Military.com tried out the SMASH system at the SHOT Show 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Smart Shooter teamed up with Sig Sauer to compete in the Army’s Next Generation Squad Weapon Fire Control program. NGSW-FC’s goal is to field a smart optic to go on the service’s Next-Generation Squad Weapon (NGSW). NGSW will choose a new 6.8-millimeter assault rifle and squad automatic weapon to replace the Army’s M4 carbine and M249 squad automatic weapon.
Current U.S. Army carbines and squad automatic weapons use a variety of red dot or other sights that project a reticle or crosshairs on target. The soldier must still line up the sights with the target while computing ballistic drop and the effects of wind on bullet flight.
All of this is a lot to compute, especially in combat. Fortunately the problem was solved in the 1970s when ballistic computers on main battle tanks became smart enough to automatically calculate this information. This revolutionized tank gun accuracy, making tanks accurate even on the move. Thanks to Moore’s Law, those computers have finally become small enough to mount on a rifle.
SMASH’s system incorporates night vision, magnification, and target detection and tracking. According to Military.com, the system uses a sight that clips above the barrel and a special pistol grip. Pressing a button next to the grip automatically detects possible targets, projecting red boxes around them in the sight’s field of view. The shooter then depresses the trigger and holds it down. The weapon will fire when the barrel is properly aligned with the target, causing a “guaranteed hit.” The auto tracker system can be disabled for other types of shooting.
The Army is testing a number of fire control systems as part of NGSW-FC, and plans to field the first new carbines and squad automatic weapons to combat units in 2023.