Canada's next-generation military smart gun unveiled

Canada's next-generation military smart gun unveiled
A new smart weapon being developed for the Canadian Armed Forces bristles with technology (Photo: Jocelyn Tessier, DRDC)
A new smart weapon being developed for the Canadian Armed Forces bristles with technology (Photo: Jocelyn Tessier, DRDC)
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A new smart weapon being developed for the Canadian Armed Forces bristles with technology (Photo: Jocelyn Tessier, DRDC)
A new smart weapon being developed for the Canadian Armed Forces bristles with technology (Photo: Jocelyn Tessier, DRDC)

Looking every bit like a weapon from a science fiction movie, the latest integrated assault rifle prototype being developed for the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) is packed with some very smart weapons technology. Along with the ability to fire new lightweight telescoped ammunition, and a secondary effects module that adds either a three-round 40 mm grenade launcher or a 12-gauge shotgun, there is also a NATO-standard power and data bus to allow the attachment of smart accessories, such as electro-optical sights and position sensors that connect to command and control networks.

In development since 2009 via the Soldier Integrated Precision Effects Systems (SIPES) project, the futuristic assault rifle is being specifically developed for the CAF by Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) and Colt Canada. With a goal of providing a high-powered, but lightweight standard military rifle for the CAF for the next several decades, reducing weight was paramount. In this vein, when all of the components are finally pared down to their field-ready weights, it is expected that the fully-integrated prototype should weigh in at less than a CAF standard issue Colt C7 equipped with an M203 grenade launcher.

This weight reduction posed a particular challenge to researchers in the evolution of the prototype as replacements for heavy steel components were sought, fabricated, and developed. DRDC scientists in the Experimental Test Center in Valcartier, Quebec, looked for weight savings in all areas, including extensively testing and evaluating the new lightweight case telescoped ammunition (caseless rounds where the projectile is partly or completely enveloped by the propellant), especially in regard to its long-term stability and aging behavior.

Researchers also undertook studies on technology that allows the weapon to automatically procure and engage targets, along with developing sensors required to accurately locate targets spatially and share that target data with surrounding units and back to base. The next step in the research is to incorporate TrackingPoint-style projectile guidance technology.

"In the medium term, this weapon concept represents a lethal, flexible general-purpose platform," said Lieutenant-Colonel Serge Lapointe, from the Soldier Systems group in Director Land Requirements – Soldier Systems (DLR 5) of the Canadian Army. "It will be able to operate in all theaters of operations in the most complex terrain including urban areas, mountains, jungles, deserts and the Arctic."

Ergonomics were also an important factor in the weapon's development, with particular attention paid to how the soldiers interact with the weapon during a range of human factor trials performed by Human Systems Inc., under the supervision of DRDC scientists. This testing was considered paramount to meeting design criteria intrinsic to the Canadian Armed Forces Small Arms Modernization project.

Additional data was also acquired by both DRDC and CAF personnel whilst deployed in Afghanistan, which was invaluable in highlighting and defining critical performance and design elements that added greatly to the weapon's prototype development.

"The results of the first phase of the project have shown that DRDC expertise can be used to provide the Canadian Armed Forces with solid scientific data so they can make more informed decisions for their major acquisition projects," said Dr. Guy Vézina, the Director General for S&T Army, DRDC.

From a firepower viewpoint, the main weapon comprises a NATO standard "bullpup" style (magazine behind, rather than conventionally in front of the trigger mechanism) 5.56 mm NATO-standard caliber, semi-automatic rifle with selectable fire rate, whilst the secondary – additional – weaponry includes a 12-gauge (18mm) shotgun, and a 40-mm, three round capacity grenade launcher.

With the integration of electronic devices that will provide soldiers with the ability to transmit and receive data to and from a command and control network, the new assault rifle prototype promises to provide a much more informed and tactically adept experience for legions of future soldiers.

No announcement has been made as to the weapon's full release to the CAF or other armed forces.

The short video below details some of the many features of the new weapon.

Source: DRDC

The evolution of the next generation rifle prototype for the Canadian Armed Forces

Why not use US military weapons, we use their jets, GPS etc? Sounds like another Harper backed loser!
Bill Jackson
Beats me why they want the man standing behind the gun with his eye to the sight. Surely they can make a gun with an LCD screen and a 6 foot cable and servo controls so it can be aimed and fired from a foxhole or behind a wall? = far safer. Of course, needs fine servo controls and good optics
I certainly object to my tax dollars aiding in making a limited quantity set of guns. It is much more economical to buy mass produced US guns than to invent anything for our relatively fewer troops.
Len Simpson
Noel K Frothingham
Why not US military weapons? This device is not being developed for the US military, but the Canadian armed forces.
Loving It All
So, when do these arrive at Walmart?
Noel K Frothingham
Did anyone else note that this weapons is being developed for the Canadian military? Why should they be required to buy US weapons and replacement parts?
Edgar Castelo
Reminds me that phrase "A Camel is a Horse developed under a Committee's instructions !" UGH! Here you are, standing 1 foot tall above cover, trying to handle a cumbersome Monster with more bells and whistles than Inspector Gadget... WHAT could go wrong? LOL
Rann Xeroxx
Canada, love my fellow soldiers up there, but they only have 100K active duty anyway. Why not just buy either US tech (not like we are restricting sells to you guys) or other tech from Germany or other NATO members? Why pump money into this when you could spend it else where for defense?
For all the previous commenters who ALL lack the requisite expertise: I am a retired U.S. Army Ordnance officer, from Canada, (Naturalized U.S.) and have actual experience developing new ideas into actual products. It is important that Canada continue it's development & design efforts. The U.S. does not always get it right. Look at the the F22 Raptor and the F35, both have issues, are gigantically expensive and are imagined to be capable of multi-mission everything. They cannot. Specialized aircraft like the A10 Warthog still are far better and far cheaper than a multi-mission aircraft. When it comes to ground troop weapons the picture shifts a bit. Telescoped munitions are an innovation that may well be the next big important innovation, right now the picture is still evolving. If this works out it should mean a weight reduction of something like 30-40%. This has a huge logistical value from the U.S. loading dock all the way to the individual soldier. However, again, this is still evolving technology. The applied electronics are the next major area and the article mentions a NATO system standard for a common electrical and communications "bus". Starting with a common standard is critically important and needs to be applauded. Too many things start out as "white sheet" designs and can easily wind up being incompatible in ways that may not be seen until far too late. Next the materials innovations are just as important. Until you actually try to build something out of a given material or with a new process no one can tell how well it will work out. In designing complex systems testing & measurement are vital. There is a reason why we use two words here : Research & Development. Finally, Canada like many other NATO members is capable of making many contributions useful to all other NATO members. While this weapon, as pictured, seems a bit cumbersome, (Not all multi-mission ideas work out well), keep in mind this current design is a test bed prototype. You cannot just use CAD systems and pretty pictures. You have to actually build stuff and try it out. Canada has every right to build the skills to do this. And, yes, having a government with more skills rather than fewer skills is an excellent use of anyone's tax dollars.
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