U.S. Army wants smart optics for infantry squad leaders

US Army infantry squads may soon be using smart optics technology.

The US Army is reportedly drafting a requirement for a new technology that would link all the squad members’ optics together — sources told military.com. With this new “squad fire-control system”– the squad leader could  put a ‘digital tag’ on a target, and the rest of the squad would be able to see the tag when they looked through their optics.

The Army has tested multiple types of smart scope technology in recent years, including TrackingPoint Inc.’s so-called smart rifle. The Texas-based company made headlines in recent years for using a computer-powered scope to help beginner shooters hit targets almost 1,000 yards away.

The widow of famed American sniper Chris Kyle, recently used one of the company’s smart rifles to defeat the NRA World Shooting Champion.

The Army, however, hasn’t fully embraced TrackingPoint, apparently because the weapon systems are expensive and “difficult to use in moving target scenarios.” Sources say “…the tag can be inadvertently transferred to a nearby civilian, increasing the risk of collateral damage.”

John Lupher, TrackingPoint’s chief technology officer, says: “It’s primarily squad-level overmatch is what they’re focused on. The question is how can you bring fire control into the squad to allow for maximized standoff distances and better lethality of range.”

He also added: “… it’s much larger than just testing a weapon and saying that’s better; it’s also understanding how military doctrine can change with the capability and that takes a long time.”

The Army may release a requirement for a system as early as March, according to Lupher, more than two years after the service started testing his company’s products. Officials from Army Test and Evaluation Command are reportedly in the process of testing TrackingPoint’s new tag-on trigger-pull technology.

Lupher says he’s confident the U.S. military would “eventually adopt the precision-guided firearms.”

Other smart scope technology, that the Army has tested in recent years, was developed by the Pentagon’s research arm — also known as DARPA. The Army is likely to look for offers from “multiple vendors.” Lupher has acknowledged “a lot of very capable DoD companies that could field a potential solution.”

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  • Michele graduated with a B.S. in Telecommunication from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications. She has spent numerous years working in the news industry in south Florida, including many positions ranging from being a news writer at WSVN, the Fox affiliate in Miami to being an associate news producer at WPLG-TV, the ABC affiliate in Miami. Michele has also worked in Public Relations and Marketing.

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