British Army gets drone-killing rifle sights
To help counter the increasing threat of micro and mini drones, the British Army has shelled out £4.6million (US$5.8 million) to equip the infantry's SA80 A3 assault rifles with the SmartShooter SMASH Smart Weapon Sight Fire Control System, which is a special sight that allows a soldier to automatically lock onto a UAV in flight.
About 539 million years ago, life on Earth went from a bland, samey collection of creatures to a sudden explosion of new forms that resulted in the incredible biodiversity we see today. Technology tends to operate in a similar manner. One moment cell phones are all white plastic bricks, and the next there are more variations than one would ever care to keep track of.
The same thing is happening with military drones as they migrate into every battlefield niche imaginable, with sizes ranging from giant fixed-wing jobs with global range to tiny insect-like rotorcraft that an individual soldier can deploy from the palm of a hand.
That's all very well, but warfare is a constant struggle between measures and countermeasures. If there are more kinds of drones, then there needs to be more ways to combat them, such as anti-drone nets, lasers, microwaves, and jammers.
However, that doesn't help the individual squaddie who might have to deal with some little hedge-hopper that could give away their position.
To provide the necessary Counter-Small Uncrewed Air Systems (C-sUAS) capability, SMASH was developed. Designed to fit like a standard sight on the SA80 A3 assault rifle and other individual service weapons, it incorporates an image processor that uses artificial intelligence to identify and lock onto a drone when it's inside the field of view. It then paints a box around the target. When the sight is properly aligned, the gun is then allowed to fire, greatly increasing the probability of destroying the drone.
So far, the new sights have been tested by the army's experimentation battalion, 2 YORKS. Under the present contract, 225 SMASH sights will be provided to Very High Readiness units across the British Army by the end of this year. Over the next few years, more SMASH sights will be acquired from Yorkshire-based Viking Arms Ltd for the rest of the army, Royal Navy and RAF.
“We are very pleased to announce the arrival of the first dismounted C-sUAS equipment into the core equipment program," said Wing Commander Mark Bowden, Programmes Directorate, Counter-UAS SO1. “SMASH is a proven capability already in service with our allies and partners. As we have seen in Ukraine and other operational areas the UAS threat is growing significantly. SMASH offers significant enhancement to the close combat operator across all three Services, delivering a tactical edge to the dismounted soldier in the C-sUAS battle.”