Raytheon ELCAN positions for SOF need
Raytheon ELCAN Optical Technologies is moving forward on iterative prototypes for a new digital fire control system. The prototype design integrates an optical sight with rangefinder and the capability to present the shooter with tactical data – factoring range and a growing set of environmental conditions – within the sight.
Shephard received a private glimpse of the latest design during the recent Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC), in Tampa, Florida.
According to Dan Pettry, a marketing manager who previously served with the US Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment, the new digital fire control system design meets both identified and anticipated needs for both the special operations community and broader military organizations, with the 1-8X zoom on the current prototype most likely directed towards assault rifle and light machinegun applications.
“Whether people like it or not, digital [fire control] is the direction that everyone is going in,” Pettry explained. “No matter where you go in the world, everybody is talking digital. Even though there are places in the world where they might not have basic optics, people know that the capabilities are out there.”
He added that digital fire control “allows the shooter to engage the target without having to think too much about it,” adding, “The sight is now doing the work for you. All you have to worry about in the process are your shooting fundamentals.”
Pettry said that work on the digital fire control system began “about two years ago” with an initial prototype design less than a year later and continuing evolution to today.
“As the requirement becomes clearer, not only are we trying to get better at those particular requirements, but we’re also improving the design itself,” he said. “In fact, the finished product won’t look anything like this prototype. For example, we’ve already purchased a laser rangefinder that is one-third the size, one-third the weight, and just as effective as the one used here.”
Other identified changes in the evolving prototype process included windage and elevation adjustment design, improved optical quality and improved durability.
“We can hardly keep up with ourselves as it’s going,” he noted. “The requirements of what people want are moving so fast and then we find that technology changes allow us to do things even better.”
He added that the most important part of the prototype process was in “perfecting the concept” of providing the shooter with an accurate ballistic solution.
“The ultimate goal is that when the requirement hits we’re ready to go,” he said.