DARPA's Super Sniper Scope Is the World's Deadliest Range-Finder

Snipers are among the most valuable assets a military can deploy in battle and have become a pillar of modern US counterinsurgency tactics. While mile-and-a-half-long shots are possible, they're not all that common. But with DARPA's new One Shot XG scope system, any ol' Killroy will be able to accurately fire an M24 up to a mile.

Due to the covert nature of their missions, sniper teams typically have just a single opportunity to engage a target—so accuracy is paramount. Hence the "one shot, one kill" mantra. Sniper cells operate as two-man teams—the sniper himself and a spotter, who is responsible for monitoring weather conditions that might affect the shot and calculating shot corrections. Problem is, the farther away the target is, the greater the number and intensity of these deviations will be. And all these corrections will need to be calculated like five seconds ago or else that one shot will fail.

"The No. 1 error among our snipers is not being able to accurately measure downrange cross wind profile between the shooter and the target," Steve Sampson, vice president of Advanced Programs for Cubic Defense Applications, said in a press statement. That's why DARPA awarded a $6 million contract to the Cubic Corporation in 2007 to develop the One Shot XG.

This rail mounted system incorporates a laser rangefinder that measures the speed of downfield crosswinds, distance to the target, atmospheric conditions, and other variables. It then calculates any necessary corrections and displays ballistic aim point offsets in the rifle's scope. Shooters simply need to line up their sights with what the system is displaying and boom: head shot.

While field testing likely won't begin until the end of 2013, preliminary tests have illsutrated the system's promise. Shooters employing the One Shot improved their first hit probability by 400 percent and reduced the number of shots they had to take to get that first hit by 230 percent—all while spending 35-percent less time lining up the shots. In other words, this single innovation has the potential to make our snipers four times as deadly, 2.3 times more efficient, and a third quicker.

The entire system weighs 1.4 kg and operates equally well day or night, and it can even be used by a solo sniper. That's not to say that spotters are no longer needed—far from it, spotters perform a host of other vital duties while the sniper's staring down his sights—but the inclusion of a One Shot will make these teams even more efficient and reduce the need to deploy regular infantry.

[Defence Update - DARPA - BI - Cubic - Wired - FBO - Image: US Army]