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DARPA “One-Shot” Sniper System Continues Evolution

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The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is continuing to evolve the tactical applications for its “One Shot” sniper system. The next iteration of the program, dubbed “One Shot XG,” was outlined in a recent government meeting announcement.

The pending XG effort follows a One Shot “Phase 2 Enhanced” (2E) program to “develop a field-testable prototype, observation, measurement, and ballistic calculation system, [that will] enable snipers to hit targets with the first round, under crosswind conditions, up to the maximum effective range of the weapon…”

The One Shot XG announcement highlighted an upcoming “Proposers’ Day Conference,” during which interested participants will receive additional program information, promote additional discussion, address questions from potential proposers, “and provide a forum for potential proposers to present their capabilities for teaming opportunities.”

As described in the announcement, the One Shot XG program “will develop a compact, weapon or spotter scope mounted, observation, measurement, and ballistic calculation system that enables Snipers to hit targets with the first round, under crosswind conditions, at the maximum effective range of current and future weapons. The system developed should measure all relevant physical phenomena that influence a ballistic trajectory, and rapidly calculate and display the aim point offset and confidence metric in the shooter’s riflescope. The system should provide the ability to actually see the point on the target being measured to enable rapid field bore sighting and positive target identification.”

“The system must exploit recent development in technologies to operate over a range of visibilities, atmospheric turbulence, scintillation, and environmental conditions to provide robust operation,” it adds.

Crediting previous development phases with demonstrating “the feasibility of the One Shot program and its key attributes of hitting targets under crosswind conditions with the first round, using fewer rounds to first hit, and much shorter time to first hit,” it notes. “In field tests comparing One Shot to current sniper equipment and practice, it was demonstrated that: the first round hit performance at 1 km was improved by a factor of 4; the average number of rounds to first hit was reduced to less than 2.4 rounds; and the time to achieve first hit was significantly reduced…”

However, the testing also revealed two key deficiencies: the crosswind and range measurement system did not meet operationally representative size, weight and power (SWAP) objectives; and bore sighting the crosswind and range laser of the measurement system to the spotter scope reticle was identified as a major challenge.

The announcement asserts that “Recent developments in camera, receiver, laser and other boresighting technologies have provided new insight that has led DARPA to believe that the SWAP of the crosswind and range measurement system can be significantly reduced from the One Shot Phase 2E objectives providing snipers with a new capability to mount the measurement system on the weapon itself or use it stand alone with the spotter scope,” adding, “If demonstrated feasible, these improvements will further enhance the sniper’s ability to engage targets at longer ranges under varying crosswind conditions, with much greater probability of first round hit, fewer rounds to get the first hit, and shorter time to get the first hit than is currently possible.”

Program goals for One Shot XG include the development and demonstration of novel technologies that result in 10 field testable compact prototype One Shot XG systems. At a minimum, those systems will resolve the two major performance deficiencies identified during earlier testing.

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Scott Gourley is a former U.S. Army officer and the author of more than 1,500...