Aimpoint Takes the Wraps off New Combat Proven FCS 12 Fire Control System
SHOT Show 2013
Swedish sight manufacturer Aimpoint has used the venue of this week’s 2013 Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show, in Las Vegas, Nev., to take the wraps off a new fire control system for shoulder launched and crew served weapons. Designated FCS [Fire Control System] 12, the new system recently saw initial combat employment by Swedish forces fighting in Afghanistan.
According to Lennart Ljungfelt, president of Aimpoint AB in Sweden, the new fire control system represents “steps in different directions” for a company that is best known in the U.S. for the M68 red dot combat sights (Aimpoint Comp M4) that are a ubiquitous presence across the inventory of U.S. Army M4 series carbines.
Ljungfelt said that the company started working on FCS 12 approximately two years ago, delivering the first 125 units to the Swedish military just before Christmas of 2012.
“From the beginning we had a goal that we would try to create a fire control system for handheld weapons and infantry support weapons,” he explained. “Fire control systems have actually been around since the First World War – but not in this form. This is the smallest fire control system in the world today; and yet, it is very, very sophisticated.”
Initial applications for the new FCS 12 are on the 84mm Carl Gustav recoilless multi-purpose weapon (manufactured by Saab Bofors Dynamics) that has been fielded by many international forces, including elements of the United States Special Operations Command and most recently by the broader U.S. Army.
“What FCS 12 does is to use an eye-safe laser rangefinder to measure the distance to the target, taking into consideration a lot of the [factors] necessary to hit the target,” he explained. “And it can do that not only for one type of ammunition but at least 50 different types of ammunition, meaning that you can use this on several different types of weapons.”
According to Magnus Andersson, senior sales director for Aimpoint AB, the recently-delivered order for 125 systems marked the first deliveries for the FCS 12.
“There had been a lot of interest before that,” he acknowledged. “But we wanted to make sure that the first 125 we delivered worked exactly as they were supposed to work. That’s why we have only delivered to the Swedish Army so far. But of course we have huge interest from other countries as well.”
“Right now in the Swedish Army the sight is only for the Carl Gustav,” he continued. “But when we developed it we had our sights on other weapons as well. For example, 40mm automatic grenade launchers.”
Andersson said that both Nammo and Rheinmetall were developing 40mm air-burst grenades that would exploit the capabilities of FCS 12. In the case of the Nammo design, the FCS is equipped with a small antenna port that is used to signal the airburst of the grenade at a precise distance in flight. The Aimpoint exhibit at SHOT Show included a brief video showing the sight mounted on a 40mm grenade launcher during firing tests at the Nammo firing range in Norway, during which the gunner showed the capability to engage targets behind obstacles. It is believed that the Rheinmetall design uses an infrared signal to trigger the grenade air bursts.
Demonstrating the new sight at the SHOT Show, Andersson explained, “Instead of having a single red dot that you move mechanically when you are adjusting it, we have a micro display that contains thousands of LEDs in a raster. They are mounted in a certain pattern so that we can activate just one of them – and then we can activate another one in a split second. So it is extremely fast to change [aiming point] position; other competitors use electric motors to change the elevation. But here it goes in a split second.”
He offered a scenario where the rapid aim point adjustment could be combined with the system’s ability to hold firing data for at least 50 different munitions, allowing an operator to engage specific target types with a combination of armor piercing and high explosive ordnance in extremely rapid succession.
The FCS 12 optical system is integrated above a laser rangefinder operating at 1,550 nm wavelength (1.55 micron).
“That means that this is an eyesafe laser that you can’t detect with night vision goggles,” he said.
Power is provided through 6 AA batteries in a magazine design.
Operations and settings are performed through a panel at the rear of the FCS 12. In addition, in the case of the Carl Gustav, a wireless remote controller is provided for mounting on the left front handle of the weapon.
“The purpose is to increase first hit probability,” Ljungfelt concluded. “And that is what this piece of gear does.”