PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. -- What does it take for an Army sniper to accurately hit a person-size target at extreme ranges?
The Army thinks it may have the answer to this challenge in a new integrated fire control sighting system for military sniper weapons called the Ballistically Optimized Sniper Scope or BOSS.
"To improve sniper effectiveness, especially at extended distances, we need to find a way to increase accuracy by reducing aiming errors, and minimize the time for the shooter to figure out where to correctly aim his weapon," said Regina Stonitsch, Assistant Product Manager for BOSS at Project Manager Soldier Weapons. "We believe the answer could be the BOSS Project."
"Since sniper rifle and ammunition technologies are unlikely to change considerably in the foreseeable future, we're concentrating our efforts on developing a revolutionary fire control system that will provide a leap in shooter performance and likewise a big return on investment," she said.
The BOSS is a fully integrated, rifle-mounted (using the Picatinny Rail) automated, full-solution fire-control system for sniper weapons. It has a variable power (6-22x magnification) direct view optic coupled with a precision, eye-safe laser range finder. The system also contains an internal environmental sensor suite, platform orientation inclinometers, and sophisticated ballistic calculator.
The ballistic calculator uses range, environmental and weapon orientation data to compute a ballistic solution based on weapon and ammunition. It provides an adjusted aim point in the scope, which the shooter then places on target and fires.
The entire time, the shooter never removes his eye from the scope nor loses his sight picture of the target. This allows the shooter to maintain better situational awareness and avoids extra time and effort in reacquiring the target.
BOSS also provides fail-safe sniper operations in case its power source or electronics fail.
The Army acquired a number of advanced technology demonstrator BOSS prototypes and evaluated them over the past year at numerous military bases and Army test centers.
According to Stonitsch, the BOSS prototypes were sniper-vetted against personnel-size targets out to the maximum effective range limits of our current sniper systems.
However, the system is capable of accurately ranging and calculating the required ballistic reticle for those type targets at a comfortable distance, well beyond effective weapon system (rifle/ammo) engagement constraints.
Collected data shows the BOSS will progressively increase the probability of hit, as a function of range, by nearly an order of magnitude at the most extreme range and can reduce engagement times by 50 percent across all ranges.
The system ballistically supports a variety of weapon and ammunition combinations. Shooters can customize it based on observed firing characteristics, such as measured muzzle velocities and pre-transonic zone zeroing or, in other words, just before the bullet starts transitioning to subsonic speeds.
Soldier load is important, and the BOSS is lightweight, weighing 3.5 pounds. It eliminates the need for the discrete sniper accessory kit items currently carried by snipers that perform the same ballistic computation tasks but weigh twice as much.
The system is part of the Army's overall effort to invest in new, sophisticated small arms fire control systems to enhance Soldier lethality while reducing cognitive burdens under battlefield stress.
"The BOSS is currently designed for snipers, but its technologies can be easily adapted to other small arms weapon systems," Stonitsch said. "It could be a game-changer for our Warfighters by taking the guesswork out of aiming and making virtually anyone a marksman with the touch of a button."
If the Army decides to develop, produce and field the BOSS, it could be available to Soldiers as soon as 2020, she said.