Infantry: April 5, 2003


The U.S. Army now has a portable electronic shooting arcade so troops can maintain their weapons skills with less hassle and expense. American troops have long had an edge when it came to weapons skills. From the revolution on, American soldiers were noted for their accuracy with weapons. But the vast majority of today's troops are not in combat units and usually only get onto a rifle range once or twice a year. The solution is an indoor simulator (EST 2000) that uses a large video display (looking like a wide screen movie screen) for five to ten lanes (one shooter per lane) to practice firing M16A2 Rifle, M4 Carbine, M9 Pistol, M249 Machine Gun, M60 Machine Gun, M240B Machine Gun, M2 .50 caliber Machine Gun, MK19 Grenade Machine Gun, M203 Grenade Launcher, M136 Anti-Tank Weapon, and M1200 Shotgun. Each gun used on the range is connected to a pneumatic and electrical system that provides a realistic recoil. The electronics scores hits and misses at realistic targets at a variety of ranges. The system also detects when you have used all the ammo in your magazine. Change the magazine, and you can start shooting again. The EST 2000 also duplicates the boresighting and zeroing procedures for each weapon, as well as optical sights, night sighting devices, and weapon-mounted lasers. Each five lane system costs $200,000 and the U.S. Army is buying 1100 of them and larger systems. Most (65 percent) will go to the reserves and National Guard. These troops have the least opportunity to get to a rifle range, because most armories do not have an indoor one and the nearest outdoor one is usually an hour or more away. With the EST 2000, non-combat troops need only do their firing of live ammunition once a year. Tests with troops who have used EST 2000 shows that they are more accurate when they do their annual live firing. The EST 2000 systems are expected to largely pay for themselves through ammunition savings and travel expense for reservists. The increase in weapons proficiency will save lives in combat. This is particularly true because EST 2000 can provide training for "shoot, don't shoot" situations often encountered peacekeeping as well as night time shooting. Two EST Systems have already been installed in Afghanistan and one in Kuwait and all three are in heavy use. 


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