The Future of War
The battlefield is changing, the technology of today will soon be the history of tomorrow. At TrackingPoint, we spend significant time thinking about the Networked Battlefield, where data will serve as a force multiplier. As additive manufacturing, cyber warfare, autonomous systems and more begin to change the way we think about war, we’re changing what small arms are capable of, and how soldiers can communicate on both strategic and tactical levels.
The Role of Smart Rifles
Smart rifle technology is more than just making shooters more accurate – it can form the core platform for a networked battlefield with its internal sensors, computing power, and communication architecture. Dynamic, interactive common operating pictures using something as simple a commercial off the shelf tablet, inter and intra-squad target handoff, a constant stream of near real time critical data running between squad members, units and command structures – these are no longer concepts drawn from science fiction or the latest video game – these are real capabilities that are months, not years away. Just as GPS changed warfare at the turn of the century, the next changes will occur via smart weapons at the small unit level, where massive increases in baseline lethality and situational awareness, with the least amount of training will be possible.
Increased Command and Control
Command and control of multiple shooters can be achieved via mobile app, so leaders can have a display on their mobile device of each shooter overlaid on a map view, with green dots representing shooter, red dots representing tagged targets in near real time, thumbnails of streaming video from each scope that can be blown up on touch, and the ability to interact with non smart rifle video inputs (such as a drone). When a streaming view is blown up, it will take up a quarter or full section of the screen, depending on user preference.
Rifle & Enemy Location Data
Smart rifles have embedded wifi and USB ports to enable hardline connections with other smart devices, including communications gear. Smart rifles currently do not have native GPS, but can have GPS plug in via USB that enables geolocation of the rifles themselves and of tagged targets via onboard sensor arrays (compass direction and range input from laser rangefinder). This will enable the tracking of targets after they are taken down, targets that are tagged and then leave the scope’s field of view, rifles lost in combat, positions of soldiers and more.
Target handoff can be achieved by leader touching a smart rifle icon and map location at which point the designated user will see an arrow in his scope directing him to look at handoff location. Whether from shooter to shooter, leader to shooter, drone to leader to shooter, shooter to leader to drone, handoff is a simple touch interface via a mobile device and mobile apps augmented by the appropriate a la carte communications gear.
Each shooter with a smart rifle also has the opportunity with multi-tag feature to simultaneously track multiple targets at multiple ranges that a leader can see on his mobile device.
Total Battlefield View
Now, commanders can see views of the battlefield not only from autonomous systems, but from inside their soldier’s optics. Target confirmation and top-level decision making can happen on the fly, both macro and micro level battlefield views will be available, and with recording capabilities, soldiers can learn more from their engagements to increase performance over time.
Future concepts will include ways in which firing systems can achieve minimal to no muzzle velocity deviation shot over shot, ways in which small arms munitions and delivery systems can be designed to defeat armored unmanned threats from the air, ground, and sea, and ways in which emerging image recognition technologies can integrate with the networked battlefield concept. As we expand our ideas, you can follow along on our email list:
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