If you’ve ever experienced the frustration and embarrassment of missing what should have been a guaranteed kill shot, rejoice: the U.S. Army may soon take aiming out of the equation altogether.
During Pentagon Lab Day on May 18, the Department of Defense, showed off an engineering model for a new rifle system, through a series of sensors and motors, automatically centered a standard-issue M4 on a target, effectively eliminating the hard work of zeroing in on an enemy.
Yes, you read that right: this rifle aims itself.
“When you want to hit a target, you have to take into account the weapon, the ammo, the environments, and the shooter,” Terence Rice, a researcher with the Armament Research Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) at Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey, told reporter . “Given the fact that we're using sensors, computers and hardware ... we can engage targets faster now.”
In the demonstration video, Rice showed off how a tactical computer mounted outside of a weapon could keep a lock on the target, even in the most turbulent situations. According to the press release, the platform “moved back and forth as if on hydraulics.” All the shooter had to do is pull the trigger.
Rice hopes the new technology will make soldiers into excellent marksmen without requiring them to actually have good aim.
“We're trying to attack the problem of aim error,” Rice said. “What this concept does is reduce aim error and engage targets quicker.”
While the advanced targeting system is currently in the prototype stage, the Army is interested in applying this concept to crew-served systems, like tanks, ships, and aircraft. But Rice believes individual use will follow soon after.
“There is a foundational technology with software that's similar, no matter what system,” Rice said. “It doesn't make any difference what caliber weapon either. It could be 5.56, 7.62, or .50-cal.”
While the technology is fascinating, it also poses a complicated question for combat troops: will marksmanship training even be necessary in the future? And could the technology eliminate the need for snipers altogether? Legendary Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Carlos Hathcock II, who established a Scout Sniper School at Quantico, Virginia, after returning home from the Vietnam War, probably wouldn’t approve.
But not everyone can be a Hathcock, and if Rice gets his way, you’ll be lethal as hell no matter what rifle you use — or how much you suck as a marksman.
A small unmanned aerial vehicle built by service academy cadets is shown here flying above ground. This type of small UAV was used by cadets and midshipmen from the U.S. Air Force Academy, the U.S. Military Academy and the U.S. Naval Academy, during a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency-sponsored competition at Camp Roberts, California, April 23-25, 2017. During the competition, cadets and midshipmen controlled small UAVs in "swarm" formations to guard territory on the ground at Camp Roberts. (U.S. Air Force photo)
Drones have been used in conflicts across the globe and will play an even more important role in the future of warfare. But, the future of drones in combat will be different than what we have seen before.
The U.S. military can set itself apart from others by embracing autonomous drone warfare through swarming — attacking an enemy from multiple directions through dispersed and pulsing attacks. There is already work being done in this area: The U.S. military tested its own drone swarm in 2017, and the UK announced this week it would fund research into drone swarms that could potentially overwhelm enemy air defenses.
I propose we look to the amoeba, a single-celled organism, as a model for autonomous drones in swarm warfare. If we were to use the amoeba as this model, then we could mimic how the organism propels itself by changing the structure of its body with the purpose of swarming and destroying an enemy.
Soldiers from 4th Squadron, 9th U.S. Cavalry Regiment "Dark Horse," 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, are escorted by observer controllers from the U.S. Army Operational Test Command after completing field testing of the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV) Sept. 24, 2018. (U.S. Army/Maj. Carson Petry)
The Army has awarded a $575 million contract to BAE Systems for the initial production of its replacement for the M113 armored personnel carriers the service has been rocking downrange since the Vietnam War.
President Donald Trump has formally outlined how his administration plans to stand up the Space Force as the sixth U.S. military service – if Congress approves.
On Tuesday, Trump signed a directive that calls for the Defense Department to submit a proposal to Congress that would make Space Force fall under Department of the Air Force, a senior administration official said.