By relying on a reputable partner who can apply unmatched experience in weapon design and development towards creating systems that integrate cutting-edge sensors into small arms to radically increase multiple capabilities.
Electronic sensors when embedded into mechanical systems were in the past viewed with suspicion, and seen as gadgets, more likely to cause trouble than to be of any real help. Automotive and aircraft industries have gone far beyond this stage. Their greatest advances in performance come from the electronics that are an integral and vital part of their products.
Small arms development has seen few major advances over the past decades from a mechanical point of view. There have been many improvements, but nothing like what has been seen in aircraft and vehicles.
Integrating electronics and related technologies with small arms to make the weapon + human combination more effective
Getting small arms and electronic systems to work together is no simple task. When such systems are added to a weapon, the complete assembly must still meet the criteria for a military weapon:
- Minimum size and weight
- Ergonomics for carrying, handling and firing by left and right-handed operators
- Operate in adverse conditions and extreme temperatures
- Withstand rough handling
The electronics must also be able to withstand weapon recoil, including when a rifle is fitted with a grenade launcher.
Electronics integrated into vehicles and aircraft can be more easily protected from impacts, recoil, and the elements than that when fitted to a rifle. Also, effects on SWaP-C (size, weight, power and cost of the system) are far more difficult to manage for a rifle than for an armoured vehicle.
Electronics and software used with small arms must bring the greatest possible added value before, during and after deployment. They must effectively solve real-life problems while minimizing potential negative impacts. FN has worked on applying electronics to improve the operational capability of the operator with a small arm. The work has concentrated on three vital areas: aiming, weapon skills development and small arms management.
Small arms are generally accurate enough to hit the target at their maximum effective range. Improving the intrinsic accuracy of a weapon will only marginally increase hit probability in combat. The point of aim will often have to be adjusted by the operator to compensate for variable factors that affect the point of impact, notably; range, wind, slope angle, temperature…. Determining the value of these factors, then calculating the adjustments required, and modifying the point of aim is a complex and time-consuming task. Electronics can do this automatically. The assistance given by fire control systems to tank gunnery for decades is now available for the small arms that need them most; grenade launchers; precision/sniper rifles and machine guns that fire at long range.
Weapon Skills Development
To be effective in combat, the most important factor is not the equipment. It is the trained skills of the man or woman using it. Shooters must be competent in both basic marksmanship and in more dynamic and complicated tactical shooting. By giving the shooter easy access to a simple-to-use and effective training system directly on his duty weapon that identifies and helps to remediate any weaknesses, his skills can be greatly improved, which in turn increases combat effectiveness and readiness, and overall lethality in fine. New technologies are also capable to support efficient operators training.
Small Arms Management
Modern technology and designs have made small arms extremely reliable, but all mechanical systems require maintenance, and some parts wear out. Preventive maintenance is standard practice for vehicles and aircraft but was previously impossible with small arms due to lack of reliable data. A shot counter that records the number of rounds fired and other data, together with specialized software can make maintenance operations more efficient and effective. Importantly, they allow parts to be replaced preventively before they cause problems. By using data collected over decades, technologies such as AI will be capable in the near future to accurately predict when a specific part will break.
FN® e-novation: FN Herstal’s products and services range that brings electronics and software into its firearms, reliably making a real difference
As electronics become more reliable, smaller, lighter and more capable, they can increasingly be used to drastically improve overall performance and reliability of the weapon + human as a system.
With millions of small calibre firearms in service around the world since decades and skilled in-house R&D teams, FN Herstal undoubtedly has the established experience and reputation to develop useful, effective well-integrated solutions into small arms.
Main operator benefits with FN® e-novation integration:
- Optimise operational availability and reliability of the weapon + human combination at the right time
- Increase operator performance with rapid to deploy and comprehensive training tools
- Make small arms management and maintenance more efficient and effective
- Make target engagement faster, easier and more accurate