US Army to deploy Individual Gunshot Detector, essentially a radar for bullets

Latest in our series of "when video games turn real," here's the US Army's newest addition to the wargadget arsenal. The Individual Gunshot Detector, produced by QinetiQ, is an acoustic monitor attuned to tracking down the source of gunshots just by their sound. It has four sensors to pick up the noise of incoming fire, and its analysis of those sound waves produces a readout on a small display that lets the soldier know where the deadly projectiles originated from. The entire system weighs just under two pounds, and while it may not be much help in an actual firefight -- there's no way to distinguish between friendly and hostile fire -- we imagine it'll be a pretty handy tool to have if assaulted by well hidden enemies. 13,000 IGD units are being shipped out to Afghanistan later this month, with a view to deploying 1,500 each month going forward and an ultimate ambition of networking their data so that when one soldier's detector picks up a gunfire source, his nearby colleagues can be informed as well.

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Army deploying 'Individual Gunshot Detector'
Mar 15, 2011

ARLINGTON, Va. (Army News Service, March 14, 2011) -- U.S. Army forces in Afghanistan will begin receiving the first of more than 13,000 gunshot detection systems for the individual dismounted Soldier later this month, service officials said.

"We're really trying to ensure that every Soldier is protected," said Brig. Gen. Peter Fuller, Program Executive Officer Soldier.

The Individual Gunshot Detector, or IGD - made by QinetiQ North America - consists of four small acoustic sensors worn by the individual Soldier and a small display screen attached to body armor that shows the distance and direction of incoming fire.

The small sensor, about the size of a deck of cards, detects the supersonic sound waves generated by enemy gunfire and instantaneously alerts Soldiers to the location and distance toward the hostile fire, said Lt. Col. Chris Schneider, product manager for Soldier Maneuver Sensors.

"When you get fired on, instead of trying to figure everything out, you will have technology to assist you in knowing what happened and where the shot was coming from," Fuller said.

The entire IGD system, procured by PEO Soldier and the Army's Rapid Equipping Force, weighs less than two pounds, Schneider said.

The idea is to strategically disperse the systems throughout small, dismounted units to get maximum protective coverage for platoons, squads and other units on the move, Schneider explained.

Over the next 12 months, the Army plans to field up to 1,500 IGDs per month, he said.

In the future, the Army plans to integrate this technology with its Land Warrior and Nett Warrior systems. These are network-situational-awareness systems for dismounted units, complete with a helmet-mounted display screen that uses GPS digital-mapping-display technology, Fuller said.

"The next thing we want to do is try to integrate this capability with other capabilities; for example, we have Land Warrior deployed in Afghanistan and we're going to have Nett Warrior coming into the force. How about, if you get shot at, not only do I know where that came from, but others know where it came from because I can network that capability," said Fuller.

"It's about how to leverage technology to improve your survivability and situational awareness."