Army’s new firing system makes firing without weapon sights a reality

United States Army contracts have been awarded to BAE Systems to develop weapon systems more akin to what has been seen in video games such as Microsoft's HALO (left) than on the battlefield. (Microsoft/BAE Systems)

The United States Army has awarded BAE Systems a staggering $384 million contract and another $434 million contract to create integrated night vision and thermal targeting systems that will allow warfighters to link a helmet display to their rifles and heavy weapons, respectively.

In two major contracts that will potentially revolutionize warfare, BAE’s rapid target acquisition technology will combine thermal and night vision devices with an optical targeting system.

The first system – known as the Enhanced Night Vision Goggle III and Family of Weapon Sight-Individual (ENVG III/FWS-I)- would allow the rifleman to acquire and “lock-on” to his target, needing only to raise his weapon sight into his field of view to engage.

The second system is designed for heavier weapons, such as the M2 .50 caliber machine gun, M240 medium machine gun and Mk19 automatic grenade launcher. The aptly-named Family of Weapon Sights – Crew Served (FWS-CS) system combines a high-resolution sensor suite with a lightweight laser range-finder, transmitting the images to a helmet-mounted display that allows gunners to better identify and engage targets.

United States Army contracts have been awarded to BAE Systems to develop weapon systems more akin to what has been seen in video games such as Microsoft's HALO (left) than on the battlefield. (Microsoft/BAE Systems)
United States Army contracts have been awarded to BAE Systems to develop weapon systems more akin to what has been seen in video games such as Microsoft’s HALO (left) than on the battlefield. (Microsoft/BAE Systems)

“Supplying the Army with crew served, gunner-specific weapon sights builds on our heritage as a long time provider of weapon sight solutions,” said BAE director of Imaging and Aiming Solutions Marc Casseres in an interview with Business Wire. “Our innovative 12-micron sensor technology allows us to provide soldiers with superior clarity and range to dominate the battlefield through increased situational awareness in all operational environments and conditions.”

According to Defense Systems, the wireless-link system will also be able to factor in different ammunition types and even allow the soldier to shoot without having to be exposed.

“This is the first time the soldier will have a system which combines a true day and night capability with a laser range finder to adjust for the ballistics of the various ammunition types for the crew served weapons,” an Army official said.

One of the key advantages to both systems is that the weapon won’t have to be “shouldered” in order to acquire and operate the system, allowing the user to engage from a variety of positions and thus enhancing the user’s warfighting capability to engage from optimum cover.

An initial $10.5 million development order has been placed for the heavy weapons DWS-CS, with the bulk of the work being done in Texas and New Hampshire BAE facilities.

The FWS-I system is already in low-rate initial production and is scheduled to be operational by 2018.

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Author

  • Andy Wolf

    Andy Wolf is an Appalachian native who spent much of his youth and young adulthood overseas in search of combat, riches, and adventure- accruing decades of experience in military, corporate, first responder, journalistic and advisory roles. He resides in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains with his K9 companion, Kiki.

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