Anti-Sniper systems finding their range
By: Defense Industry Daily on: 03.11.2005
DID has covered BBN's Boomerang, a vehicle-mounted anti-sniper system, that uses sound localization to quickly target enemy snipers and direct return
fire. It was deployed in Iraq last year, and over 100 have been built. Now a small Alabama firm called Radiance Technologies introduces WeaponWatch,
which uses infared detection to instantly tell you both the location of the shooter and the weapon used. At the same time, Israeli firmElbit Systems
is introducing something called the Sharpshooter Control System.
Put these innovations together, and life may be about to get a lot harder for enemy snipers. Sniping has always been the most personal kind of war -
but new technologies are starting to extend the "information position" capabilities of Western snipers and squads in ways that tip the balance
sharply against their opposition - and make 21st century sniping much more of a team endeavor.
WeaponWatch picks up on the infrared signature of every weapon the moment it is fired, instantly identifying it from a database of thousands of
weapons muzzle flashes and relaying its position on screen. It has already proven itself in combat. The older, fragile, 400 pound version of this
system was tested in Iraq, on top of a building where there was a high concentration of insurgent gunfire. Within a few days, WIRED reports that
American troops were able to use WeaponWatch to return fire more rapidly, resulting in a noticeable drop in enemy attacks.
The US government has invested nearly $15 million over five years in developing this infrared technology. That investment is paying off. The current
version of WeaponWatch is far more durable, integrating the sensor and processor components in a sealed and cooled enclosure measuring just 20" ×
9" x 6" and weighing less than 20 pounds. It can be mounted and employed on moving vehicles, aerostats, UAVs, helicopters, or watercraft. Besides
the 4 test models in use in Iraq, another 20 have been ordered.
No anti-sniper system is perfect, of course, and any system can be fooled or exploited once enemies get a good enough sense of what it can and can't
do. The potential of combination of acoustic Boomerang and infared WeaponWatch sensors, however, may give American forces the multi-modal capability
Now the only question left is response. The Marines recently tested a program that links the infrared detector to an automatic weapon. It would allow
the combatant controlling that weapon to get a shot off almost immediately after the enemy fired. The issue, of course, is positive target
identification - and enemies who might happily learn to do things like take a potshot to draw an automated response, with the homeowner's child in
front of them in the window.
Enter Elbit systems' subsidiary Ortek with SCS, a Sniper Coordination System that offers commanders unprecedented control and coordination of sniper
(or counter-sniper) teams.
Utilizing a lightweight image splitter attached to the rifle sight, the SCS enables data and image transfer and communications with up to four
sharpshooters simultaneously. The commander can see which target each sniper is aiming at, and convey orders to each sniper - silently if necessary. A
built in messaging capability allows the commander to send a red or green light into the scope to signal the sniper, and send/receive SMS-like
messages as well.
The SCS system includes a next generation add-on for standard Sniper day/night sight which combines battlefield imaging and C3 capabilities, but is
adaptable to any type of day or night sight. Images may be received on a wide range of devices such as a heads up display, tactical computer or IPAC.
They may also be recorded digitally for up to 30 hours, enabling subsequent data analyses of engagements.
Pair that up with Boomerang and WeaponWatch technology, and truly interesting and lethal tactical possibilities open up for 21st century infantry.