Electronic Weapons: Smart Shooter SMASH Sight

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November 8, 2018: In 2017 the IDF (Israeli Defense Force) was offered a new computerized rifle scope; SMASH from an Israeli firm (Smart Shooter). The military tried it out with the infantry and special operations troops and at the end of the year approved it for use. In early 2018 SMASH was offered to foreign militaries (and police organizations). There were several major innovations in SMASH compared to the computerized sights pioneered by American firm TrackingPoint. SMASH could be mounted and used on any weapon with an M1913 Picatinny rail (that allows the sight to work with the trigger). The sight puts a visual block around potential targets the user is aiming at. When the user has the intended target in the block a button is pushed and that target is locked and a precise firing angle calculated and shot fired unless the user intervenes.

An American firm (TrackingPoint) pioneered this tech and in 2013 introduced its first computerized shooting system, the XS1. These initially cost $27,000 but the price has since come down to less than half that as the firm introduced more models and sales increased. These scopes were still expensive because they are sensor equipped and computerized to the extent that initial tests showed that over 70 percent of first-time users could hit a target over 900 meters distant with the first shot. For a professional sniper first shot success averages about 25 percent and 70 percent on the second shot. Second shots are not always possible as the target tends to duck after the first one. The army tested the XS1 and found it worked but did not try to adopt the system for a lot of military sniper rifles, even though it would be a major improvement for snipers. The major obstacle was the wear and tear of battlefield use and the fact that most snipers were satisfied with their existing scopes. Snipers are trained to take good care of their rifles, scopes and the growing number of electronic gadgets they now use but the XS1 was a major leap in terms of electronics, sensors and required maintenance. It was recognized that the XS1 technology was the future and just as the many new (since the 1990s) sniping accessories have become rugged and reliable enough to be standard items, so will the XS1 approach or something similar to it. Meanwhile, the TrackingPoint tech was adopted for a small number of sniper rifles that could make good use of it as is.

In 2016 TrackingPoint introduced another version of its computerized scopes; NightDragon. This version allows for using an IR (infrared) spotlight with a range of nearly 200 meters and a scope with a sensor that makes the IR light visible to the shooter. Normally IR is not visible to human (or animal) eyes. The computerized scope tracks the target in the crosshairs and fires when the computer determines that a hit will be achieved. Targets can be moving as fast as 24 kilometers an hour. Costing $13,000 each, this is one of the few TrackingPoint sights available for the civilian market. Most of their computerized aiming systems are only for military or police organizations. The manufacturer sells TrackingPoint equipped rifles mainly to police organizations or a few wealthy hunters who don’t like to miss. TrackingPoint now provides a growing list of computerized scopes for ranges of 350-1,300 meters for. Prices range from $10,000 to $17,000.

SMASH costs much less than the cheapest TrackingPoint system and can be used on a large number of rifles and pistols. SMASH is also coming in new versions that can shoot down small UAVs, be used at night, make videos and have 4x magnification. There are other firms developing computer-controlled sights and as time goes by these sights will have more features, become cheaper and more reliable.

 


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