QinetiQ outfits Army with wearable hostile-fire solution

QinetiQ North America has received a $9.95 million award to provide the Army with a gunshot and sniper-fire detection solution for troops to wear in combat areas.

The order from the Army's Rapid Equipping Force calls for QinetiQ's Technology Solutions Group to provide Soldier-Wearable Acoustic Targeting Systems (SWATS). This is the Army's first large-scale deployment of any wearable gunshot and sniper detection technology, company officials said.

U.S. Army troops in Iraq and Afghanistan will begin receiving the units this year. The deployment is expected to be completed by early 2009.

The SWATS system is a member of QinetiQ's Ears Gunshot Localization System family of products, which was developed to allow military personnel to respond to sniper fire immediately and accurately, the officials said.

Ears is the first wearable, complete sniper detection/location system, and provides both audio and visual cueing, they said. Its low-profile acoustic sensor, coupled with operator interfaces designed for individual soldiers, vehicles and fixed locations, audibly cues the soldiers to the direction and distance of gunfire in less than one second after the first shot, without being confused by surrounding sounds.

The palm-size, 6.4-ounce core sensor needs only one gunshot to accurately locate snipers in a 360-degree view, even when in use in a moving vehicle.

QinetiQ North America worked with the Defense Department to test the Ears system in stateside demonstrations as well as in-theater, said Don Steinman, director of technology marketing and transition at QinetiQ NA's Technology Solutions Group.

QinetiQ NA, of McLean, Va., ranks No. 24 on Washington Technology's 2008 Top 100 list of the largest federal government prime contractors.

About the Author

David Hubler is the former print managing editor for GCN and senior editor for Washington Technology. He is freelance writer living in Annandale, Va.

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