by David Crane
defrev (at) gmail (dot) com
July 19, 2006
There are currently a number of anti-sniper systems (a.k.a. sniper detection systems, a.k.a. gunfire detection systems) that have been designed and developed for use by military infantry personnel. DefenseReview plans on doing a review and analysis of all of these systems/technologies at some point in the not-too-distant future.
In the meantime, we thought we would provide our readers with some info that we’ve gleaned from the various manufacturers’ websites, as well as some additional information that is available around the web (including articles and press releases), so our readers can have all the information in one location (here). An anti-sniper/sniper detection/gunfire detection system resource, if you will. Most of the following information comes from outside sources, and is not Defense Review original content. However, our readers should find it useful, nonetheless.
Here’s some of what we’ve found so far:…
When the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) realized they needed a way to help protect U.S. troops from sniper attacks in Iraq, and they needed it quickly, they called on BBN Technologies.
DARPA needed a vehicle-mounted system that would localize shooters firing at moving HMMWVs, giving U.S. soldiers time to return fire or get out of harm’s way. BBN had previously developed a counter sniper system under DARPA sponsorship, but this new system would require significant adaptations. The requirements included:
- Shooter localization to plus or minus 15 degree accuracy and within one second of the shot
- Reliability for shot miss distances of one to 30 meters
- Ability to detect and localize fire from AK-47s and other small arms at ranges from 50 to 150 meters
- Reliable performance in urban environments with low buildings
- Operable when mounted on a vehicle moving up to 60 miles per
hour on either rough terrain or highways
- Ability to withstand sand, pebbles, rain, and light foliage impacts
- Ability to deliver alert information in both a voice announcement and on an LED display
- Microphone array and electronics box must be replaceable in the field
By designing and testing sensor arrays, cabling, and custom boards, and developing signal processing algorithms at a feverish pace, BBN scientists and engineers were able to design, test, produce, and deliver life-saving technology to troops serving on Operation Iraqi Freedom in just over two months. The result is just what the customer requested; a vehicle-mounted sensor system that identifies the origination point of hostile gunfire and works in extreme weather conditions, in the open field and in urban environments; whether static or moving. Sensors, which are mounted in an array at the top of a pole attached to the rear of a vehicle, detect both supersonic shock waves and sound waves from the muzzle blast to identify the location from which a shot is fired. Users receive simultaneous visual and auditory information on the point of fire from an LED display and speaker mounted inside the vehicle.”
The BBN Boomerang Story: Innovation on Demand (PDF Format)
“Detecting and Responding to Enemy Weapon Fire at the Speed of Light WeaponWatch combines infrared sensor fidelity and super high-speed data analysis to enable warfighters to instantaneously detect, locate and classify firings of a broad range of weapons. Warfighters and security personnel are under increasing risk from sniper fire and drive-by shootings. These terrorist acts succeed largely because of the difficulty in detecting and locating the enemy fire. Forces engaged with Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) are employing this system today to provide exacting targeting information in both urban and open terrain.
WeaponWatch: The Complete Solution
- Detects weapon fire in real-time day or night across a wide 120° field of view. Sensors may be stationary or “on the move.” WeaponWatch can identify individual weapons fired during simul-taneous fire from dozens of weapons.
- Locates fired weapons by translating azimuth, elevation and range to actionable geocoordinates. WeaponWatch integrates with the platform’s guidance system to adjust for velocity and aspect.
- Classifies detected weapons using a vast database of weapon fire signatures for small arms, sniper rifles, machine guns, RPGs, MANPADs, tanks, mortars, artillery and others. Weapon-Watch can detect fire from each of these weapons from beyond its effective range.
- Responds instantaneously with the detected weapon’s type and geolocation, cuing integrated sensors, weapons and other systems while transmitting detection and response event data to command and control systems. WeaponWatch’s user interface delivers detailed visual information with man-in-the-loop engage-ment control.”
iRobot and Boston Univ. Photonics Center Unveil Advanced Sniper Detection System for iRobot PackBot Combat-Proven Robot to be Equipped with Enhanced Laser, Optical & Acoustic Systems
REDOWL is an ongoing rapid development program led by The Photonics Center at Boston University with iRobot, Insight Technology and BioMimetic Systems. The technology will be demonstrated publicly for the first time today at the Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA) Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., at iRobot booth No. 1750.
REDOWL is a remote, deployable sensor suite designed to provide early warning information, gunshot detection, intelligence, surveillance and targeting capabilities to military forces and government agencies. The REDOWL equipped PackBot has been field-tested for the Army’s Rapid Equipping Force at a rifle and trapshooting range. Of the more than 150 rounds fired from 9 mm pistols, M-16 and AK-47 rifles from over 100 meters, the REDOWL system located the source of the gunfire successfully 94 percent of the time.
The iRobot PackBot is a Tactical Mobile Robot that can be hand-carried and deployed by a single soldier. Proven in Afghanistan and Iraq, PackBot searches dangerous or inaccessible areas, providing soldiers with a safe first look so they know what to expect and how to respond.
“REDOWL more than satisfies mission requirements to provide advanced optical and acoustic detection capabilities to the U.S. military for use in its growing inventory of unmanned ground vehicles,” said Dr. Glenn Thoren, director of Project REDOWL. “Combining optics and acoustics systems together with iRobot’s PackBot to detect and locate a source of hostile fire or track moving vehicles, day or night, is a first in systems integration for unmanned vehicles.”
REDOWL features an array of optics and acoustic detection systems including a laser pointer and illuminator, acoustic localizer and classifier, thermal imager, GPS positioning, an infrared and daylight camera and two wide-angle cameras. When integrated with the PackBot, these systems enable the robot to accurately detect, locate and identify the origination point of hostile gunfire. These systems also make REDOWL ideal for day and night urban surveillance, reconnaissance, hostage/barricade situations, forward observation outposts and perimeter protection missions.
“Snipers have had the advantage of being effectively invisible – making them a deadly threat on the battlefield and in urban settings,” said Vice Admiral Joe Dyer (U.S. Navy, Ret.), executive vice president and general manager, iRobot Government & Industrial Robots. “REDOWL is a mobile system, which means snipers can run but they cannot hide anymore.”
REDOWL features an Acoustic Direction Finding (ADF) system developed by BioMimetic Systems. The ADF is based on advanced “neural circuits” emulating human hearing and provides accurate detection and bearing information in high background noise environments.
In addition to providing its PackBot robot platform, iRobot developed the software and behaviors for the robot. Insight Technology, a manufacturer of high-performance visible and infrared laser and illuminator systems, is heading up the development of REDOWL’s optics systems. BioMimetic Systems, a Photonics Center portfolio company, is responsible for REDOWL’s acoustic detection and location systems. The Army Research Laboratory is the primary source of funding for the project.
About iRobot Corp.
About The Photonics Center at Boston University (www.thephotonicscenter.com)
For iRobot Corp.:
For Boston University:
The Photonics Center
4) M1 FS-GDS Fixed Site/and M2 VM-GDS Vehicle Mounted Gunfire Detection Systems
The Gunfire Detection System (GDS) is a passive, acoustic-based security system that can detect and locate sniper or gunshot activity that occurs outside of the safety perimeter. This allows raid teams to quickly respond to catch the attackers, greatly increasing their chance of success. GDS is ideal for asset and force protection, providing automatic 360-degree coverage and multi-computer compatibility. The munition is currently being used by both the Army and Special Operations Forces as an additional layer of defense against aggression and terrorist-type activities in Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.
From the AAI Corporation website:
The result is a tailored gunfire detection system that’s cost-effective, rugged, and accurate in all weather conditions, day or night.
PDCue Product Brochure: PDCue Family of Gunfire Detection Systems (PDF Format)
For more information,contact Derek Baker [email protected] or call 1-410-628-3234 or 1-800-655-2616.”
6) Anti-Sniper Infrared Targeting System (ASITS)
The following information comes from a M2 Technologies document on the ASITS technology:
“Hostile fire is the greatest cause of US casualties and is currently a significant killer in both Iraq and Afghanistan. This fire comes from many different sources; snipers, rockets, artillery, mortars, and the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs). These enemy engagements are very short in time and are therefore, difficult to defeat._
In October, 2004 M2 Technologies, Inc. and the University of Kentucky partnered in a formal active collaborative effort to support the development of an Anti-Sniper Infrared Targeting System, known as ASITS. The developmental approach for ASITS uses commercially available sensors, ballistic modeling and commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) processing hardware.
· Undetectably track thermal signatures of ballistics, artillery shells, and exploding fragments while in flight;
· Deliver improved accuracy over acoustic technologies that cannot reliably distinguish the source of weapons fire from echo-reflected sounds, redirected distorted sounds and sounds that emanate from military operations conducted in urban environments;
· Support multiple applications, e.g. fixed site, vehicle mounted, or airborne capability and is customizable;
· Provide instantaneous data collection at either a fixed site, in a moving vehicle or specified UAVs;
· Effectively works with suppressed ballistics and does not require muzzle blast.
M2 and the University of Kentucky Research Foundation (UKRF) have successfully demonstrated the ASITS proof of concept.
APITS relies on the same high-speed infrared imaging to detect and track projectiles in flight. An incoming hostile projectile is targeted using a phase-only, liquid crystal, spatial light modulator (SLM) to electronically direct a laser light source. The resulting laser spot is then reflected off the incoming projectile. An interceptor projectile, having the capability of being steered will then guide itself into this reflected laser spot. By doing so, one can achieve a 1:1 ratio of interceptor to incoming projectiles that effectively eliminates the incoming hostile projectile and attendant collateral damage.
Fragmentation Infrared Targeting (Frag-IT) System
ASITS technology has been developed to identify various types of munitions fragmentation patterns. M2 can provide this service using a series of infrared sensors, dedicated lenses, ruggedized modular computer systems, and proprietary software based on the individual customers’ requirements. M2 has the capability to virtually assess the fragmentation effectiveness from various munitions, both static and air burst such as the programmable fuzed airburst munitions (PABM).”
The ShotSpotter Military systems consists of three redundant “layers” of protection. Each layer works equally effectively deployed independently or in concert with other layers. The rapidly changing and dynamic nature of modern military combat motivated ShotSpotter’s decision to develop redundant protection layers which can interact with other layers when available or fall back to single layer performance when operating in an unsupported mode.
Last December, U.S. Joint Forces Command announced that they conducted a test of unmanned aerial vehicle, gunshot detection and interoperation capabilities in urban environments as part of a U.S. Marine Corps exercise in Louisiana. “One of the primary goals for the experiment involved the testing of the ShotSpotter system, an acoustic locating system that cues a UAV sensor to locate an enemy when he fires a weapon, whether on a battlefield or in an urban environment.”
Layer 1: Soldier-worn
Available now, this highly-sophisticated soldier-worn gunshot location system allows troops on the move to detect and locate gunshots and sniper-fire. Sensor devices weigh less than half a pound and are about the size of a PDA. The system immediately tells the small unit leader where a shot or multiple shots were fired from, and can deliver that information to others in the field. In one recent test performed by US Joint Forces Command, for example, ShotSpotter sensors successfully located weapons fire and immediately transmitted that information to an unmanned flying vehicle (UAV), such as the Scan Eagle or Predator, thereby providing friendly forces video of the shooter.
Layer 2: Vehicle-mounted
A second layer of protection is provided by Shot Spotter designed specifically for convoy and/or vehicle protection, whether on the move or stationary. These sensors are capable of locating a solo vehicle detect sniper fire. The system works seamlessly with both soldier-worn systems and fixed, installed sensors, so that as the convoy moves, the vehicle-mounted sensors blend in with other grids. These sensors, too, can be integrated with cameras mounted on the vehicles and aimed at the direction of enemy fire or used in concert with UAVs for aerial visual of the direction of fire.
Layer 3: Fixed installations
A third layer, for deployment around temporary or fixed locations consists of a rapid-deployment wireless version of the time-tested ShotSpotter Gunshot Location System that has been deployed in cities across the US for the past several years. Sensors can be quickly and easily installed on walls, posts and rooftops to form a complete grid that detects and locates gunfire and instantly relays that information to a visual display. The ShotSpotter technology is proven in difficult urban environments, and can be taken down and re-deployed as needed.
For more information about ShotSpotter Military solutions, contact:
Sales Office – Military Systems
Tel: 1-888-274-6877 x210
“Sniper Coordination Systems (SCS) provide improved planning and employment of snipers, as well as more effective monitoring of these assets. The system offers image transfer capability in real time, to monitor the line of sights of multiple snipers and verify individual targets for each shooter. Advanced systems also enable effective monitoring of targets around the corners, and actually firing around the corner, using a the use of weapon’s mounted camera, coupled via wireless link to an eyepiece or wrist mounted display.
The SCS utilizes a lightweight image splitter attached to the sniper rifle’s sight, and a wireless transmitter which sends the sight image in real time to the command post, where up to six different snipers can be supervised simultaneously. The images can also be sent to other elements in the field, viewed on wrist mounted display or on PDAs carried by the troops”