Monster Machines: DARPA's Super Sniper Scope

Snipers are among the most valuable assets a military can deploy in battle and have become a pillar of modern US counterinsurgency tactics. While mile-and-a-half-long shots are possible, they're not all that common. But with DARPA's new One Shot XG scope system, any ol' Killroy will be able to accurately fire an M24 up to a mile.

Due to the covert nature of their missions, sniper teams typically have just a single opportunity to engage a target -- so accuracy is paramount. Hence the "one shot, one kill" mantra. Sniper cells operate as two-man teams -- the sniper himself and a spotter, who is responsible for monitoring weather conditions that might affect the shot and calculating shot corrections. Problem is, the farther away the target is, the greater the number and intensity of these deviations will be. And all these corrections will need to be calculated like five seconds ago or else that one shot will fail.

"The number one error among our snipers is not being able to accurately measure downrange cross wind profile between the shooter and the target," Steve Sampson, vice president of Advanced Programs for Cubic Defense Applications, said in a press statement. That's why DARPA awarded a $US6 million contract to the Cubic Corporation in 2007 to develop the One Shot XG.

This rail mounted system incorporates a laser rangefinder that measures the speed of downfield crosswinds, distance to the target, atmospheric conditions and other variables. It then calculates any necessary corrections and displays ballistic aim point offsets in the rifle's scope. Shooters simply need to line up their sights with what the system is displaying and boom: head shot.

While field testing likely won't begin until the end of 2013, preliminary tests have illustrated the system's promise. Shooters employing the One Shot improved their first hit probability by 400 per cent and reduced the number of shots they had to take to get that first hit by 230 per cent -- all while spending 35 per cent less time lining up the shots. In other words, this single innovation has the potential to make our snipers four times as deadly, 2.3 times more efficient and a third quicker.

The entire system weighs 1.4kg and operates equally well day or night, and it can even be used by a solo sniper. That's not to say that spotters are no longer needed -- far from it, spotters perform a host of other vital duties while the sniper's staring down his sights -- but the inclusion of a One Shot will make these teams even more efficient and reduce the need to deploy regular infantry.

[Defense Update - DARPA - BI - Cubic - Wired - FBO]

Picture: US Army


    "reduced the number of shots they had to take to get that first hit by 230 per cent" Doesn't make sense. If you reduced the number of shots by 100%, no shots would be required.

      Motherf*ckin' lazerbeam eyes, bitch.


      shot != hit

        If snipers were hitting the target with the third round, and are now hitting the target with the second round, the number of shots required to get a hit has dropped by 50 per cent. Those first shots would be called a "ranging shot" or, if you want to be snarky, a "miss"
        If every sniper is now hitting the target first time, every time, the number of "missed" shots drops by 100 per cent. I fail to see how you get a 230 percent drop.

      Say it took 10 shots to get the first hit.


      It now takes 7.7 shots to get the first hit.


        Which would make it a 23% reduction, not 230%. Not quite sure who you're calling a Philistine, but if you're questioning pugzor, then you've just shown the calculations as to how he's correct. You can increase a figure by more than 100%, but you can only decrease something by at most 100%.

    Wind speed and atmospheric density are variable throughout the downrange to a target.

    As there are unavoidable delays between the display of data, the squeezing of the trigger, and the arrival of a bullet at its target, a computer prediction of of a ballistic aim point cannot always be entirely accurate.

      It's essentially doing automatically all the math they did in their head previously so it can't be any less accurate.

        IANAS but I suspect snipers don't just do math in their heads, but that they actually rely on broader experience gained over time (eg, timing their shot between an observed frequency of wind gusts, instinct on what their target will do, and other ''gut'' instincts).

        In calm conditions I'm sure the computer would be reliable.

          They fan still do all that, this is just automatically adjusting the settings for them I assume rather than taking trigger control.

    What's funny is the people who miss the point of the whole article, and then start an argument about percentages when they have no idea themselves.

      What's funny is someone trying to behave in a superior manner to somebody else who raised a valid critique, after already participating in the exact same bahaviour themselves...

        Heh, it just annoys me that all people do is pick at the tiniest things in articles, instead of discussing the technology that is in the article.

        You can disagree with what I post all you like, I'll post what I want, and I'll call people what I want.
        I'd slander you as well, but your posts on here are actually pretty good.

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