Anti-Sniper/Sniper Detection/Gunfire Detection Systems at a Glance

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by David Crane
defrev (at) gmail (dot) com

July 19, 2006

There are currently a number of anti-sniper systems (a.k.a. sniper detection systems, a.k.a. gunfire detection systems) that have been designed and developed for use by military infantry personnel. DefenseReview plans on doing a review and analysis of all of these systems/technologies at some point in the not-too-distant future.

In the meantime, we thought we would provide our readers with some info that we’ve gleaned from the various manufacturers’ websites, as well as some additional information that is available around the web (including articles and press releases), so our readers can have all the information in one location (here). An anti-sniper/sniper detection/gunfire detection system resource, if you will. Most of the following information comes from outside sources, and is not Defense Review original content. However, our readers should find it useful, nonetheless.

Here’s some of what we’ve found so far:…

1) BBN Boomerang II Mobile Acoustic Shooter Detection System (MASDS) for Moving Vehicles:

From the BBN Technologies website:
“Acoustic shooter detection for moving vehicles

When the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) realized they needed a way to help protect U.S. troops from sniper attacks in Iraq, and they needed it quickly, they called on BBN Technologies.

DARPA needed a vehicle-mounted system that would localize shooters firing at moving HMMWVs, giving U.S. soldiers time to return fire or get out of harm’s way. BBN had previously developed a counter sniper system under DARPA sponsorship, but this new system would require significant adaptations. The requirements included:

– Shooter localization to plus or minus 15 degree accuracy and within one second of the shot

– Reliability for shot miss distances of one to 30 meters

– Ability to detect and localize fire from AK-47s and other small arms at ranges from 50 to 150 meters

– Reliable performance in urban environments with low buildings

– Operable when mounted on a vehicle moving up to 60 miles per

hour on either rough terrain or highways

– Ability to withstand sand, pebbles, rain, and light foliage impacts

– Ability to deliver alert information in both a voice announcement and on an LED display

– Microphone array and electronics box must be replaceable in the field

By designing and testing sensor arrays, cabling, and custom boards, and developing signal processing algorithms at a feverish pace, BBN scientists and engineers were able to design, test, produce, and deliver life-saving technology to troops serving on Operation Iraqi Freedom in just over two months. The result is just what the customer requested; a vehicle-mounted sensor system that identifies the origination point of hostile gunfire and works in extreme weather conditions, in the open field and in urban environments; whether static or moving. Sensors, which are mounted in an array at the top of a pole attached to the rear of a vehicle, detect both supersonic shock waves and sound waves from the muzzle blast to identify the location from which a shot is fired. Users receive simultaneous visual and auditory information on the point of fire from an LED display and speaker mounted inside the vehicle.”

BBN Boomerang II: Mobile Acoustic Shooter Detection System (MASDS) (PDF Format)

“Detecting and Responding to Enemy Weapon Fire at the Speed of Light WeaponWatch combines infrared sensor fidelity and super high-speed data analysis to enable warfighters to instantaneously detect, locate and classify firings of a broad range of weapons. Warfighters and security personnel are under increasing risk from sniper fire and drive-by shootings. These terrorist acts succeed largely because of the difficulty in detecting and locating the enemy fire. Forces engaged with Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) are employing this system today to provide exacting targeting information in both urban and open terrain.

WeaponWatch: The Complete Solution

– Detects weapon fire in real-time day or night across a wide 120° field of view. Sensors may be stationary or “on the move.” WeaponWatch can identify individual weapons fired during simul-taneous fire from dozens of weapons.

– Locates fired weapons by translating azimuth, elevation and range to actionable geocoordinates. WeaponWatch integrates with the platform’s guidance system to adjust for velocity and aspect.

– Classifies detected weapons using a vast database of weapon fire signatures for small arms, sniper rifles, machine guns, RPGs, MANPADs, tanks, mortars, artillery and others. Weapon-Watch can detect fire from each of these weapons from beyond its effective range.

– Responds instantaneously with the detected weapon’s type and geolocation, cuing integrated sensors, weapons and other systems while transmitting detection and response event data to command and control systems. WeaponWatch’s user interface delivers detailed visual information with man-in-the-loop engage-ment control.”


3) REDOWL (Robot Enhanced Detection Outpost with Lasers)

“Press Release

iRobot and Boston Univ. Photonics Center Unveil Advanced Sniper Detection System for iRobot PackBot Combat-Proven Robot to be Equipped with Enhanced Laser, Optical & Acoustic Systems
BURLINGTON, Mass. and BOSTON – Oct. 3, 2005 – iRobot Corp. and The Photonics Center at Boston University introduced a tactical sensory system payload prototype, dubbed REDOWL, for the combat-proven iRobot PackBot® robot. REDOWL, or Robot Enhanced Detection Outpost with Lasers, can detect and locate snipers and mortars on the very first shot fired at personnel or vehicles.

REDOWL is an ongoing rapid development program led by The Photonics Center at Boston University with iRobot, Insight Technology and BioMimetic Systems. The technology will be demonstrated publicly for the first time today at the Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA) Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., at iRobot booth No. 1750.

REDOWL is a remote, deployable sensor suite designed to provide early warning information, gunshot detection, intelligence, surveillance and targeting capabilities to military forces and government agencies. The REDOWL equipped PackBot has been field-tested for the Army’s Rapid Equipping Force at a rifle and trapshooting range. Of the more than 150 rounds fired from 9 mm pistols, M-16 and AK-47 rifles from over 100 meters, the REDOWL system located the source of the gunfire successfully 94 percent of the time.

The iRobot PackBot is a Tactical Mobile Robot that can be hand-carried and deployed by a single soldier. Proven in Afghanistan and Iraq, PackBot searches dangerous or inaccessible areas, providing soldiers with a safe first look so they know what to expect and how to respond.
“REDOWL more than satisfies mission requirements to provide advanced optical and acoustic detection capabilities to the U.S. military for use in its growing inventory of unmanned ground vehicles,” said Dr. Glenn Thoren, director of Project REDOWL. “Combining optics and acoustics systems together with iRobot’s PackBot to detect and locate a source of hostile fire or track moving vehicles, day or night, is a first in systems integration for unmanned vehicles.”
REDOWL features an array of optics and acoustic detection systems including a laser pointer and illuminator, acoustic localizer and classifier, thermal imager, GPS positioning, an infrared and daylight camera and two wide-angle cameras. When integrated with the PackBot, these systems enable the robot to accurately detect, locate and identify the origination point of hostile gunfire. These systems also make REDOWL ideal for day and night urban surveillance, reconnaissance, hostage/barricade situations, forward observation outposts and perimeter protection missions.

“Snipers have had the advantage of being effectively invisible – making them a deadly threat on the battlefield and in urban settings,” said Vice Admiral Joe Dyer (U.S. Navy, Ret.), executive vice president and general manager, iRobot Government & Industrial Robots. “REDOWL is a mobile system, which means snipers can run but they cannot hide anymore.”

REDOWL features an Acoustic Direction Finding (ADF) system developed by BioMimetic Systems. The ADF is based on advanced “neural circuits” emulating human hearing and provides accurate detection and bearing information in high background noise environments.

In addition to providing its PackBot robot platform, iRobot developed the software and behaviors for the robot. Insight Technology, a manufacturer of high-performance visible and infrared laser and illuminator systems, is heading up the development of REDOWL’s optics systems. BioMimetic Systems, a Photonics Center portfolio company, is responsible for REDOWL’s acoustic detection and location systems. The Army Research Laboratory is the primary source of funding for the project.

About iRobot Corp.

iRobot is a provider of robots that perform dull, dirty or dangerous missions in a better way. The company’s proprietary technology, iRobot AWARE Robot Intelligence Systems, incorporates advanced concepts in navigation, mobility, manipulation and artificial intelligence. This proprietary system enables iRobot to build behavior-based robots, including its family of consumer and military robots. For additional information about iRobot, please visit

About The Photonics Center at Boston University (

Based in Boston, Massachusetts, the Photonics Center at Boston University identifies and develops technologies based on the practical application of light. The Photonics Center hosts a Business Accelerator that enables emerging photonics technology companies to grow from idea to commercialization with greater speed and success. The Center provides an entrepreneurial environment that includes 21 laboratories, workspace for up to 20 start-up companies, and access to a range of equipment worth in excess of $40 million. To date the Center has started and/or accelerated 18 companies that have raised a combined total of over $225 million in outside venture capital and seed financing.

For iRobot Corp.:

Parna Sarkar
iRobot Corp.

For Boston University:

David Gerzof
The Photonics Center

Advanced Sniper Detection System For iRobot PackBot Unveiled

4) M1 FS-GDS Fixed Site/and M2 VM-GDS Vehicle Mounted Gunfire Detection Systems

The Gunfire Detection System (GDS) is a passive, acoustic-based security system that can detect and locate sniper or gunshot activity that occurs outside of the safety perimeter. This allows raid teams to quickly respond to catch the attackers, greatly increasing their chance of success. GDS is ideal for asset and force protection, providing automatic 360-degree coverage and multi-computer compatibility. The munition is currently being used by both the Army and Special Operations Forces as an additional layer of defense against aggression and terrorist-type activities in Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.
One unit in Iraq received the GDS and soon found out how valuable it was. Within two hours of emplacing the device, the unit received sniper fire. According to a LTC assigned to the 116 BCT, source data received from GDS enabled the Battalion to initiate a two-Platoon raid that resulted in two individuals being detained.”
The following information comes from a U.S. Army document titled 2005 Army’s Greatest Inventions:
“U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center Fielding Date: M1 FS-GDS and M2 VM-GDS: Materiel release approved in May 2005. M1 FS-GDS with PILAR Versatile Observation Turret: Conditional release in May 2005. M2 VM-GDS with RWS on the Stryker Vehicle also known as the Auto Gun Mount: Conditional release in January 2005 The GDS is a gunshot detection and localization device that collects the acoustic waves of a gunshot in a complete 360-degree area of coverage. The GDS has two variants: a ground fixed site and vehicle mounted version. The GDS passively “senses” the bullet shock wave and/or the muzzle blast from the bullet exiting the gun tube to provide relative azimuth, elevation and range for 5.56 – 12.7 mm weapon firings out to 1000 meters. In addition to stand-alone application of the fixed site GDS, it has also been integrated with other optical sensors namely the PIVOT, and weapons platform as the primary cueing system. The M2 VM-GDS would cue and provide the detected gunshot data with relative azimuth, elevation, and range to the Stryker vehicle commander via the RWS Fire Control Unit. The vehicle commander would then slew the RWS to the target location and use the RWS on-board day and night cameras to identify target prior to engagement.”

From the AAI Corporation website:

“PDCue® Family of Gunfire Detection Systems
AAI Corporation has developed an innovative and technically superior family of Projectile Detection and Cueing (PDCue) systems that accurately detect gunfire from hidden or distant sources in both urban and rural environments.
Our PDCue family of systems allows fully scalable solutions from single-shot with instantaneous answer to multiple-shot detection and management — with updated solutions while on the move or in convoy advancement.

The result is a tailored gunfire detection system that’s cost-effective, rugged, and accurate in all weather conditions, day or night.

PDCue Product Brochure: PDCue Family of Gunfire Detection Systems (PDF Format)

For more information,contact Derek Baker or call 1-410-628-3234 or 1-800-655-2616.”

6) Anti-Sniper Infrared Targeting System (ASITS)

The following information comes from a M2 Technologies document on the ASITS technology:

“Hostile fire is the greatest cause of US casualties and is currently a significant killer in both Iraq and Afghanistan. This fire comes from many different sources; snipers, rockets, artillery, mortars, and the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs). These enemy engagements are very short in time and are therefore, difficult to defeat._

In October, 2004 M2 Technologies, Inc. and the University of Kentucky partnered in a formal active collaborative effort to support the development of an Anti-Sniper Infrared Targeting System, known as ASITS. The developmental approach for ASITS uses commercially available sensors, ballistic modeling and commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) processing hardware.

ASITS is a thermal targeting, bullet-tracking technology that pinpoints the source of fire in real time. ASITS thermal sensor technology Is used for detecting, tracking and locating the source of hostile small arms fire is able to:

· Undetectably track thermal signatures of ballistics, artillery shells, and exploding fragments while in flight;

· Deliver improved accuracy over acoustic technologies that cannot reliably distinguish the source of weapons fire from echo-reflected sounds, redirected distorted sounds and sounds that emanate from military operations conducted in urban environments;

· Support multiple applications, e.g. fixed site, vehicle mounted, or airborne capability and is customizable;

· Provide instantaneous data collection at either a fixed site, in a moving vehicle or specified UAVs;

· Effectively works with suppressed ballistics and does not require muzzle blast.

M2 and the University of Kentucky Research Foundation (UKRF) have successfully demonstrated the ASITS proof of concept.

Other ASITS Initiatives
Anti–Projectile Infrared Targeting System (APITS)

APITS relies on the same high-speed infrared imaging to detect and track projectiles in flight. An incoming hostile projectile is targeted using a phase-only, liquid crystal, spatial light modulator (SLM) to electronically direct a laser light source. The resulting laser spot is then reflected off the incoming projectile. An interceptor projectile, having the capability of being steered will then guide itself into this reflected laser spot. By doing so, one can achieve a 1:1 ratio of interceptor to incoming projectiles that effectively eliminates the incoming hostile projectile and attendant collateral damage.

Fragmentation Infrared Targeting (Frag-IT) System

ASITS technology has been developed to identify various types of munitions fragmentation patterns. M2 can provide this service using a series of infrared sensors, dedicated lenses, ruggedized modular computer systems, and proprietary software based on the individual customers’ requirements. M2 has the capability to virtually assess the fragmentation effectiveness from various munitions, both static and air burst such as the programmable fuzed airburst munitions (PABM).”

7) ShotSpotter Military Systems

The following info comes from the ShotSpotter, Inc. website:
“Military Systems Overview

The ShotSpotter Military systems consists of three redundant “layers” of protection. Each layer works equally effectively deployed independently or in concert with other layers. The rapidly changing and dynamic nature of modern military combat motivated ShotSpotter’s decision to develop redundant protection layers which can interact with other layers when available or fall back to single layer performance when operating in an unsupported mode.

Last December, U.S. Joint Forces Command announced that they conducted a test of unmanned aerial vehicle, gunshot detection and interoperation capabilities in urban environments as part of a U.S. Marine Corps exercise in Louisiana. “One of the primary goals for the experiment involved the testing of the ShotSpotter system, an acoustic locating system that cues a UAV sensor to locate an enemy when he fires a weapon, whether on a battlefield or in an urban environment.”

In field-testing, the ShotSpotter wireless systems “provided improved awareness of the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) data – in near real-time with less than a ten-second delay,” said Cdr. James Joyner, US Navy. In addition, the integration of “ground-based sensors with UAV sensors made it possible to visualize the shooter’s location within seconds.”

Layer 1: Soldier-worn

Available now, this highly-sophisticated soldier-worn gunshot location system allows troops on the move to detect and locate gunshots and sniper-fire. Sensor devices weigh less than half a pound and are about the size of a PDA. The system immediately tells the small unit leader where a shot or multiple shots were fired from, and can deliver that information to others in the field. In one recent test performed by US Joint Forces Command, for example, ShotSpotter sensors successfully located weapons fire and immediately transmitted that information to an unmanned flying vehicle (UAV), such as the Scan Eagle or Predator, thereby providing friendly forces video of the shooter.

Layer 2: Vehicle-mounted

A second layer of protection is provided by Shot Spotter designed specifically for convoy and/or vehicle protection, whether on the move or stationary. These sensors are capable of locating a solo vehicle detect sniper fire. The system works seamlessly with both soldier-worn systems and fixed, installed sensors, so that as the convoy moves, the vehicle-mounted sensors blend in with other grids. These sensors, too, can be integrated with cameras mounted on the vehicles and aimed at the direction of enemy fire or used in concert with UAVs for aerial visual of the direction of fire.

Layer 3: Fixed installations

A third layer, for deployment around temporary or fixed locations consists of a rapid-deployment wireless version of the time-tested ShotSpotter Gunshot Location System that has been deployed in cities across the US for the past several years. Sensors can be quickly and easily installed on walls, posts and rooftops to form a complete grid that detects and locates gunfire and instantly relays that information to a visual display. The ShotSpotter technology is proven in difficult urban environments, and can be taken down and re-deployed as needed.

Developed using intellectual property acquired during ShotSpotter’s recent merger with Centurist Systems, the wireless gunshot detection systems are covered by US patents, both issued and pending. All three layers use the same core ShotSpotter technologies which filter out the echoes which cripple competitive systems when they are deployed in urban environments. Using ShotSpotter’s patented spatial filter architecture, the system can be set to filter in or out “non-threat” events (such as fire crackers, car backfires, etc.).

For more information about ShotSpotter Military solutions, contact:

Sales Office – Military Systems
Scott Manderville
Tel: 1-888-274-6877 x210
Fax: 678-868-1116″

The following is a link to a white paper Defense Review found on gunfire detection/sniper detection/anti-sniper systems written by the University Research Foundation, Maryland Advanced Development Laboratory:
It would seem logical that the Eyerec Technologies Ltd./Elbit Systems/Ortek Sniper Coordination System (SCS) could be utilized in tandem with the various sniper detection/anti-sniper systems listed above. The following information on SCS comes from Defense Update:

“Sniper Coordination Systems (SCS) provide improved planning and employment of snipers, as well as more effective monitoring of these assets. The system offers image transfer capability in real time, to monitor the line of sights of multiple snipers and verify individual targets for each shooter. Advanced systems also enable effective monitoring of targets around the corners, and actually firing around the corner, using a the use of weapon’s mounted camera, coupled via wireless link to an eyepiece or wrist mounted display.

The SCS utilizes a lightweight image splitter attached to the sniper rifle’s sight, and a wireless transmitter which sends the sight image in real time to the command post, where up to six different snipers can be supervised simultaneously. The images can also be sent to other elements in the field, viewed on wrist mounted display or on PDAs carried by the troops”

Back in November, 2005, Defense Industry Daily (DID) published an article on a number of the anti-sniper/sniper detection systems we’ve just covered here. That DID article is titled Anti-Sniper Systems Finding Their Range that’s worth reading. Click here to read it.

Anti-Sniper/Sniper Detection/Gunfire Detection Systems at a Glance by

About David Crane

David Crane started publishing online in 2001. Since that time, governments, military organizations, Special Operators (i.e. professional trigger pullers), agencies, and civilian tactical shooters the world over have come to depend on Defense Review as the authoritative source of news and information on "the latest and greatest" in the field of military defense and tactical technology and hardware, including tactical firearms, ammunition, equipment, gear, and training.

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