Feeds

Yes! It's the Reg Top 5 FUTURISTIC GUNS Thanksgiving Roundup!

Backpack raygun, portable artillery piece and MUCH MUCH MORE

High performance access to file storage

The Terry Pratchett computing sniper-scope and the target-seeking smartbomb bullet

Boatswain's Mate 3rd Class Todd Hubert - and his spotter, Seaman Chad Luck - of the US Navy SEALs. Credit: DoD

Ridiculously old-fashioned: needs more lasers and computers 'n'shit

As everyone who has read the Discworld books knows, million-to-one shots actually hit nine times out of ten. Pentagon weaponeers saw no reason why this should not also become true for US military snipers, leading them to begin work on the "One Shot" miracle sniper-scope project.

One Shot works by using a laser to measure not just the exact range to the target (this is already common practice among snipers) but also to measure the wind forces along the bullet's line of flight. Wind is perhaps the marksman's greatest bugbear in long-range shooting, so much so that snipers aren't expected to achieve a first-shot kill any further off than 600m in normal circumstances3.

The One Shot instrument, which will replace the telescope used by the sniper team's spotter, will measure wind, range, inclination, air pressure and humidity. Linked to the scope on the sniper rifle, it will continually generate artificial crosshairs indicating where the bullet will actually strike: it will also indicate the likelihood of a wind shift during the projectile's flight time, allowing the shooter to pick the best moment to fire. All the sniper has to do is move the crosshairs onto target, wait for the circle of uncertainty to stabilise, and shoot.

According to spec, the One Shot system isn't quite as good as the Pratchett effect: it will deliver first-shot kills out to 1500m only six times out of ten rather than nine. Even so, this is highly impressive stuff - and again, it exists and is going into service now. Brassboard systems have already been tested, and a contract for "fully operational and field hardened systems" was inked last month.

That's not all, either, in the field of mad future sniper weaponry. The One Shot system is designed to make the lighter-calibre sniper weapons - rifles firing 7.62mm NATO, .300 Winchester Magnum or .338 Lapua Magnum - hugely more accurate: but once the bullet is flying there will be nothing more to be done. If the target moves away during its flight (which could take seconds at long ranges) or the wind shift unpredictably, it will still miss.

But this is in hand. Bigger, fatter .50-calibre bullets are big enough that it might be possible to fit them with guidance fins and a seeker sensor - probably not a sophisticated one able to home in, say, on a person's body heat: but one which could home on a laser dot in smartbomb style should be possible.

Like a smartbomb, the proposed EXACTO .50-cal smartslug would have no propulsion of its own. It would still fly ballistically through the air like a regular bullet, but it could adjust its path so as to hit on top of the sniper's laser dot pretty much regardless of wind, range or even a fair amount of movement by the target.

A .50-cal bullet fired on a high arc can easily fly 6 or 7 km, so if EXACTO (EXtreme ACcuracy Tasked Ordnance) ammunition can be made, snipers would be able to strike at this kind of range and hit moving targets, too. This last would be handy as .50 rounds are commonly used for "anti-materiel" tasks such as knocking out vehicle engines - they're generally seen as overkill for sniping at individual humans4.

Progress? Well the EXACTO project isn't as far along as One Shot. However a "successful proof of concept" via "high fidelity hardware-in-the-loop (HITL) simulation" has been carried out, and a Phase II concept which will see a working system built has been issued.

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Fancy joining Reg hack on quid-a-day challenge?
Recruiting now for charity starvation diet
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Opportunity selfie: Martian winds have given the spunky ol' rover a spring cleaning
Power levels up 70 per cent as the rover keeps on truckin'
KILLER ROBOTS, DNA TAMPERING and PEEPING CYBORGS: the future looks bright!
Americans optimistic about technology despite being afraid of EVERYTHING
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.