Autonomous Rotorcraft Sniper System packs .338-caliber rifle controlled by Xbox 360 pad

ARSS is based on the Vigilante 502 unmanned helicopter

ARSS is based on the Vigilante 502 unmanned helicopter.

April 29, 2009 Late last year reports surfaced of a modified radio controlled helicopter equipped with a .45 caliber hand gun, including a video of the RC copter doing target practice with live ammunition (see below). It seems the US Army have been thinking along the same lines, except this one carries a .338 caliber sniper rifle.

Most unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) like the Predator and Reaper are fixed wing aircraft which originally filled a reconnaissance role but have more recently been fitted with 500-lb bombs and Hellfire missles to tackle Hunter-Killer roles in combat zones. To limit collateral damage, especially in cities the US Army is developing a small, unmanned helicopter equipped with a powerful .338-caliber rifle and an autopilot system handles the tricky business of flying while the operator lines up the kill shot on a remote monitor.

The autonomous Rotorcraft Sniper System (ARSS) is based on the Vigilante 502 unmanned helicopter which is a much modified version of the commercially available Ultrasport 496 which is an ultralight class kit helicopter. Powered by a 115 hp 4 cylinder turbocharged Rotax engine the 1,100 pounds (500kg) UAV can fly at 117 knots (135 mph / 216 kph) for up to 9 hours with a ceiling of 13,000 feet (4,000 m). The Vigilante can carry up to 380 lb (172 kg) of payload which is enough for a medium caliber machine gun, a shotgun or in this case a sniper gun. The autopilot is based on a 266Mhz Pentium PC-104 industrial computer that gets it bearings using GPS, radar altimeter and magnetometer. Communication with the ground is via RF digital modems at 115kbps and has a 20 mile range.

Mounted onto this UAV is a lightweight gun turret developed by Space Dynamics Laboratory. The turret carries a .338 Lapua Magnum rifle and a situational awareness camera plus a scope with cameras attached that provides two levels of zoom. Control of the rifle is via a laptop computer with a Xbox 360 gaming controller used for aiming and firing.

Paul Evans

Video - Modified radio controlled helicopter equipped with a .45 caliber hand gun

Show 2 comments

Recommended for you

Latest in Military

Editors Choice

See the stories that matter in your inbox every morning