This article was originally posted on Thefirearmblog.com
Working under contract from the Army’s Research, Development, and Engineering Command (RDECOM), AimLock, a subsidiary of Rocky Mountain Scientific Laboratory, developed an actively stabilized weapons chassis for AR-15 rifles. AimLock has been in the news before for their stabilized rifle platform, which was shown off in a presentation at the 2016 National Defense Industry Association conference and subsequently reported on in Futurism and Popular Mechanics, and, of course, here at TFB.
The AimLock stabilized weapon mount is based on the same fundamental concept used in an M1 Abrams tank that allows it to hit targets at long distances while moving at full speed. Like in an Abrams tank, the gun itself is not rigidly fixed in its mount, but is actually floated via a set of servomotors that allow the weapon itself the freedom of movement to adjust for disturbances in the platform’s position, such as a track rolling over a bump, or a soldier’s unsteady position. The computer in the rifle’s optic “knows” where the target is located and can track it, and can direct the weapon’s direction such that the barrel’s position remains in-line with the target even through disturbances in the platforms position. This allows a much higher probability of hit than with a conventional rifle, especially from moving vehicles and other unsteady firing platforms.
The stabilizing servomotors are contained in the rear of the butt housing. AimLock representatives said the whole system adds about 3-4 pounds to the rifle, which is less than I expected.
Currently the AimLock design is too bulky and heavy for infantry use, and too fragile besides, but it could see application in the not so distant future for vehicle weapon mounts, and other applications with integrated power, less emphasis on platform weight, and a higher tolerance for component fragility. Conceptually, the design is sound, of course. If it weren’t, it wouldn’t already be used in tank main guns, as previously mentioned. When will soldiers go into battle with actively stabilized infantry weapons? Well, my guess would be probably not for a while yet. The problems of durability, bulk, weight, and electrical power are still major limitations on the technology’s use in this role, and those are problems that are unlikely to be eliminated very quickly. Still, maybe we will see the first actively stabilized infantry support weapons hit the field in a few decades, or maybe even sooner.
At their booth, they had videos playing of some of the testing and demonstration that has been done. Here, an AimLock stabilize AR-15 is being used to shoot at targets from a helicopter.
A particularly slick looking incarnation of the AimLock chassis. Like all AimLock chassis, for mounting very little modification to the host rifle is needed.