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Volume 19 Articles

Raytheon ELCAN Optical Technologies logo Sight. Range. Target. Engage...
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ELCAN introduces digital fire control to the world of small arms

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ELCAN Specter® DR 1-4x dual role weapon sight. © Raytheon ELCAN
ELCAN Specter® DR 1-4x dual role weapon sight. © Raytheon ELCAN

The use of optics on individual weapon systems has become common place for most allied Armies. For most NATO forces, magnified and non-magnified optics have been issued for both assault rifles and light machine guns for the better part of two decades.

In 2003, US SOCOM issued a challenge to industry. The key technological objective was to provide “not only a long-range deliberate aiming capability, but also a short-range, positive, rapid aiming capability for close quarters battle – in a single sight”. This requirement was based on changing battlefield requirements due to an increase in urban combat.

The Raytheon ELCAN product development team developed an easy-to-use, patented switch lever mechanism that allows the shooter to switch instantly from 1x unity magnification for close quarters engagement to 4x magnification for longer range targeting. The sight maintains boresight and sight picture reducing the risk associated with switching optics in a changing environment.

The Specter® DR 1-4x dual field-of-view optical weapon sight was initially fielded in 2006 with US SOCOM as part of the SOPKID Kit. Since then, the Specter DR has been chosen by allied forces around the globe, most recently as part of the Land 125 program in Australia. Dismounted soldiers no longer have to choose rifle setups for defeating targets close in or far out. The Specter DR provides a flexible solution to facilitate operations in any environment.

Gen I ELCAN Specter DFCS digital fire control system. © Raytheon ELCAN
Gen I ELCAN Specter DFCS digital fire control system. © Raytheon ELCAN

The ELCAN Specter DR dual field of view weapon sight transformed the battlespace.

The Specter OS 4x was released in 2009 as the UK Future Integrated Soldier Technology program lightweight day sight – designated FIST LDS. This sight is an incremental innovation taking the proven high precision optics and mechanics of the Specter DR to provide a lighter fixed magnification sight to meet requirements for the FIST program.

While optical weapon systems will continue to be necessary and effective, the question we need to be asking is “What’s next?”, “What is the next product that will give the dismounted soldier an edge on the battlefield in the same way the FIST LDS and Specter DR have?”

There’s little room for error on the battlefield. So Raytheon ELCAN is developing a next-generation digital fire control to add to its line of battle tested ELCAN rifle sights to help soldiers increase accuracy and speed of engagement.

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.

Photo: © Raytheon ELCAN.
Photo: © Raytheon ELCAN

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.

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.”

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