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Autonomous Rotorcraft Sniper System

The Precision Weapons Platform (PWP) is a lightweight turret that SDL is creating for the U.S. Army’s Aviation Applied Technology Directorate (AATD) as part of the Autonomous Rotorcraft Sniper System (ARSS). SDL is also developing the operator’s station and the algorithms and software needed to control the PWP. 

PWP is intended to integrate a sniper system onto a rotary–winged unmanned aircraft that will allow sniper capability on a platform that can achieve line of sight to a target by going above or around obstacles. This system could provide an accurate delivery of fire with little or no collateral damage, which is particularly useful in urban settings.

The PWP began as an internally–funded research and development project. With the funding provided by AATD, the PWP’s functionality and capabilities have been significantly developed. The PWP weapon payload is a .338 Lapua Magnum rifle, which includes a situational awareness camera and a scope with cameras attached that provide two levels of zoom.


A key element of the program is the use of commercial off–the–shelf components to reduce cost and the time needed for development. The operator’s station is similar to a video game with video imagery from the cameras displayed on a flat–panel monitor. A gaming controller is used for aiming, arming safing, and firing tasks. The controller is also used by the remote operator to change camera views or modes of operation. A laptop computer configures and controls the system.

The system is being developed under AATD’s umbrella Science and Technology program called the Aerial Delivery of Effects from Lightweight Aircraft (ADELA). The purpose of this program is to move unmanned aerial systems (UASs) beyond the reconnaissance, surveillance and targeting acquisition role.

With programs like ARSS, SDL is assisting the U.S. Army’s goal of bringing relevant technologies that are platform–independent to the Warfighter.