Magazine article National Defense

Wearable Anti-Sniper Technology Developed for Dismounted Soldiers

Magazine article National Defense

Wearable Anti-Sniper Technology Developed for Dismounted Soldiers

Article excerpt

* A vehicle-mounted sensor that detects the location of sniper fire is now being developed for individual soldiers.

Since its introduction into the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts in 2004, the Boomerang sniper-detection system, has been installed on more than 1,000 vehicles.

The system, comprising an antennae and digital display box, detects the unique shockwaves emitted by bullets and tells occupants the direction and azimuth of the gunfire.

The technology is set to proliferate further with a recent order from the Army for 8,131 Boomerang 3 units under an urgent needs request.

The third-generation systems will be used in a variety of circumstances in addition to being mounted on humvees, Strykers, and other vehicles, said Mark Sherman, vice president of the system's manufacturer, BBN Technologies. They will be put on guard towers, vehicle checkpoints, forward operating base perimeters or "anywhere where people are getting shot at," he said.

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BBN first developed the Boomerang system under a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency program.

Researchers are now designing the next generation of sniper detection technology for dismounted soldiers.

Last year, General Dynamics C4 Systems integrated the Boomerang data into the Land Warrior system, which is currently being used by a Stryker brigade in Iraq.

Land Warrior is an integrated ensemble that is designed to increase an individual soldier's situational awareness. In this operational demonstration, soldiers--viewing a map seen through a monocle that came down over the eye--could pinpoint the exact location of a shooter who had fired a weapon. The point of origin of the gunfire was overlaid onto a map of the neighborhood.

"We can tell them what window it's coming from," Sherman said.

When a soldier comes under fire especially in an urban environment, the first thing he does is try to figure out where the shot is coming from, he noted.

"But the ear is easily confused especially in an urban environment," he said.

In this field test, the antennae that picked up the shock wave of the bullet was mounted on a nearby vehicle or placed on a rooftop near the area the soldiers were patrolling, Sherman said.

BBN, in a project with the Army's Natick Soldier Systems Center, is developing an inclusive system with the antennae embedded into the soldier's uniform. …

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