- The U.S. Army is trialing a new fire control system for infantry guns.
- The SMASH scope is designed to detect targets automatically.
- SMASH will only fire when it projects the bullet will impact the target.
The U.S. Army is evaluating a scope that won’t let the user fire his or her rifle unless the shot is guaranteed. The SMASH scope is the product of Smart Shooter Ltd., an Israeli company, and could go on the Army’s upcoming replacements for the M4 carbine and M249 squad automatic weapon. The scope, or one like it, will eventually go on the Army's next generation squad automatic weapons.
Military.com tried out the SMASH system at the SHOT Show 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Smart Shooter teamed up with Sig Sauer to compete in the Army’s Next Generation Squad Weapon Fire Control program. NGSW-FC’s goal is to field a smart optic to go on the service’s Next-Generation Squad Weapon (NGSW). NGSW will choose a new 6.8-millimeter assault rifle and squad automatic weapon to replace the Army’s M4 carbine and M249 squad automatic weapon.
Current U.S. Army carbines and squad automatic weapons use a variety of red dot or other sights that project a reticle or crosshairs on target. The soldier must still line up the sights with the target while computing ballistic drop and the effects of wind on bullet flight. For example, a M855 bullet fired from a M4 carbine will impact 12.93 inches lower at a distance of 300 yards than at 0 yards. That’s gravity acting on the bullet, pulling it inexorably towards the earth. The same bullet fired from the same distance in a 12-mile-an-hour wind will shift 11 inches in the direction the wind is blowing.
All of this is a lot to compute, especially in combat. Fortunately the problem was solved in the 1970s when ballistic computers on main battle tanks became smart enough to automatically calculate this information. This revolutionized tank gun accuracy, making tanks accurate even on the move. Thanks to Moore’s Law, those computers have finally become small enough to mount on a rifle.
SMASH’s system incorporates night vision, magnification, and target detection and tracking. According to Military.com, the system uses a sight that clips above the barrel and a special pistol grip. Pressing a button next to the grip automatically detects possible targets, projecting red boxes around them in the sight’s field of view. The shooter then depresses the trigger and holds it down. The weapon will fire when the barrel is properly aligned with the target, causing a “guaranteed hit.” The auto tracker system can be disabled for other types of shooting.
The Army is testing a number of fire control systems as part of NGSW-FC, and plans to field the first new carbines and squad automatic weapons to combat units in 2023.
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