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The ‘smart scope’ and what the history of optics tells us about the future

The history of scopes and optics has led us to this moment
The L3 Harris Fire Control System being demonstrated. YouTube screenshot.

“You can’t hit what you can’t see.” Those words uttered by Walter Johnson, one of the best pitchers in Major League Baseball history, are true for batters as well as for the men and women engaged in battle. The evolution of warfare has been fixed on seeing more and hitting more. Until recently, however, just seeing something wasn’t a guarantee that you could hit it, especially with a rifle. All that could change very soon.

The U.S. military is on the precipice of selecting their Next-Generation Squad Weapon and possibly a “smart scope” to go with it. This seems hard to believe, especially when one considers the Marine Corps had ordered the venerable Trijicon ACOG just 17 years ago, replacing iron sights as the primary sight system for combat troops and giving people on the internet something to complain about. If a simple 4x optic ruffled some feathers, then these smart scopes that adjust for range, wind, humidity, and several other factors will certainly get people going. 

Col. Andrew Clark, 9th Reconnaissance Wing commander, tests the Smart Shooter sighting device with Staff Sgt. Colton Becker, 9th Security Forces Squadron training flight, during a demonstration at Beale Air Force Base, California, Aug. 14, 2019. The 9th SFS Airmen have been using off-the-shelf commercial technology to help train and improve how their missions are conducted to protect the installation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Alexandre Montes)

In this video, Chris “Cappy” Cappelluto takes us through how we got from a bead on the end of a barrel to a computer sitting on top of a rifle that can practically eliminate misses out to nearly 1,000 yards. This has huge implications for the future of combat, and Cappy explains why.

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