This is my rifle. There are many like it, but this one is on the network.
That may soon be the new opening line of the legendary “Rifleman’s Creed,” if the Canadian-based subsidiaries of General Dynamics Corp. and Colt Defense LLC have their way.
The companies plan to unveil a revolutionary “Android-networked rifle” at a defense expo taking place this week in Ottawa. Colt had offered U.S. customers a peek at the technology earlier this year at the AUSA Conference in Washington, D.C.
Known as SWORD (Sniper Weapon & Observer Reconnaissance Devices), the rifle system integrates today’s advanced military rifle scopes and laser range finders with ruggedized smartphones and tablets. The goal is to replace bulky radio systems by integrating situation awareness and communications and technologies directly through the soldier’s rifle — the most important piece of equipment on the battlefield.
“SWORD makes sense as an integrated soldier system,” said Jeff MacLeod, general manager at Colt Canada. “By combining modern smartphone technology with weapon-mounted scopes and laser rangefinders, soldiers have all the information they need, literally at their fingertips. SWORD is not about simply delivering a computer or a display to soldiers. It delivers an entirely new capability centered on the rifle.”
An Android smartphone is attached to the rifle and integrated with the rifle’s scope, as well as a tablet system used by a spotter. The phone would display a multitude of data to the shooter, including the location of friendly forces and mapping data, and would enable the spotter to mark targets that would immediately appear in the shooter’s smartphone system and optics.
In addition, the networked system would allow the soldiers to tap into battle management applications and upload still photos of targets to other users on the network, either commanders or other shooters.
The system is based on commercial off-the-shelf components, and provides power, data and navigation infrastructure within the weapon, including Global Positioning System data and inertial navigation as a backup.
David Ibbetson, vice president of General Dynamics C4 Systems International, said the overall system is the result of a unique collaboration between GD and Colt.
“Colt has worldwide expertise in developing and delivering rifles, while General Dynamics has the networking experience needed to connect individual soldiers,” Ibbetson said. “The combined solution gives soldiers the smartphone capability they have been asking for in the form of an Android-networked rifle.”