Advanced Weapon Sights – Senop’s development and design philosophy

Development principles of small arms and support weapons advanced sights

New technology is only a tool for improving soldier’s performance, not beatifying by itself. It is important to focus on soldier’s needs, stay level-headed and keep the focus in right issues. That is why we pay close attention to the usability and ergonomics of our products.

It is definite, that smart weapon sights will become more common in the future in assault rifles, designated marksman rifles and support weapons. Maturity of technology, weight, volume, ergonomics, and price are critical from the end-user’s point of view. Even if smart sights will become more common, the existing optical sights/holographic sights, laser sights and night sights will remain in operational use also in the future. Large land forces cannot afford to procure latest technology for every soldier.

We have studied F2T2EA kill chain. If your day and night optics are not good enough for you to be able to see (detect, recognise, identify) the adversary first, you will most likely lose the engagement. That’s why we focus on high quality optics. The importance of first round hit probability is essential. Automated ballistic calculation helps soldiers to engage the target fast and accurate.

We believe that the future intelligent sighting systems should be simple to use, light and robust enough to stand the heavy stress in military environments. Image performance and energy consumption are also key requirements for advanced sights.

It is important for us, as industry representatives, to understand that even the best high-tech device doesn’t guarantee soldiers success, if the used equipment is difficult to use. So, we must study carefully what features are really needed to keep the system/device simple enough to learn and use effectively.

Senop’s offering to increase aiming capabilities for infantry with advanced weapon sights

At the moment Senop has two intelligent/advanced sights, FCTS and AFCD, which are designed to improve soldier’s and infantry squad’s performances. The basis for both systems is to offer high-class day/night vision and ease the soldier’s mental and physical burden by automating ballistic calculation.

FCTS (Fire Control Thermal Sight) is a smart weapon sight with integrated uncooled thermal imager, eyesafe laser range finder (LRF), global positioning system (GPS), inertial measurement unit (IMU) and ballistic computer. Digital magnetic compass (DMC), Bluetooth and laser pointer are available for the sight as well. It takes a single push of a button to rapidly calculate the aiming reticle by using distance, ammunition’s ballistic tables, temperature, and internally measured terrain angle. Smart 40 mm airburst ammunitions can be also programmed via FCTS.

FCTS can be used with a wide range of applications including heavy machine guns and automatic grenade launchers. It can be easily integrated as a part of remote weapon stations and reconnaissance and observation systems. External display helps operators to modify a comfortable firing position. The operator can transfer still or video images and receive BMS information via FCTS.

Senop AFCD TI (Advanced Fire Control Device, Thermal imager) is our newest intelligent weapon sight. It is designed for shoulder launched Carl-Gustaf antitank, multi-purpose weapon system. The AFCD has an integrated uncooled thermal Imager, day camera, eyesafe Laser Range Finder, Inertial Measurement Unit and Ballistic Computer with necessary environmental sensors (ambient temperature, barometric pressure). AFCD TI enables the operator to use day image, thermal-image or fusion image depending on the conditions it is used in.

The Senop AFCD TI calculates the aiming point (crosshair) by using following parameters from the sight and the weapon:

  • Ammunition type
  • Target Range
  • Ambient temperature
  • Barometric pressure
  • Terrain and cant angle
  • Propellant temperature
  • Angular rate (Lead angle calculation)

Firing sequence with the AFCD is easy. First, the operator places the measuring dot/reticle on the target COG and holds down the measuring button. If the target is stationary; operator releases the measuring button and immediately gets the aiming reticle with the right elevation. If the target is moving; operator follows the target 2 to 4 seconds measuring button pressed down. Aiming reticle (with precise elevation and lead angle) and distance to the target is displayed after the measuring button is released. Then the operator engages the target by placing the aiming reticle in the center of the target and fires the weapon.

Future of infantry weapon sights/Fire Control Systems – their benefits and advantages

Challenges are meant to be overcome. To develop effective sighting system, we have been focusing on the factors which are important for the end-users. To be able to operate the system smoothly and get to the firing position fast enough, the system must be light, small and simple. We have succeeded in our AFCD development because the sight weights less than 1,5kg, it has both day and thermal channels integrated in the device, and by pressing one button the operator gets a predicted aiming point. The optics and the image quality must be high-class. It is important for the soldier to find and fix the target first to be able to win the duel.

We are exploring and studying smaller intelligent sights suitable for light weapons and support weapons. We have the optical know-how and technology knowledge in the house. The basic idea is to use our existing technology and smaller detectors, optical components, and tailored programming for ballistic calculation for the family of small intelligent sights.

Technology and components are improving all the time. It’s obvious that civilian components are used more and more in military systems in the future. That effects the weight and volume but also the price level of equipment. The main issue is that we must make sure that those components are ruggedized enough to withstand rough treatment. Energy management is important, especially in the arctic regions with long and cold winter seasons. We are focused in this area and can increase operating hours of our devices in extreme conditions.

We design and develop our devices as modular as possible as well. Modular design enables us to support our customers by updating new efficient components, sub systems and software updates during the life cycle of the device. That is cost-effective way to increase the operational life cycle of the systems.

From the design point of view, the most challenging aspects are environmental factors and recoil. The device must stand not only extreme temperatures, dust and dirt and humidity but also the heavy recoil of the weapon systems in harsh environments. Weapon systems like the CG/M4 are often regarded as recoilless weapons and for the user they certainly are. But when designing fine mechanics and optronics, the force the devices must endure is significant. This raises the requirements for a device very high and designing a safe and durable sight that also fulfills all MIL standards is a challenge.