Every soldier a sharpshooter

Rifle sights go digital for faster, farther engagement

There's little room for error on the battlefield.

Technology has driven development and improved performance for every platform used on the battlefield. Now, we are seeing the same type of evolution take place in individual, man-portable weapon systems. To meet this need, Raytheon ELCAN is developing a digital fire control rifle sight to help soldiers hit their mark consistently at distances greater than 1,000 meters – even when firing from behind cover or traversing hills. 

Here's how it works: An integrated laser rangefinder sends out a pulse to measure the distance to the target. Customized software and a ballistic module then tells the shooter precisely where to aim. It happens in a matter of seconds.

“It takes all the variables designated marksmen have to consider and does it for them,” said Dan Pettry, a former sniper for the U.S. Army Rangers and now a Raytheon ELCAN rifle sights product manager.

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. ELCAN’s Specter Digital Fire Control Sight, or DFCS, puts this power and control into a man-portable sight for assault rifles and machine guns that functions even in a canted, or tilted, position. Using customized software and a combat-proven ballistic computer chip, the sight calculates a corrected aim-point taking ballistics, distance, humidity, temperature and atmospheric pressure into account. These calculations can be done for multiple calibers of ammunition, including less common rounds used by militaries around the world.

“Ballistics and atmospheric conditions become larger factors at greater distances,” Pettry said. “Doing this accurately takes time – time you don’t always have on the battlefield. This sight has it all built right in, which makes it quicker.”

The DFCS sight combines an 8x direct view zoom optic, ballistic compensated disturbed reticle and boresighted laser range finder into a single rugged, user-friendly package extending the range of engagement and ability to range targets out more than 1,000 meters.

“This all makes the shooter more accurate in less time. The sight allows the gunner to put the first burst on target rather than sighting from splash,” said Pettry. “Being more accurate keeps the soldier safer.”

Raytheon ELCAN is developing the sight for several military customers around the world. The company has manufactured prototypes that have undergone field testing and are now ready for demonstration in operational environments. The sight is Canadian designed and developed technology, and it is free of U.S. export restrictions.

“In military testing, [the sight] has been subjected to recoil, drop tests and environmental testing on ARs, light and medium machine guns,” said Mike Lewis, mission area lead for ELCAN rifle sights. “The sight has proven it’s rugged and reliable. It’s earned the name ELCAN Specter.”

“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.”