That innocent white thread snaking towards the center of the picture is the trail of light left by a guided bullet. Developed by Lockheed Martin each round is four inches long with an optic sensor on its nose. The bullets are steered by fins, auto-correcting at a rate of 30 times per second, while they travel at twice the speed of sound.
Pull the trigger, and it will follow a laser beam to its target, no matter what. When British Army sniper Corporal Craig Harrison, shot two Taliban operatives from a mile-and-a-half away under perfect conditions, it was record breaking stuff.
One day, these bullets will make that seem academic.
If that’s not enough for you, a company called Trackingpoint has is preparing to launch it’s line of Precision Guided Firearms. For 17 grand you can get a bolt action rifle that is affixed with something straight out of the Star Wars. It’s a scope, powered by a Linux computer, and it wants to be your wingman.
First, it tells you the weather conditions and wind speed; all of those things that snipers and hunters need to know, and can already find out from countless other products on the market.
The coolness kicks in the moment you put your target in the crosshairs and push a button. It will track the animal, head of state, alien invader. If they go outside of your field of vision, the scope will point the way, just like the easy setting on Chuck Yeager Air Combat. (There are probably better analogies, but that was the first thing that came to mind. I don’t play many games.) And you can’t pull the trigger until you line up the crosshairs with the original target area.
It all seems pretty frustrating to me, like the nanny controls on your average super car. It seems like, if you are just an average shooter, you might never line up your scope with that first target area. And if you are a marksman, you don’t need it anyway.
But it looks cool, and in a couple of years, when they have hacked them down in size and price, and connected them to a pair of Google Glasses, I might get it, or whatever the Chinese knockoff is called.
Put that with the guided bullet (I’ll bet someone already has) and you have the technology to turn your average schlub into a stone cold assasin. Or, your average sniper (is there such a thing as an average sniper?) into a modern day super hero/villian.
It’s all very cool, in a bow down to your dystopian overlord kind of way.
I wrote about an extreme sniper competition some time back. Those guys wouldn’t be caught dead with this stuff.