Weapon Aiming and Fire Control

With each generation, the art and science of weapon aiming and fire control has risen to meet the needs of the soldier and to ensure his safety and success. Weapon aiming advancements have been driven by the need for accuracy. Most efforts before the mid- 1700s were "trial and error." Paladin This changed with the invention of the ballistics pendulum, a devise which allowed engineers to measure the effectiveness of different powder formulations. Improvements continued into the late 1890s when the French 75 towed howitzer was introduced, the first modern cannon system, which has become the blueprint for all cannon systems today. During this same time frame, small caliber, high velocity magazine type artillery was also introduced for the infantry. It too went through many evolutions as early problems were corrected, making the weapon more accurate and effective.

Fire control encompasses all the operations involved in getting the bullet to its target. The firing may be precise or imprecise, accurate or inaccurate. It may produce right or dispersed shot patterns or impact. It may involve single or multiple rounds. It can be direct fire where the soldier can see the target or indirect where the enemy is typically beyond the line of sight. Direct fire is handled by rifles, tanks and helicopters; artillery and mortars are used for indirect fire. Rounds can be fired by an infantryman or from a platform. The common thread is that effective fire control produces a specific and expected tactical benefit.

This benefit is achieved through the performance of three basic fire control functions: sensing, processing and positioning. Sensing encompasses all of the information gathering activities necessary to determine the state of the weapon and firing platform, the target area and the environment. In the "Digitized Battlefield" of the future, this information will be shared quickly and accurately among weapons. Processing uses the senses information Soldier Firing Weapon to determine the most appropriate response to achieve a desired mission outcome. This activity may also produce instructions for firing rates, time and number of rounds. Positioning refers to how the computed instructions are implemented by the weapon. These three functions can be accomplished by a wide variety of electrical, mechanical or optical/elector-optical equipment or by the soldier. Whether the system is a tank for infantryman or the operation is manual or performed by a network of sophisticated components, the functions are the same.

Picatinny played a key role in developing fire control systems and battlefield information management systems and in designing diagnostic equipment for both direct and indirect fire weapons systems. Their work on the M109-series howitzer technology demonstrations of the 1980s led to the development of the M109A6 Paladin, the participation in the Armys Advanced Warfighting Experiments of the evolving Mortar Fire Control Systems in the early 1990s and the Rapid Force Projection Initiatives in the late 1990s. In every instance, Picatinny engineers pioneered the original technology development and subsequently supported engineering development of the digitization programs. Building on a strong foundation, each new advancement added to the already firm tradition of safety and accuracy.

Picatinny continues to weave these elements together to provide advances in fire control and delivery systems to ensure U.S. dominance on the battlefield. One certainty is that the breakthrough ideas that have come from Picatinny engineers, scientists, physicists and technicians would not have been possible without their personal commitment and dedication to this field of endeavor and their drive to deliver the best to our warfighters.