Feeds

It's the ALL NEW FUTURISTIC WEAPONS Black Friday Roundup!

Suitcase assassin drone, electric stun rockets and more

Website security in corporate America

The Shoulder-fired Homing Sniper Missile

OK, you're back being a master hitman again. You want to pick off an individual target at very long range. You could use the Switchblade/Anubis that we looked at earlier, but there's a problem in this case: the other side have competent electronic-warfare specialists, and a continuous video link to the drone munition is a big no-no. These people might not just jam it, they're so good they might conceivably get a location on the firing point as soon as you switch on and shoot first. (Though they might be cheesed off about pay and not on the top of their game.)

No, you need to stay totally radio-silent here: transmissions from your equipment are out. To make it a bit easier, this time you do have line-of-sight to your target, but the old sniper rifle just isn't going to do it today. You have line of sight, yes, but you're viewing the area from a skyscraper several kilometres away and when your target appears he or she will be moving and you'll only have time for one shot.

US soldiers fire a Javelin missile. Credit: US Army

OK Mr Sniper, suck on this.

Perhaps one day, if Pentagon crazytech agency DARPA ever manages to perfect the guided .50 smart-bullet as it is trying to do, you might manage this sort of job using a heavy cal-fifty sniper rifle. But in fact it might be managed today, up to 2.5 km or so anyway, using a shoulder-fired Javelin missile. This was actually developed as an anti-tank weapon, but British forces fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan have frequently used it to take out individual snipers or small groups such as machine-gun crews - so much so that the British Army had to expensively purchase extra stocks.

But the Javelin is fat and heavy: it is only marginally portable and useable by a single man, and usually has a crew of two, so it isn't really suitable for our line-up here. Furthermore it doesn't have enough range for our task today.

But there is something much more suitable on offer nowadays. As regular readers will recall, US Navy boffins have lately added a cunning "fire-and-forget" homing seeker like the Javelin's to much slimmer and lighter 70mm rockets, which weigh just 6kg as opposed to 12kg. The naval brainboxes are looking to shoot these at multiple targets from helicopter pods holding many rockets, but in this context it's intriguing to note that the Norwegian arms industry has recently offered (pdf, see page 140) a tripod mounted, portable single-shot 70mm launcher modified to home on a laser dot, for special forces use.

An offering similar to the Norwegians', but fitted with the new US Navy LCITS fire-and-forget homing seeker instead, would offer the same capabilities as a Javelin but with much more range, much less cost and much less overkill on the warhead - indeed the option would probably be there not to use an explosive warhead at all and simply let the projectile drill a 70mm hole in its target as in the Office of Naval Research vid above. And the package of launcher tube and command unit would be much lighter-weight than a Javelin to boot, truly portable for a single person.

Assassin Brad Pitt having just fired a smart missile at his wife Angelina Jolie in Mr and Mrs Smith (2005)

Something a bit less punchy might have been more the go.

We might not see such things being used to settle marital disputes - Brad Pitt seemed to be favouring the heftier Javelin-style option for use on a troublesome Angelina Jolie in Mr and Mrs Smith - but there can't be much doubt that the weapons industry could nowadays quite easily assemble a light, slender, fire-and-forget passive homing sniper missile with a useful range well over 5km. Such a thing could surely be sold without condemnation to ground troops in Afghanistan, even if not to international hitmen or assassins.

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

More from The Register

next story
Early result from Scots indyref vote? NAW, Jimmy - it's a SCAM
Anyone claiming to know before tomorrow is telling porkies
TOR users become FBI's No.1 hacking target after legal power grab
Be afeared, me hearties, these scoundrels be spying our signals
Home Depot: 56 million bank cards pwned by malware in our tills
That's about 50 per cent bigger than the Target tills mega-hack
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
NORKS ban Wi-Fi and satellite internet at embassies
Crackdown on tardy diplomatic sysadmins providing accidental unfiltered internet access
UK.gov lobs another fistful of change at SME infosec nightmares
Senior Lib Dem in 'trying to be relevant' shocker. It's only taxpayers' money, after all
Critical Adobe Reader and Acrobat patches FINALLY make it out
Eight vulns healed, including XSS and DoS paths
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.