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Smashing drones with a standard rifle may be the best way to counter them

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Marines test SMASH system against drones

Commercial Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are becoming standard on the battlefield. They have been seen everywhere, from Iraq and Syria to Ukraine and now the Gaza Strip. These commercial UAVs are doing reconnaissance, can drop grenades, and even act as kamikaze drones.

Various solutions are used to counter them. One of them is Smart Shooter’s SMASH optic that mounts to a standard rifle and gives the user the ability to hit a flying drone. 

Smart Shooter produces various systems that are all based around a fire-control system that is mounted on a rifle and functions like a fairly standard optic. The company makes both a reflex-style red dot option as well as a 4X. It’s fair to call the various SMASH systems smart optics.

It’s usually hard to hit drones with a rifle, as they are small and fly fast. The way SMASH optic addresses this is by identifying a target within a weapon’s field of view. The shooter can then select the target by pressing a single button in the form of a pressure switch. A box is then displayed around the target, and the shooter can track it within the sight. The shooter then pulls and holds the trigger, but the weapon will not fire until the reticle is on the target. The system will then fire the weapon and allow for a much higher likelihood of a hit on the target.

This system doesn’t work only for drones, but that’s where it really shines as its ability to track targets makes it easier for the shooter to land that hit. 

Shooter’s view through the SMASH system. The displayed box is visible on the target with the reticle being on its top right. (Smart Shooter)

Smart Shooter’s system has been employed by Israeli forces, and the Marine Corps has also been experimenting with it.

The system is likely the best infantry option currently available to counter drones as it gives the squad the ability to hit threats with a standard rifle, thus obviating the need for a special weapon to engage and eliminate threats. The SMASH system could be the first in a fascinating array of technologies used to counter commercial UAVs.

The current drone threats are very similar to the IED threats faced by Coalition troops during the Global War on Terror. They are dynamic and ever-evolving, and to save troop lives, forces facing these threats need to integrate modern and ever-evolving countermeasures.  

As the role of UAVs in the battlefield grows, so does the need to counter them. A simple solution that can be fielded by infantry forces will be in high demand. 

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Travis Pike

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record-setting 11 months at sea. He’s trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines, and the Afghan National Army. He serves as an NRA certified pistol instructor and teaches concealed carry classes.