Every soldier a sharpshooter

Rifle sights gain digital fire control for more accuracy

Soldiers on patrol with ELCAN rifle sights.

The ELCAN Specter Digital Fire Control System will allow a shooter to engage faster, with better accuracy. (Download High Resolution Photo)

There's little room for error on the battlefield. So Raytheon is developing next-generation digital fire controls for its ELCAN rifle sights to help soldiers hit their mark – even when firing from behind cover or traversing hills.

Here's how it works: A laser rangefinder sends out a pulse to measure the distance to the target. A ballistic module then tells the shooter precisely where to point. It happens in a matter of seconds.

“Regardless of distance or condition, you will be able to engage the enemy effectively without using a whole lot of ammunition,” said Dan Pettry, a former sniper with the U.S. Army Rangers and now a product manager for Raytheon ELCAN rifle sights.

Fire control is traditionally associated with much larger platforms such as tanks, drones, aircraft and ships, where many components work together to hit a target. Raytheon’s digital fire-control system, which weighs three pounds and measures three inches by four inches, is the only such system small enough for assault rifles. It mounts onto the standard rail with a clamp, and it can be removed easily for use on other firearms.

Unlike other systems of similar size and weight, the Raytheon system is the only one that works in a canted, or tilted, position. Using special software and a combat-proven ballistic computer chip from Precision Targeting, LLC, it calculates a corrected aim point if a shooter engages from behind cover or while moving uphill or downhill. And it does that for multiple calibers of ammunition, including less common rounds used by militaries around the world.

The ballistic computer chip also works with external laser rangefinders to see the exact bullet impact point.

Another benefit is the system's resiliency. In the event an electrical component on the sight breaks and the rangefinder fails, the mid- to long-range scope will still work.

“The era of digital sighting systems is now and Raytheon ELCAN believes it will become an increasingly important component for the integrated shooter,” said Ricky Freeman, vice president of Raytheon ELCAN U.S. Business Development and Sales and a former officer in the U.S. Marines.

Raytheon is developing the system for the U.S. Army. It could be available to soldiers as early as 2018.

“You put so much work and training into finding distance and all the things that go into making a good shot,” Pettry said. “The thought that someone could build a piece of equipment that could do that for you is really amazing.”

Published On: 02/16/2017
Last Updated: 11/20/2019