Army Looking to Take Shooter Out of the Equation

Weapons research team wants soldiers with small arms to have the same abilities as an M1 Abrams tank—to be able to fire on the move and hit targets.

This device is designed for helicopter snipers to use as a firearm support that helps adjust for the helicopters movements.
This device is designed for helicopter snipers to use as a firearm support that helps adjust for the helicopters movements.photo from armytimes.com

We reported earlier in the week that the U.S. military is testing a variety of systems that will allow optics to take nearly all of the guesswork and variables out of small arms shooting. Now we learn that army researchers are working on ways almost completely remove the shooter from the equation.

If you think about it, the configuration of a long gun, with a stock, action, and barrel with a trigger underneath, hasn’t really changed from the earliest muskets.

The gear the army is working on ranges from platforms that would allow a sniper to insert their rifle for better stabilization while shooting from a helicopter, to nearly fully-automated robotic firing systems that can stand alone on the battlefield while the soldier fires via remote control behind cover, according to this story from ArmyTimes.com.

"We're ... letting the computer do its thing so all the solder has to do is pull the trigger," said Terence Rice, a project manager engineer at Army Materiel Command's Research, Development and Engineering Command, in the story.

Some of the team’s work was on display at this week’s Association of the U.S. Army’s Annual Meeting & Exposition.

The story says the team wants soldiers with small arms to have the same abilities as an M1 Abrams tank—to be able to fire on the move and hit targets.

The technology works by using system sensors to identify targets and track them as they move by drawing a digital outline around the threat. The story says tests have shown accurate center mass hits.

Rice said in the story that the next step is having the system adjust fire—meaning, if the target is wearing body armor, rather than aim for center mass, the system would adjust and aim for a more vulnerable spot. Testing has shown a greater than 50 percent hit probability to vulnerable, non-center mass areas so far, the story says.