Lithgow Factory Is Building A Smart Targeting Rifle
The Lithgow factory has released information to the Australian newspaper about their latest digital rifle that will make the average marksmen deadly accurate.
The "Future Soldier Weapon System" claims to list soldiers first shot accuracy by a staggering 400%.
The Lithgow factory Opened on 8 June 1912, the factory initially manufactured SMLE III rifles for the Australian military during World War I. During World War II, production expanded to include Vickers machine guns, Bren guns and, postwar, branched out into sporting goods (including civilian firearms).
The Australian reported the Future Soldier Weapon System (pictured above), it uses a computerised sight and automated firing technology to identify targets and overcome human error, making average marksmen experts.
It is also a “networked” weapon, allowing Diggers to see enemy combatants identified by other soldiers, and giving commanders the ability to assign targets to specific members of a unit.
The FSWS is the product of a five-year research and development program at the Thales-owned Lithgow Arms.
The Australian was given a preview of the weapon ahead of the release of a new history of the Lithgow-made Austeyr rifle, standard issue for Australian soldiers for the past 30 years.
The new digital rifle is being designed as a next-generation weapon for Diggers, but Thales hopes to export it to friendly nations.
“This is the most significant change in small-arms technology since the introduction of the cartridge case,” said Thales Australia chief executive Chris Jenkins. “It’s not technology for technology’s sake — it’s technology to deliver a huge uplift in effectiveness on the battlefield for Australian soldiers. And that’s a lifesaving effect.”
The Lithgow Small Arms Factory, 150km west of Sydney, opened its doors in 1912, supplying more than 100,000 Lee-Enfield .303s to Australia’s World War I Diggers. It produced Vickers and Bren machine guns in World War II, the L1A1 SLR used by Australians in Vietnam, and the army’s current rifles, the Austrian-designed Austeyr F88, and its successor, the EF88.
But the new project is unlike anything that preceded it. The rifle’s sensor suite and targeting algorithm can recognise human and non-human targets, such as drones, and enable a soldier to see better in all weather conditions.
The system fires the rifle at the optimum moment after a target is selected and the trigger pulled to achieve a “kill shot”.
If the system fails for any reason, it reverts to being a “dumb” weapon that operates like any other rifle.
Thales expects the futuristic weapon to be ready for sale within five years, coinciding with the Australian Defence Force’s assault rifle replacement procurement in 2024-25.
The sighting and automated firing system has already shown dramatic results, lifting the probability of a soldier’s first round being a hit from 20 per cent to 80 per cent with minimal training, but the completed rifle is expected to deliver even greater performance benefits. A prototype version weighs in at just 2kg, compared with 3.44kg for the EF88.
The development of the weapon comes as Chief of Army Rick Burr prioritises a new “accelerated warfare” doctrine.