'Smart Bullets' Are Designed To Chase a Fleeing Enemy


February 14, 2003, 11:33 PM
Me thinks HKs new US factory will be producing these

War With Iraq
'Smart Bullets' Are Designed
To Chase a Fleeing Enemy

Tests conducted in 1990 at Fort Benning, Ga., found the U.S. Army had a
problem. Its soldiers' aim was off.

Way off. On a normal shooting range, basic trainees can hit targets
about 220 yards away 80% of the time. But under confusing conditions
mimicking the "fog of war," Army researchers found the accuracy of
infantrymen hefting M16s plummeted to just 20%.

Efforts to overcome such errors have led to a major advance in infantry
weaponry -- an electronics-packed gun called the XM29 that fires both
rifle bullets and grenade-like rounds programmed to explode at a precise
distance. Six prototypes of the XM29 have been built, and the Army plans
to field the gun in six years.

The XM29 is on the leading edge of research in so-called smart-weaponry
poised to change ground warfare in fundamental ways. The Army has been
exploring the possibility of guided bullets that can hunt down soldiers
on the run. And military laboratories are already testing precision
guidance for mortars and tank shells, resembling the smart-weaponry
featured in air campaigns since the 1991 Gulf War.

Basic combat rifles, the M4 carbine and the M16, haven't changed much in
recent years, and improving them remains a puzzle. "The problem is not
the accuracy of the weapon, but the situation where the soldier has to
engage quickly. He doesn't necessarily have time to line it up and
shoot," says Vernon Shisler, the civilian who heads development of
next-generation rifles at the Joint Service Small Arms Program, based at
the Picatinny Arsenal, near Rockaway, N.J.

According to data from Vietnam and other conflicts, about 90% of rifle
engagements occur within about 330 yards, often against enemies
zig-zagging or hiding under cover. Mr. Shisler says the Fort Benning
simulations, in which soldiers ran in place to raise their heart rates
and then fired on pop-up and moving targets, helped persuade gun
designers they needed a radically new approach to killing or wounding

The Army concluded that rifles needed more electronics for targeting,
and they needed exploding rounds that could compensate for large aiming

The first smart-weapon to combine those concepts is the XM29. The Army
is investing more than $130 million into the blocky, black gun, which
fires both regular rifle bullets and air-bursting 20mm rounds that
scatter metal fragments at a predetermined distance.

The gun, whose marketing tagline is "No Place To Hide," packs some
$28,000 in electronic gear, including a laser range finder that measures
the distance to an enemy in the cross hairs. A ballistic computer on the
gun then programs an electronic fuse inside the round, which counts the
number of rotations it makes as it hurtles through the air, exploding at
a precise distance.

Alliant Techsystems, the Edina, Minn., aerospace and defense contractor
that designed the gun, says it will let troops get at enemies hiding
under cover, or behind walls in urban combat situations. The Army keeps
details of the gun's lethal effects classified. But a 20mm shell
detonated in a typical corner office would probably kill or wound
everyone in the room.

The reliance on electronics can pose hazards. In 1999, a mistimed shell
exploded inside a gun during testing, wounding two technicians, one
badly enough to require surgery. Lt. Col. Matthew Clarke, who now leads
the Army's XM29 program, says the accident prompted redesigns that
slowed development by a year and a half. "Unlike a car manufacturer, we
can't do a recall. A minor defect means a soldier gets killed. And that
is unacceptable to us," he says.

Nevertheless, the new gun is a major upgrade over the M203, the
single-shot grenade launcher that soldiers attached to their rifles in
Somalia and Afghanistan. Lobbing grenades with the M203 still takes
practice, and some guesswork.

As work started on the XM29, managers at the Picatinny Arsenal also
began thinking about guided projectiles capable of tracking human
targets on the fly. Last May, for instance, the Army began funding
military supplier Schafer Corp., Chelmsford, Mass., to develop a small
missile with 200 tiny thrusters around the edge of the projectile to
control its course. The Army funded other teams to figure out how to
hunt down people by zeroing on their body heat.

Picatinny program manager Kori Spiegel who led the project concedes the
idea of an individual "smart-missle" wasn't considered practical by
some. "It got the bad name of a Buck Rogers wrist rocket," Ms. Spiegel
says, and the project was canned by Army bosses in July.

Nevertheless, Ms. Spiegel is confident that bullets packed with
electronic brains will ultimately find their mark. "It's just a huge
leap forward for lethality," she says.

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J Miller
February 14, 2003, 11:47 PM
:rolleyes: The more you overthink the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the plumbing.

Pretty soon they won't need soldiers at all. Just button pushers in an office in DC, and a remote controlled drone.

February 15, 2003, 12:40 AM
What was that movie with Tom Selleck? It had bullets that only targeted people with specific heat patterns, and could even round corners and fly through pipes to get them!

February 15, 2003, 12:52 AM
And also all the neat, gotta be real, cartoons with the bullet waiting on you.

Isn't Hollywierd great!

February 15, 2003, 01:39 AM
I guess the concept of better training was overlooked


February 15, 2003, 01:47 AM
Pretty useful if your enemy is hiding in a trench or behind a wall. Packs a wallop!

Mike Irwin
February 15, 2003, 02:04 AM
I saw this in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit."

You just have to make sure you're not using Dum Dums, or they'll not be able to figure out who they're following, or which way they're going...

February 15, 2003, 09:14 AM
Pretty useful if your enemy is hiding in a trench or behind a wall.

I always thought this was the point behind this idea. Whuda thunk it was because soldiers couldn't hit the broad side of a barn?

Art Eatman
February 15, 2003, 11:01 AM
And Basic Training will consist of weight-lifting and marching with 100-pound packs for eight weeks, to get the legs built up enough to carry all this stuff...


February 15, 2003, 11:51 AM
What was that movie with Tom Selleck?


February 15, 2003, 12:17 PM
Wouldn't all the troops running around pointing the laser range finders be pretty easy to spot? Especially at night or in fog. And doesn't the whole beam show up in an IR cam? If so you'll have the enemy armed with cheap sony handycams able to figure out where the shooting is comming from.

February 15, 2003, 12:29 PM
"Who Framed Roger Rabbit"was funny..it was a movie though..

Now my Dad, and countless others learned to shoot M1's and 45's, they were taught to kill, and trained to not be killed themselves...How they were taught to save lives of their unit...Of course then it wasn't PC...they didn't "aquire the target" They were taught--can't say that here--taught to KILL the enemy, ahem...you can figure out the non PC teaching.

Next it'll make it to hunting...I'd rather miss because I nailed a tree, instead of my '06 skirting around the tree to secure the venison...

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