Auto-aiming sniper rifle on the horizon

Good snipers are the stuff of legends. WWII Soviet sniper Vasily Zaytsev killed 225 German soldiers and officers, including 6 enemy snipers in what amounted to long-range duels. American Marine sniper Carlos Hathcock was so effective the NVA put a $30,000 bounty on his head. He managed to take out an opponent sniper on one occasion by shooting the enemy through his own scope. British Army sniper Craig Harrison took out 2 Taliban gunners with 2 shots at range of 2475 meters – just shy of 2½ kilometers. The skill and dedication required to achieve this level of expertise is staggering, well beyond what most people are able to bring to bear. But something is coming that might start churning out snipers of this caliber as fast as they can be handed rifles:

Using the One-Shot system, under development by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), a new electro-optical system will calculate the ballistics for him, telling him where to aim and ensuring a perfect shot — no matter the weather conditions.

Lockheed Martin won a $6.9 million contract this week for the second phase of DARPA’s One-Shot system, which will provide direct observations of a target, measure every variable that influences a bullet’s flight, and calculate the aim offset in a sniper’s rifle scope.

During the project’s first phase, which started in 2007, Lockheed developed a down-range system that measured average crosswind; range to target; spotter scope position; air temperature, pressure, and humidity; and more, according to Military Aerospace. Using all those variables, the company calculated the ballistics for a .308 bullet at ranges as far as 3,600 feet.

Now, this system developed in phase 1 was too large and bulky to be deployed and 3600 feet is just 1200 yards, less than half the distance of Craig Harrison’s shot. But the size of such devices does nothing but get smaller and the sensors will improve over time. It’s not inconceivable that shots out to a mile will be possible with a man-portable system in short order and that means basically putting competent sniper skills into the hands of anyone who can hold the gun.


One comment

  1. They’ll certainly be calibrating the final calcs for something bigger than .308!

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