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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Aimbots In Real Life: DARPA's Advanced Sighting System.

Thanks to a SpecOps buddy for ringing me up with information that pointed me to the sources for this post.

One of the biggest banes of snipers is wind. It is difficult to estimate speed and direction of winds between the shooter and a potential target, and not unusual for there to be currents and eddies going many directions and speeds along the route of the bullet. This can cause gross inaccuracies in the shots: even under just 10 MPH crosswinds, accuracy of snipers is seen to drop dramatically at ranges over 300 meters.

DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) put out an RFP some years back for a next-generation sight system to enhance the capabilities of snipers. Known as the Advanced Sighting System (later simplified to the "One Shot" system), this technology will soon be in the hands of test soldiers, with a contract awarded to Lockheed Martin for the initial units. Lockheed Martin had been the winner of the original early prototype contract in 2008, where units showed a twofold to fourfold increase in first shot hits, and a halving of target acquisition time.

The units utilize a ~50μJ, 10ns pulsed laser to 'slice' samples of the air between the shooter and the target (getting the exact range to the target for 'free' in the process.) The aerosol back-scatter of the slices is analyzed by a sensor (either an array, or a single sensor with the laser placed in multiple sample positions per slice) to produce a time cross-correlation. This correlation of the scintillation provides information about the air movement at that slice. The system then calculates the resulting ballistics corrections, and the data is used to 'zero' the reticule for the shooter.

The benefits are myriad, chiefly:
  • No need for a spotter to guess the range.
  • No guessing of wind velocity, direction, variation and thermal effects down range.
  • No math calculations for spotter or shooter, nor manual adjustments.
  • Vastly reduced sniper training requirements.
  • <1 second from target acquisition to trigger pull.
It's an aim-bot for real life.

Boom. Head shot. At 2000 Meters.


Details of the award can be found at the article in Military & Aerospace Electronics.

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