Chinese Helmet

Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA ) soldiers were seen using a portable scope and firing their rifles around corners by accessing the sight of the aiming system in their scopes, in a different form of “corner shooting” system.

The system, featured in a promotional story by a military-affiliated media outlet and a defense technology publication, is useful but risks going the way of two such US military programs that it doesn’tdoesn’t. They did well, neither technologically nor financially.

Called augmented reality systems, these devices are like ground versions of the helmet-mounted displays worn by fighter pilots that project all flight information and data onto the visor.

But the Chinese video also showed that AR systems double as a ” corner kick” weapon, where the shooter can have the perspective of the gun’sgun’s sight in their eyes, opening up endless possibilities for shooting with flexibility.

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The new corner kick?

The footage shows Chinese infantrymen (perhaps SOF) reloading magazines into regular-issue QBZ-95 assault rifles.

The soldiers have been seen to use a variety of visors under their helmets after firing their pistols and rifles. A soldier discharges his weapon over and around a barrier by sticking it around the corner. This indicates that the weapon’sweapon’s digital reticle sight can also be viewed on the AR goggles.

Retired Lt. Col. Amos Golan of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) developed a “corner shooting” mode that included moving a lever on a bulky adaptor kit containing a pistol, but this new method doesn’t require any such manipulation. This served to turn it in various directions.

A drop-down screen on the other half of the kit transferred the images from the optical sight attached to the pistols. It was quickly adopted by numerous law enforcement and security agencies worldwide due to its apparent usefulness in counter-terrorism, hostage rescue, and urban warfare scenarios.

However, the Chinese AR system seems more flexible in allowing a larger weapon, such as an assault rifle, that fires a larger bullet. In addition, the installation of the weapon does not require an adapter kit, which facilitates rapid target acquisition.

It is unknown if the system is intended solely for shooting around corners or is a broader information-sharing device connecting shooters with drones, command and control centers, and drones. But it is unlikely that China will only use it to “shoot around corners,” even if it is a test prototype.

The experts speak

Colonel Bipin Shinde (ret.) agrees that the system has its advantages. “Various combinations of information, from battlefield radars, drones, UAVs, satellite imagery, can be fed to the head-up display.” But it also warns of ” information overload,” especially if it is not correctly structured, ” which can become an obstacle.”

“In addition, excessive reliance on AR systems could completely shut down operation if it is destroyed or malfunctions,” he adds. It’s possible that the Chinese system has only been given to operating units as a test prototype and not as the final design.

The too-advanced US system that overwhelmed soldiers

Previous attempts by the US military to create a head-up display (HUD) for infantrymen failed miserably. Soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan were given the Future Warrior/Land Warrior program’s Integrated Augmented Display in 2007, and they immediately rejected it.

Weighing only 17 pounds (7.7 kg), units cited disorientation, mobility, space requirements for equipment, awkward cables, weapon accuracy, and technical issues.

The system featured devices that gave soldiers more information about their surroundings, shared data with their squad members, tactical commanders, and other resources, and transmitted to helmet visors and eyepieces.

The project prices are ridiculous, to say the least. Investment in its development reached $3.5 billion between its introduction in 1989 and 2009.

Later renamed the Target Force Warrior Program, the system’ssystem’s launch date was expected to be 2015, but nothing was reported until a year later in 2016. 

The cost is estimated to have doubled to nearly $7 billion of dollars, enough to buy 31 units of the F-35C, the most advanced variant of the stealth fighter, at an approximate price of 117 million dollars per plane.

However, this is not the final chapter. The Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) program was created so that similar blunders wouldn’t be made to the failed Future Warrior and Land Warrior initiatives.

Its promise is a fundamentally new approach in which the system provisions are based more on the soldier than on the technologists. “IVAS is the result of coders and soldiers working together without any bureaucratic requirements… carrying out military adaptations in record time,” said a Breaking Defense article.

IVAS was born from Microsoft’sMicrosoft’s HoloLens technology, adapted for military purposes. A Pentagon report suggested that the infantrymen did not like the system and would rather get rid of it.

Director of Operational Test and Evaluation Nick Guertin, in his evaluation for the Department of Defense (DoD), stated: “More than 80% (of soldiers experienced) headaches, eyestrain, and nausea (at) three hours to use the customized version of the Microsoft HoloLens glasses”. The IVAS costs $21.9 billion, needed to provide 120,000 devices over ten years.