The US Army will receive another shipment of individual gunshot detectors called Ears Shoulder Worn Acoustic Targeting System (SWATS) made by QinetiQ later this month. SWATS is a small, lightweight device that allows the user to quickly locate the direction and exact position of an enemy combatant who is shooting at them. The US Army was so satisfied with their first purchase back in 2008 that they bought more for troops in Afghanistan back—13,000 to be exact.
The system works by first hearing the gunshot, which is acknowledged immediately, and it then processes the shot’s sound waves to locate direction and distance (when I say exact position, it actually means 3 o’clock, 100 meters, so technically exact position). Just like the name suggests, the user wears the microphone on his shoulder and the processing device on his forearm. The processing device has a screen with what looks like a radar screen on it and identifies shooters with blips.
Even though SWATS isn’t a new idea and has been in service for a number of years, it and QinetiQ is all over the blogosphere. QinetiQ has been winning government contract after government contract to make neat unmanned systems (Johnny 5, Alive!) and gunshot detectors. SWATS was designed specifically for roaming foot patrols, but it branched from other Ears Gunshot Localization Systems like Vehicle Mounted System (VMS) and Fixed Site System (FSS).