The U.S. Army will begin production on a new generation of weapon sights instead of red dot sight designed to allow soldiers to engage the enemy while staying under cover. The Family of Weapon Sights-Crew Served (FWS-CS) program links troops to heavy weapons with wireless technology.
FWS-CS is a long-wave infrared night vision scope that is installed on a M2 .50 caliber machine gun, Mk. 19 grenade machine gun, or M240 machine gun. The scope is boresighted to the weapon, meaning aligned with the weapon’s barrel. The Army has been installing night vision scopes on guns for a long time, so that part isn’t a big deal.
The big deal is that the scope has a 12-micro thermal and high-definition day camera wirelessly linked to a helmet-mounted display worn by the gunner. The display projects onto the wearer’s field of vision showing where the bullets-or grenades-will impact.
The result is that soldiers can acquire and engage targets much more quickly. Instead of looking down the sights of the gun and adjusting, they can get a good grip on the weapon, use the reticle to zero in on the enemy, and open fire. The sight also has a zoom capability, which will aid in identifying a target at long ranges.
Projectiles such as bullets and grenades gradually lose velocity at longer ranges, as gravity inevitably takes over. At 1,200 yards, for example, a .50 caliber bullet drops 86 inches due to gravity. At shorter ranges-say, 500 yards-the difference in elevation between the barrel of the gun and the sight means the bullets will strike about too 86 inches too high. You can see where the problem lies. Both distances are greater than the height of the average person, so it’s entirely possible to miss your target if you’re not careful.
FWS-CS, on the other hand, uses a laser sight rangefinder to instantly calculate the distance to the target and whether or not to adjust the shooter’s aim up or down. Thanks to the infrared sight, it is equally accurate in day or night conditions.
Yet another advantage: the wireless aspect means the soldier doesn’t have to position himself directly behind the gun to fire. After all, if the gun can shoot at the enemy, the enemy can shoot at the gun-and the shooter behind it. It is entirely possible that, so long as he or she has a good grip on the weapon, the shooter can actually duck down behind cover or inside an armored vehicle and pull the trigger, relying on the helmet mounted display to aim.
FWS-CS was scheduled to be in the Engineering and Manufacturing Phase between January and March of this year, and should enter the Production and Deployment Phase-where it actually reaches the troops-very soon.