By Kevin Doell, PEO SoldierJune 5, 2013
A Soldier firing at a 200-meter target on a training range has a high probability of a hit. If his weapon was secured to a stable platform, he would likely strike the target every time. However, under combat stress, the Soldier's chances of hitting a 200-meter target drop significantly. Closing the gap between the mechanical capability of a weapon system and combat stress shooting is a goal that lies at the heart of the Army's pursuit of fire control technology that will make Soldiers even more effective in combat. On June 27, Project Manager Soldier Weapons will be hosting its first Small Arms Fire Control (SAFC) Industry Day at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J., to see just how far fire control technology has come, and how far it has to go before landing in the hands of Soldiers.
"Fire control systems provide a way of realizing the full potential of our small arms weapon systems," said Col. Scott C. Armstrong, Project Manager Soldier Weapons. "These systems provide Soldiers with a ballistic solution to help them acquire and engage targets with precision. This is exactly the kind of technology that can help the Army maintain overmatch at the individual and squad levels."
Fire controls are integrated devices that leverage multiple technologies to provide a single ballistic solution. Capabilities common to an advanced fire control device include a laser range finder to determine the range of a target, a ballistic sensor to detect the position of the weapon system, and sensors that can measure local and downrange environmental conditions that would affect the trajectory of a round. The ability to share a sight picture with other friendly forces via a secure wireless network is also desirable. Such devices could be employed on a full range of small arms systems, from rifles and carbines to heavy machineguns.
The Army currently employs a fire control device on its developmental XM25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement (CDTE) system. Looking through the fire control, the gunner can see the range to the target displayed on the target acquisition fire control's optical lens, along with an adjusted aim point, or "cross hair," to help the Soldier better aim the weapon. This adjusted aim point takes into account air pressure, temperature, and the ballistics of the round for the given range. In seeking the next generation of such a device, the Army is looking towards the 2020 horizon when more compact and capable versions may be available for all the Army's small arms.
"We would like to see a wide range of vendors participate in our industry day," said Armstrong. "Considering the complexity of fire control devices, there's a need for expertise in a variety of specialties including scopes, optoelectronics, sensors, microprocessors, laser range finders, and network communications. Fire control is a critical field for us to advance if we are to maintain our overmatch against a determined adversary."
Invitations to the industry day will be extended only to those organizations that successfully document their small arms fire control research and development efforts. Detailed submission requirements are posted on the FedBizOpps.gov website under solicitation number W15QKN13ZE003. Responses are requested by June 10. Selected companies will have the opportunity to collaborate with the small arms fire control community within Project Manager Soldier Weapons, U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC), Army Research Laboratory, and the Army requirement community that currently supports the Warfighter's needs in advancing the Army's optics and fire control modernization strategy