U.S. Army Eyeing Ballistic Computer Scope Tech

Picatinny Arsenal is currently conducting trials and experiments on a prototype system named the “Ballistically Optimized Sniper Scope” (BOSS). Essentially it is the Army’s entry into what Barrett has been accomplishing with the BORS for a number of years, or a number of similar digitally optimized and guided scopes that many precision rifle/scope companies in the industry are pushing for. The Army’s variant appears to be attached to a Leupold Mark 4 6.5–20×50mm ER/T M5A2 (standard issue for the Remington XM 2010, pictured is a KAC M110 instead).

The article points out that ammunition and rifle design have reached somewhat of a plateau when it comes to what is being fielded and making an actual difference downrange. Working on a common issue ballistics calculator for Army snipers could help push that envelope in ways that budget minded rifle and ammunition program couldn’t. In addition the article mentions that the capabilities of the device far exceed that actual capabilities of the rifles they are on when it comes to range. One of the essential mission sets for any sniper team is the ability to conduct Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR). Being able to accurately and precisely lase a distance, determine azimuth, and identify enemy forces at extreme distances is apart of that ISR capability. So even if a Sniper team can’t engage enemy forces, the team can call in accurate artillery or close air support assets in.

With that being said, my opinion is that as long as the additional weight and bulk of this system serves to replace existing heavier and bulkier range estimation equipment, the trade-off might actually be worthwhile.



Miles

Infantry Marine, based in the Midwest. Specifically interested in small arms history, development, and usage within the MENA region and Central Asia. To that end, I run Silah Report, a website dedicated to analyzing small arms history and news out of MENA and Central Asia. You can also follow us on Twitter- @Silah_Report

Please feel free to get in touch with me about something I can add to a post, an error I’ve made, or if you just want to talk guns. I can be reached at miles@tfb.tv


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  • Major Tom

    Could it also calculate trajectory, drop, target lead, wind drift, spin drift and other myriad factors?

    • Audie Bakerson

      A phone can do that. The hardest part is still getting half the data as (current) instruments couldn’t possibly measure wind speeds half a mile away.

      • Keiichi

        Still waiting for the comprehensive mirage analysis software…

      • 2805662

        Current instruments can. Google ‘wind sense’…

    • El Duderino

      Heck the circa 1980 gunnery computer in an Abrams can do all that. Granted, the sensors and LRF are juuuuust a bit bigger than what’s on top of that M110.

  • TheNotoriousIUD
  • Keiichi

    FYI, there’s a redundant “in” at the end of the second to last paragraph.

  • LGonDISQUS

    Sounds like the army may have been better off buyig Trackingpoint when they went bankrupt rather than starting from the ground up?

    • yodamiles

      Yeah, imagine how much money they would save if they went out for off the shelf commercial product rather than reinventing the wheel at 4 times the cost.

      • LGonDISQUS

        Please ignore me if I am wrong, but was this sarcasm? Sometimes it is tough to tell on the internet (and I’m very tired).

        • yodamiles

          No, I agree with your point totally.

      • GD Ajax

        But the morons at PEO Soldier need their 7500 dollars a month paycheck and claim they did all the work instead of those nancy boys at DARPA finding it for them.

    • CommonSense23

      Except tracking point was a gimmick, and DARPA has a far better system that can actually read the wind the entire distance to the target.

      • Wow!

        Wait, it reads the wind at all points? How is it doing that? By mirage? Generally ballistic computers only read wind at your location. If it can summarize the effects of the total downrange wind, that is worth carrying just as a stand alone.

        • CommonSense23

          The guys who designed it realized the tech had already been developed for that anti ballistic missile 747 laser and just put it on a rifle with the advance in electronics in the last decade. It works. Now the question being asked is it worth putting in the field with a large risk of it getting out for making a 2000 yard shot with ease which a guided missile like the switchblade is cheaper and doesn’t give the possibility of giving away to a major power the advanced system.

    • cwolf

      Tracking Point appears to still be in business.

      Rumor has it that USAIS doesn’t like the way TP configured their system.

  • GhostTrain81

    In before, “useless or still need irons becoz EMP”

    • Blake

      I think this development is really exciting. But your comment did make me think of something. Considering just how long it’s been since a “total” warfare type of war and just how many pieces of military tech rely on other pieces of tech to operate, I wonder just how crippled our military would be in a total war. I’d imagine GPS satellites would be a quick target, as would a lot of radar facilities and stuff like that. I wonder just how much someone could damage our ability to keep our most high-tech stuff running.

      • iggy

        Your military would be gone in a total war. Barring something entirely unanticipated, nuclear weapons make the possibility of another total war completely impossible.

        • Major Tom

          The same was said of the capabilities both political and military concerning battleships, disarmament treaties, military/political alliances, economic ties and more a century ago. Total war can’t/won’t happen (again).

          It didn’t last. The next total war is a question of when, not if.

          • Jason Culligan

            The difference is a Battleship cannot wipe out New York in a single shot and there wasn’t thousands of them. At the height of the Battleship period there was probably no more than 200 in service (with many being old and outdated to some degree) while today, even with disarmament treaties, there are thousands of nuclear weapons.

        • Blake

          I highly doubt it. Unless someone massively unstable like Trump presses the button, people aren’t stupid enough to do something that guarantees both sides complete annihilation instead of having a typical war.

      • Marcus D.

        GPS satellites can’t be reached with typical military rockets, as they orbit at roughly 12,500 miles up. Orbital military weapons are currently banned by international treaty, and I think that this covers orbital satellite killers as well. Instead, the typical scenario calls for an EMP attack to disable the receivers. (This not to say that such devices do not exist. The Chinese have developed such a device, and the American semi-secret XB-37B is rumored to have such capability.)

        The problem is that most critical military hardware is hardened against EMP attacks, and what isn’t is as vulnerable for the attacker as it is for the defender. Rifles, mortars, and artillery are not vulnerable to EMP attacks, and tanks are hardened. So you end up slugging it out on the battle field, or ending it all in a giant orgy of nuclear destruction.

        • jcitizen

          Our US Navy already destroyed a low earth orbit satellite that went haywire. This was just with an on board missile system!

          You can bet the Russians a Chinese have these in reserve, just in case. But unless they train there own troops on how to land and sea navigate by the old ancient methods, they would be shooting themselves in the foot as well.

          • Marcus D.

            A low Earth orbit (LEO) is an orbit around Earth with an altitude between 160 kilometers (99 mi) (orbital period of about 88 minutes), and 2,000 kilometers (1,200 mi) (about 127 minutes). It takes a pretty big rocket to get to 12,500 miles up.

          • jcitizen

            I think this one was so low, it was going to burn up soon, so they decided it was better to blow it up sooner than have an uncontrolled re-entry, and who knows where it might land, if anything was left, that is.

            As far as space based anti-satellite plans go, they would be using land based rockets plenty big enough to bash even a satellite in the Clark Belt.

    • TimRoy

      “BOSS also provides fail-safe sniper operations in case its power source or electronics fail.”
      From the original article…

  • Cutekitten

    Scope looks like USO, not leupy.

  • B-Sabre

    I spy with my little eye….

  • John

    Well, pulling the trigger on a weapon is ruining someone’s day, somewhere and sometime. That’s why you wait for the computers to give you a firing solution.

  • Ron

    When DARPA perfects their wind reading laser these sights will become standard for rifleman in the military

    • El Duderino

      Uh, maybe when they’re about 1/5th the size of what’s in the article. And won’t do too much good on an M4, IMO.

    • cwolf

      There are a variety of scopes now that will do range and auto-adjust the aim point. Agree that range estimation is a big issue at longer distances, especially in mountains.

      Agree that wind is a large, complex issue at long ranges. Which is why snipers have spotters.

      The most common issue is moving targets. Most places don’t train moving targets in basic rifle. Guessing target speed and lead is tough. Nikon has predictive focus in cameras, so my really stupid guess is it might be possible in a scope.

      The main beneficiaries of these high tech scopes are the SDM and snipers. Although my opinion is we need a low recoil .50, too.