The battle itself was an assault on his senses: The stench from the water, the darkness inside the home, and the sounds of footsteps that seemed to envelope him.

Read More Show Less
(U.S. Army/Pvt. Stephen Peters)

With the Imperial Japanese Army hot on his heels, Oscar Leonard says he barely slipped away from getting caught in the grueling Bataan Death March in 1942 by jumping into a choppy bay in the dark of the night, clinging to a log and paddling to the Allied-fortified island of Corregidor.

After many weeks of fighting there and at Mindanao, he was finally captured by the Japanese and spent the next several years languishing under brutal conditions in Filipino and Japanese World War II POW camps.

Now, having just turned 100 years old, the Antioch resident has been recognized for his 42-month ordeal as a prisoner of war, thanks to the efforts of his friends at the Brentwood VFW Post #10789 and Congressman Jerry McNerney.

McNerney, Brentwood VFW Commander Steve Todd and Junior Vice Commander John Bradley helped obtain a POW award after doing research and requesting records to surprise Leonard during a birthday party last month.

Read More Show Less
(U.S. Marine Corps/Staff Sgt. Andrew Ochoa)

Editor's Note: This article by Gina Harkins originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

Hundreds of Marines will join their British counterparts at a massive urban training center this summer that will test the leathernecks' ability to fight a tech-savvy enemy in a crowded city filled with innocent civilians.

The North Carolina-based Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, will test drones, robots and other high-tech equipment at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center near Butlerville, Indiana, in August.

They'll spend weeks weaving through underground tunnels and simulating fires in a mock packed downtown city center. They'll also face off against their peers, who will be equipped with off-the-shelf drones and other gadgets the enemy is now easily able to bring to the fight.

It's the start of a four-year effort, known as Project Metropolis, that leaders say will transform the way Marines train for urban battles. The effort is being led by the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, based in Quantico, Virginia. It comes after service leaders identified a troubling problem following nearly two decades of war in the Middle East: adversaries have been studying their tactics and weaknesses, and now they know how to exploit them.

Read More Show Less