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back to article Computing smart-scope gunsight for US snipers

US military boffins are about to produce a field-ready computer gunsight which will let snipers kill people on their first shot from a mile away - even with troublesome winds blowing. The technical issues facing the so-called "One Shot" project have already been solved using prototype equipment, and it is now planned to produce …

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Anonymous Coward

Household Cavalry

Officers still need a personal income - you cannot reply on salary to get you though! Not exclusive at all then....

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FAIL

Surely

...this new wonder weapon will win the war against 95% of the Afghan population. I mean, the V2 wonder weapon won the war for Hitler, don't cha know ?

If not, it will win the war for an Arms supplier.

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WTF?

And the connection is?

To Terry Pratchett, I mean...

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Bronze badge

Thin

very, very thin.

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His Pratchettness once quipped...

Something along the lines of:

"...It was a million to one chance but as we all know a million to one chance crops up nine times out of ten..."

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FAIL

million to one - EXACTLY

"Something along the lines of:"

More along the lines of;

Has anyone ever heard of a 997,686 to 1 chance happening, or a eleventy billion to one chance? Nope, its ALWAYS a million to one, so if something is EXACTLY a million to one then 9 times out of ten it will happen. SO if I take this arrow, stand on one leg, close my eyes, hold my bow and arrow in my left hand that should be a million to one to hit the dragon, its bound to work!

Of course it didn't work in the end, it wasn't exactly a million to one no doubt. The similarity to Pratchett ends about here I am afraid, sine they want to make this million to one shot about 6 to 1 its bound to fail. They need to take the sniper, put him in a donkey suit, tie a string around his bollocks with the other end attached to a small furry animal with a penchat for jumping around (an excited kitten would do!), douse his hands in a can tomatoe sauce and strap a balloon marked sniper to the top of his head. That should make it about a million to one to hit anything even if its standing right in front of him, bound to work, right?

Of yes, big fail for this one, don't try to channel Terry Pratchett, the man actually has some talent, as opposed to just about every journalist in the world these days.

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did you wear the lilac?

http://twitter.com/#search?q=wearthelilac

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Pratchett

Pratchett. All the little angels.......

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One step towards...

The "Smartlink" system in the Shadowrun table-top RPG. All we need is the ability to fit this onto everything from a pistol to a rocket launcher...

All this aside while it might not be a wonder weapon, and even wonder weapons generally turn out pretty crappy in the end anyway compared to expectations laid on them, if used sensibly it could be a damn good tool.

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Corporal of Horse

Oh, so nothing to do with the size of his weapon?

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Anonymous Coward

1 in a million shots happen 9 times out of 10

Terry Pratchett in 'Guards, guards' said '1 in a million shots happen 9 times out of 10'

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Grenade

Israeli solution

The israeli solution to defeat enemy snipers in the Lebanon wasn't to rely on one-shot-one-kill, but to use six-barrel gatling guns on top of armoured personnel carriers, normally designed to shoot down enemy aircraft, and blast the crap out of not only the sniper but anyone and anything that happened to be in the general vicinity.

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WTF?

re. Israeli solution

If you don't care about collateral damage, then you won't care that you're still fighting 20 years later.

Any idiot can apply excessive force, but it rarely helps in the long run.

Maybe we could do like the Nazis and start executing people in nearby villages as a warning to potential collaborators?

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The US solution

In Yugoslavia, the merkins got rid of snipers with a subtle AC-130

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One nagging problem

The whole point of sniping is to kill high value targets at a long distance without them knowing about it, on account of the long distance.

Sending a nice 'heads up' in advance through an easily detectable fucking laser beam seems to me to be ever so slightly damaging to the whole fucking concept.

IF use of this becomes pervasive, how long until the aforementioned high value target have 5 dollar laser detectors on their coats?

Hell, you could even have a form of laser shield like it was in use in the 'stinger' anti-speed ticket device. (Detect laser, shoot garbage laser beam back confusing the device)

Does this not seem stupid to anyone else?

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Silver badge

Good question

I assume they would use an IR or other invisible laser. Theoretically, it could still be detected, but in practice I imagine that would be fairly difficult.

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FAIL

Umm, only you would jump to this conclusion...

The laser does not emit in the visible portion of the spectrum and is generally used to determine the range that the computer uses for its calculations.

So yes, you are somehat deficient in common sense

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This just in . . .

. . . not all lasers are in the visible spectrum. So, no, not so much.

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Anonymous Coward

@Hein-Pieter van Braam

I have to support you here because as per usual, the commentards are thinking a few steps behind. I especially like the moron that jumped to the conclusion that you had jumped to a conclusion about something when you hadn't. It don't get much more tardy than that.

Anyway, every point you make is valid, lasers of any spectrum are easily detectable and I think you've hit the nail on the head with the $5 laser detectors, the start of a new arms race?

I think this tech would give you an advantage so I wouldn't call it stupid. Especially if your location is not a secret, i.e. guard tower.

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Welcome

Israeli Laser Solution QED

A laser is hard pressed to pierce the night humidity (atmos. condensation, really) and dust of day for 2km. and dwell as aimed, long enough to get signal back to the scope. There isn't exactly a DragonBall Z monocle for sensing that threat. Or maybe shady BluDisk vendors float more IP now, in convenient digests. That said, wearing lampblack, having a rhino with reflectors, going around in lots of buffer smog and flashy coatings (bumper sticker 'My other car is your primary objective') has its own drawbacks. Staging laser gobos at the site has to be fine for both jamming and strategy. Light's fast, but if the same slop as sonar in a rainstorm's there, you have to reconsider unbolting the stock, going 2km with it, and picking a line that way. Plus la change, plus la meme MDK stage miroir chôse.

$5 laser detectors, if they magically worked, would give you a fine 3-second chance to teleport away. More, if the scope really choked so you were manually re-targeted. Or laugh at the 2 m/s the round might have at sighting distance. LAG!

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Grenade

laser dwell?

So lets assume that the guy you're targeting is an unrealistically far 5000m away. Assume the laser beam travels there at near enough the speed of light in a vacuum (3x10^8 m/s) and then has to get back to your scope, so 10000m at 300000000m/s gives 33 micro seconds. Is that really too much dwell?

I fully agree moisture in the air/dust could be a problem.

I'd love to know just what there $5 laser detectors people or discussing are. Granted they're probably using IR and black and white video cameras/webcams will pic it up easily enough, but this $5 gadget must be pretty clever or they'll be targets diving for cover every time someone changes channel on the telly. IR DETECTED FIND COVER!!!!!

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WTF?

*sigh*

There have been car laser and radar detectors for ages, they are now outlawed in a lot of European countries though since they 'interfere' with detecting people who speed (which is, incidentally exactly what they were designed for)

While they might not be 5 dollars exactly, they are remarkably accurate and I doubt the scatter from a television remote somewhere in the vicinity (as in the same block of buildings) would be enough to trigger an alarm.

There are a whole crop of companies who even sell 'laser warning systems' to the various military around the world to protect planes from laser guided missiles and other equipment like it.

If it were that trivial to make a beam of energy that does not interact with anything you send it to, but does send a measurable information back we have solved the Heisenberg uncertainty principle! :P

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Laser?

So the laser isnt going to give away the sniper position then?

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Anonymous Coward

RE: Laser?

I was thinking the same thing, sure it's likley to be infra-red rather than visible but it would be trivial to pick up especally with market available night vision equipment which specialises in that part of the spectrum.

I recon...it could calculate what it needs to in a split second, meaning that the laser only need be on for the minimum of time. probably activated by a half pull on the trigger just as your shot is lined up in the sights. A quick adjustment as per the readouts and bam.

The added range it would give you is probably well worth the risk of using it. But it would depend if you were in the field staying low and trying to remain hidden or sniping from a base at attackers from afar.

It defenately is a cool tool, assuming it all works like that anyway. if you have to have a bloody great laser shining everywhere then well....I don't think it would take on.

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Boffin

Stupid... almost...

Until last week I would have replied:

"how on earth can the laser possibly give away the snipers position?"

- given that it doesn't work like a torch radiating in all directions? BUT, last week I saw a BBC news report showing a police chopper being dazzled from the ground by a green laser, and to my amazement the beam could be clearly seen, as could the protagonist on the ground.... now if only the copter had had "One Shot" fitted then it would have been problem solved!

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Boffin

RE: Stupid...almost...

Good title, fitting...

The reason you can see lasers from other angles is because the light is scattered by dust particles and moisture droplets. Indeed, it is the movement of these particles that will make it possible for this tech to work in the first place. SO, IR, UV & visible spectrum lasers all have scatter and that scatter can be detected, giving the location of the sniper.

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Coat

Is this related to Sex Panther Cologne?

One shot - sixty percent of the time, works every time.

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Anonymous Coward

Red and blue

The best feature is that the sight will apparently "be capable of identifying a target as hostile". Really? If it were true, that would be very good news for America's allies...

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LASERs

...do not all have to be in the visible spectrum.

Could also be pulsed/modulated to confuse detectors, the idea wouldn't be to 'paint' a target as is required by LGBs etc. you'd only need a fraction of a second to take the readings, adjust aim, fire.

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Silver badge

LASER detectors can be any frequency as well.

Plus they can easily use scatter from the beam, thus not actually requiring the detector to be in the beam.

If the laser dot couldn't be easily detected, the system wouldn't work at all as it relies on taking readings from the dot on the target.

On the other hand - how long does the sniper need the system running to set up his shot? Probably not very long - set up a rough aim 'as normal', then turn on the computer, small adjustment and fire.

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dux
Grenade

lasers used to determine probability

AC - if the laser is going to detect probability of bullet destination accuracy, and expected condition changes, then it is going to be monitoring regularly, if not continuously.

such a weapon would be fine against a low-tech enemy, but an enemy with resources could easily put together a laser beam detection system to provide sniper warnings. It doesn't have to be visible to be a detection risk.

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FAIL

Depends on the length of time it takes to calculate the shot

if it's fractions of a second, your warning becomes a bang quarter of a second after the bullet hits its target.

If it's a few seconds, it'd be a case of "SNIPE---oh, he's fallen over."

Even with visible light it's barely a problem on that timescale.

And the laser detector idea works on the idea of the enemy having laser detectors and bodyguards who'll wear IR goggles during the day. Or a target who's wearing all over refractive clothes. Even then, your sniper could target the non-refractive roof above him, move the gun down slightly and pull the trigger.

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Go

millions to one odds = 50/50

Lets face it .. either a thing WILL occur or it WILL NOT occur.

There fore the odds of anything is strictly 50/50.

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Alien

So...

There's a 50/50 chance of you being abducted by aliens tonight while you sleep? Having been experimented on by extra-terrestrials would go a long way to explaining your understanding of frequency probability.

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FAIL

You fail it.

It is the probabiilty.

If an event has one outcome four hundred times out a thousand and another outcome six hundred times out of a thousand, what would you call the odds of each outcome?

If, for about every seven million times a thing happens, a certain specific outcome arises thrice, what are the odds of that specific outcome?

Think, man. "50/50" odds of an outcome to some event are what you have if, as the number of trials approaches infinity, the ratio of trials with the outcome in question to total trials approaches 1/2.

Of course, Pratchett was just being silly and making fun of people who underestimate the likelihood of supposedly unlikely events. You, however, are simply being daft.

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WTF?

what??!

Any odds are "will/will not" you wingnut regardless of the probability.

50/50 just means that the odds are even, there is no bias towards one result or the other.

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beware the black hole

Mike, nice reference to Mr. Wagner's sophisticated argument against the LHC experiments. Pity so many people don't seem to be aware of it. It's maybe more obscure than we both assume.

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Bronze badge

Re: ...nagging problem/Laser?

Presumably they're using an infra-red or similar non-visible-spectrum laser -- which might have the advantage of further lighting the target up when viewed through an IR scope. Since the beam itself would be invisible to the naked eye and visible only to an IR detector that was in line with the bean and pointed in the right direction it's probably not that big a problem unless clothing completely covered with IR sensors becomes popular.

I'm just wondering how heavy the final unit is expected to be. Since it sounds like it's actually doing the job that the spotter is intended to do, I wonder whether it mightn't eliminate the need to infiltrate two soldiers where one would do. Is it just the difference in field of view between a spotter scope and the (presumably) higher-powered rifle scope that the sniper uses?

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Anonymous Coward

LID

Actually laser beam is never quite perfect, unless you are working in a vacuum, in fact this is the very thing which enables the device to work. Detection is just a matter of proper analysis of scattered light across very narrow range of wavelengths. In fact you contradicted yourself by first saying that you can see the beam through nv goggles (correct), and then by saying that detection would require a point detector :).

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Bronze badge

Not really.

"In fact you contradicted yourself by first saying that you can see the beam through nv goggles (correct), and then by saying that detection would require a point detector :)."

To the extent that: 1 -- the target's teammates could always be looking at him from all sides with IR goggles to see if he suddenly "lights up", or; 2 -- a detector near enough to the beam path and pointed in the direction of the sniper could spot the laser source (unless masked by another strong IR source on the same line, possibly) you are correct.

However, what I was talking about was the likelihood of a detector (human or automated) which is outside of the actual beam path looking ACROSS the beam and seeing enough atmospheric IR scatter to identify as a threat, which I would put at vanishingly small -- particularly considering how many other objects that might be directly in front of the detector radiate in the infra-red, like vehicles, people, hot tarmac, etc., and might serve to mask the scatter.

To be most certain of spotting the beam in transit and the source one would need something pretty damned close to a point detector. It doesn't have to be ON the target, but it would have to be within a pretty narrow cone of the sniper/target line and looking in a direction pretty close to the direction of the laser source, unless, as I said, you were just looking at the target to see if he "lights up".

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Go

That... is sweet...

I was always disturbed by the amount of work the Military Channel shows for the sniper & spotter to take a shot. It involved a lot of time and a lot of tapping into a calculator and looking up tables, and a little SWAG on top of that. It seemed a lot like the level of effort of muzzle-loading, and not really something I wanted to do in combat.

Plus, the first job ENIAC had was to calculate Army shell ballistics tables, so the more things change...

Speaking of lasers, they use laser rangefinders now. Cpl Rob Furlong's shot was measured with one. So apparently, detection isn't an issue, especially with the low-tech Taliban.

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good questions on lasers

A very short pulse would be *very* difficult to detect but would need *lots* of processing to pull all the factors off of such a pulse.

Note that repeated pulses could trip a fairly low tech detector that had hysteresis.

Tricky. but pretty clever.

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Anonymous Coward

Laser Sights are Humane ...

... as demonstrated on "The Professionals" in the Seventies (I think). As soon as the villain sees the laser designator spot on his shirt he immediately surrenders!

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Joke

now snipers will have to take shots while hopping on one leg...

sorry has to be said

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Boffin

Remember the old saying

"Tracer works both ways."

I think it applies to laser as well.

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Grenade

There is a reason...

...it's called the two way range.

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Nothing really new

handheld ballistic calculators - been around for 30 years (although this one may use NABK and that needs some grunt and precise trajectory closure may need a lot of iterations).

handheld laser rangefinders - ditto, although this one is very short range.

electronic moving aiming marks - ditto, been used in artillery sights for 20 years.

using rangefinders to determine wind - nothing new here either.

Invites the question 'what took so long to package this into one device' ?

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Headmaster

Thank you

for not writing "begs the question" as so many would have(and do)

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Silver badge

Slightly related question

In one of the articles about Harrison's efforts he stated they took about 9 rounds to calibrate the distance ready for the attempted (successful) shots.

Anyone know how you do this without alerting the target you're sniping at them or was this a peculiarity of this case whereby they could do it as the targets may have been under other fire or otherwise unable to detect the calibration rounds as they were firing a large calibre machine gun?

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Barrett Bors

Actually the Barrett Bors already does some of this except judging wind and distance. It does have a telemeter, but it's not as accurate. In sniper scout squads (spotter/sniper) it's used a lot because no further calculations apart from wind and distance are necessary. It would also be safe to mention that 5.56 NATO rounds can also be used for sniping although the distances won't be as legendary as the ones mentioned (up to 600m).

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