War-porn for the week – smart bullets

Paul Raven @ 15-04-2009

sniperRegardless of your opinion about the Somalian pirate situation, if you’ve a jones for high-tech weaponry you’ll have been enjoying the brief flurry of military hardware reportage that emerged in the wake of the kidnapping rescue mission.

Wired has the low-down on how much more awesome the armed forces might be once DARPA has churned through a bit more R&D work:

Already, we’ve seen Navy SEAL shooters take out three pirates with three trigger-pulls — despite uneven seas and bobbing ships. Imagine how much easier the snipers’ jobs would have been, if they had rounds that could change course in mid-air, to account for crosswinds, air density, and moving targets. Darpa, the Defense Department’s way-out research arm, launched a $22 million effort in November to do just that. By countering these “fundamental limitation[s] of accuracy,” Darpa thinks it can dramatically improve American snipers’ range — and “provide a dramatic new capability to the U.S. military.”

Dramatic? Not the ideal choice of word, perhaps. Surely it would be more dramatic for the sniper to miss with every bullet but his last? But I digress – there’s more to come:

A companion project, Super-Resolution Vision System (SRVS), wouldn’t just make snipers more accurate. It would make them functionally invisible, as well. The system is trying to use “heat haze” — that shimmer you see on summer days, out in the distance — for helping snipers, instead of inhibiting them. In any given instant, the heated air acts as a series of lenses; you may be able to look right through them and see a magnified view of the scene beyond. The trick is to use digital technology to identify the “lucky regions” or “lucky frames” when a clear view appears and assemble them into a complete picture. SRVS researchers are aiming to do just that.

It’s always a relief to know that, even in the depths of a global economic slump, we’re still working hard at finding new and inventive ways to kill one another. [image by mateus27_24-25]