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DARPA Counter Sniper Technology – 1996 “Bullet Ears”- Saving lives today… February 18, 2014

Posted by Chris Mark in Uncategorized.
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DARPAWhile I was serving as a Reconnaissance Marine in 1996, I was asked if I was interested in an  opportunity to work with the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) on some counter sniper technology that was being developed?  Since I was also a Marine Scout/Sniper with combat experience as a sniper, I was told I was a good fit.  I jumped at the opportunity to  make some per diem, and screw around at Ft. Benning during the Summer Olympics, which were being held in Atltanta (about an hour away).

There were numerous systems and we spent our days shooting, trying to beat the COBRAsystems, writing reports on our findings, and talking trash with all of the bearded PhD engineers who built the cool toys that we could break.  It was immensely fun.  In 1996, the technology was in its infancy and the computer processing power was not yet well enough defined to make the systems very effective.  There was one system that we evaluated that struck a chord with the snipers.  It was based upon a series of sensors that ‘heard’ the supersonic crack of the bullet as it passed between the sensors.  It would use basic time differences and triangulate the position of the shot and, using basic trigonometry, it could calculate where the shot originated, the caliber, and other factors.  Ultimately we gave it good reviews and the DARPA representative code named it “Bullet Ears” (yeah..I am not making this up)..

Today I was reading an article by Steve Reichert (the Marine Sniper with the Mile long shot and three kills with one shot) titled DARPA’s XM3 Sniper Rifle.  In the article, it references a sniper detection system named ‘Boomerange’ by Raytheon’s BBN Systems.  Imagine my surprise when I checked out the system and realized it was the actual finished version of “Bullet Ears” we had tested almost 20 years ago!…It has been deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan…Wow.  To think it has actually saved lives.  That is very cool to think that a technology we tested in 1996 is saving lives in 2014…

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