I was recently a part of a beta test group for the MDR192 Military Digital Rifle. This new weapon is a cross between a video game and a cannon. In its prototype form, it begins as a modified Barrett M82, 50 cal. sniper rifle in a bullpup configuration. This SASR (Special Applications Scoped Rifle) uses an improved version of the moving recoil barrel and muzzle mounted recoil deflector to reduce recoil while improving the ability to reacquire the sight picture.
A further modification consists of a small box attached to the monopod socket of the rear shoulder rest and another small box attached to the underside of the fore stock where the detachable bipod would normally be attached. Inside these two boxes is an intricate mix of servos, gyros and electronics. There is a quick-mount connection between these boxes and two motorized and articulated tripods that fully support the rifle at any predetermined height and angle. These boxes are extensions of the Barrett BORS ballistic computer that integrate optical ranging with digital and computer interpolated capabilities.
The sight has been replaced with very sophisticated video camera with superior optics. The sights camera feed and the two control boxes are then connected to another small box that sits beside the rifle with a radio digital transceiver that uses frequency hopping to avoid jamming and detection.
The system is not done yet. There are at least two additional video camera sights (VCS) that are placed at some distance from the rifle on their own motorized and articulated tripods. Up to 6 scopes can be used with this system and they can be placed to completely surround the target area at distances up to 4,000 yards. This gives a target circle up to 8,000 yards in diameter or about 3.4 miles. The rifle mounted sight and the multiple VCSs all have night vision capabilities and can switch to infrared imaging.
The MDR192 shoots a modified M82 50 cal round that uses depleted uranium for weight and an oversized action and barrel to withstand the more powerful gunpowder used to push the 12.7x99mm bullet up to 3,977 fps out the 62 inch barrel. The rated effective range is 8,290 feet with a maximum range of 29,750 feet; however, this cartridge is lethal out to 24,000 feet.
The perimeter video camera sights (VCS) and the one on the MDR192 are all fed into a laptop computer that communicates with all of them by a wireless network. The shooter can be located as far away as 500 feet from the rifle. The computer is on his backpack. He wears a pair of video goggles that gives him a 3-D image of the target area and using the depth of filed, interpolation and imagery of the multiple VCSs, he can move his point of view to any position in the target zone that can be seen by or interpolated by the VCSs and computer. This includes the real time position of moving human targets.
Using an arm mounted control panel, which includes a button joystick, he can move a tiny red dot around on the screen of his goggles. This red dot represents the impact point of the MDR192s bullet. The computer will fade the red dot to a yellow one if the bullet must penetrate something before hitting the designated target and it fades to blue when it is unlikely that the bullet can penetrate to the target.
The 20 round clip is loaded with Raufoss Mk 211 mod 5 round which is called a multipurpose projectile having the depleted uranium core for armor-piercing, an explosive and incendiary component giving it the HEIAP qualification but these modified rounds also have an adaptive trajectory using one or more of 5 small jets on the boat-tail of the bullet. These tiny jets do not propel the bullet but rather steer it by injecting air pressure into the slipstream of laminar airflow around the moving bullet. The gain is the ability to steer the bullet into as much as a 22-degree curve in 2 dimensions. Given the high explosive aspects of the bullet, hitting within 6 feet of a human would be lethal.
The shooters target dot placement controls a laser pointer on each of the VCSs and the rifle in order to place the hit point on anything that can be hit or killed. The actual laser dot that the shooter sees in his goggles is not actually projected from the VCSs but rather is created artificially inside the digital camera as if the shooter was placing it. This gives the advantage of placing a designated hit spot onto a target that is not actually visible but within the capabilities of the rifle to hit using its penetration, explosive or bullet bending capabilities.
There is, however, a laser and ultrasonic acoustic emission from each of the VCSs that allow for the precise determination of the air movements in the target zone. This includes measures of air density, humidity, movement, elevation, etc. This data is automatically fed into the computer to correct the rifle aim point to compensate for these parameters.
Once the VCSs are set up and the rifle is mounted on its computerized tripods, the shooter can move away from the rifles location and activate the wireless connection to all the scopes and tripods. The shooter has the ability to move the tripods up and down and left and right. The rifles tripods can actually relocate the rifle by walking the weapon across the ground to reposition it, recover from recoil or to hide it.
The computer is preprogrammed with the full capabilities of the rifle and its ammo so that it will give an accurate and very precise aiming of the weapon based on the dot target and the guns capabilities. This means that it has been programmed with the exact bullet trajectory so that it can accurately aim and him targets at the extreme range of the bullets out to 24,000 feet (4.5 miles). The computer uses this data plus the corrections for air movements and the capabilities of the weapon with respect to kill radius, bullet bending and penetration to accurately aim the rifle to hit the point that the shooter has designated.
The MDR192 passed its beta testing. My part in the testing was to work on just the trajectory aspects of the computer programming since I had a hand in the original M82 testing to create the adjustable trajectory optical sight that is used on that weapon. Since I was working with the weapons accuracy, I was privy to all of the tests and results. The official word has not come back yet but from what I observed, it passed its tests with flying colors. At just over $15,000 each with three VCSs, this will be a weapon that will be deployed to Afghanistan within the next year.
Modifications that are already being alpha tested include digital timed projectiles similar to the XM25 smart bullets. This will allow for increased reach into protected locations. They are also developing an add-on to the VCSs that will sense RF emissions and portray them on the shooters 3-D goggles as shades of colors. This will allow the pinpointing of cell phones, radios, transmitters, etc. A third modification is the use of advanced shotgun microphones to pinpoint acoustic emissions. This will be integrated into existing inputs to refine and improve target locations.
As the inventor of the microencapsulated tags (METs), I was asked to create an interface with the MDR192 and METs. Once this is done, camouflage of any kind will be completely obsolete and it opens the door for all kinds of possibilities. For instance, a completely automatic sniper rifle that can autonomously fire at targets that have been precisely verified as enemy combatants. It can prioritize targets by their threat level. METs also allow the use of Exacto rounds (Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordnance) currently being developed by Teledyne. Currently laser guided bullets are the focus of the guided bullet program but using METs, the bullet could be guided by the target no matter how the target moves. My computer modeling is almost done and I will be turning over my finding to DARPA by the end of Sept. I suspect they will move on it quickly as they have earmarked $10 million to develop a guided bullet.