Sci-Fi cinema is full of futuristic weapons capable of locating a hidden target, turning a beginner into a seasoned Sniper, or coordinating and presenting battlefield information. If James Cameron imagined it, the Israeli company Elbit, it, transformed this vision into a real assault rifle, the ARCAS, which will be presented next week at DSEI in London. And in fact, the Assault Rifle Combat Application System indeed offers a promise of capabilities beyond compare with existing infantry weapons, even the most modern, by bringing together in a single piece of equipment, an assault rifle, an Electro-system. low-light or infrared optics, and an information and tactical command system, all controlled through a simple mini-joystick integrated into the weapon's aiming handle.
In fact, the infantryman equipped with the ARCAS receives, via the telescopic sight or a monocular, a lot of information integrated in the form of augmented reality on his environment, coming from his weapon, his Electro-optical system as well as other personnel equipped with ARCAS, and even other systems present on site, such as drones, all being merged by the weapon's processing unit to be presented in the same way. more effective to the soldier. Thus, thanks to a simple and ergonomic man-machine interface, the soldier can detect invisible moving targets even with a light intensifier, identify the origin of threats, and even correct his shooting according to the parameters, so as to put in focus. goal.
But these are only the initial functionalities of ARCAS. Indeed, Elbit designed the weapon around an open system, which will allow its functionalities to be extended simply and quickly, by connecting it to the battlefield management system or to related systems, such as light drones. detection systems, electro-optical, sound or electromagnetic secondary detection systems, as well as a non-exhaustive range of secondary systems with capacities complementary to those of the weapon. In addition, unlike the US Army's IVAS, which rests a large part of the system on the military's helmet, most of the weight here is integrated into the assault rifle, and only the sighting eyepiece and of augmented reality will weigh down the military's helmet. The system also integrates many useful features, such as geolocation and navigation, the possibility of recording the video of the engagement, as well as a very relevant augmented reality training function.
These new capabilities brought together in ARCAS will therefore be able to give the advantage to Israeli soldiers, and by extension, to the West, while what has been their strength for more than 3 decades, such as communication systems, geolocation or helmets equipped with night vision binoculars are now becoming more widespread, including among non-state combatant groups. In fact, and beyond the advanced capacities of cooperative engagement, it seems in fact decisive to give Western infantry forces sufficient technological added value to regain the ascendancy on the battlefield, even if other countries , like China and Russia, are also developing very advanced infantry combat systems, such as the Russian Sotnik, an evolution of the Ratnik, which will integrate, like ARCAS, advanced detection and cooperative combat capabilities.
If ARCAS does not offer new capabilities strictly speaking, since each of them already exists and has already been implemented, Elbit's tour de force was to manage to bring them all together in the handle. before an assault rifle, and to implement them simultaneously and cooperatively, moreover in a system geared towards scalability, without unduly weighing down the weapon and the infantryman. since the ARCAS in assault rifle version weighs only 1 kg including batteries, and the special forces short barrel version does not exceed 850 gr. It remains to be seen, from now on, the behavior of the system in real operation. One can indeed fear that a mini-joystick does not support the constraints of infantry combat, or that the capacities of cooperative engagement and communication between ARCAS can be easily scrambled, or even altered by a cyber intrusion, or all. simply used to locate carriers. That said, Elbit has some experience in all of these areas, including having developed the BMS battlefield management system used by the Israeli Army.
Last criterion, but it is significant, the price of the system is currently unknown. We can easily imagine that this will far exceed the prices of current assault rifles, even the most advanced, since it is simultaneously a weapon, a cooperative engagement system and a system simulation and training. But it is also important to keep in mind that a large part of the armies, especially the Western armies which can afford to acquire such a system, are already operating their own battlefield management system, which could as soon as possible. then duplicate the functions of ARCAS. In addition, the recent experience of the Australian Army with the Elbit BMS risks weighing on the military's appreciation of this system. Therefore, if ARCAS undoubtedly foreshadows the capabilities of infantry weapons of tomorrow, there is still a long way to go before Elbit manages to make it more than an armaments show star.
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