Military weapons stabilization systems assist with the successful operation of tank and armored vehicle guns, artillery pieces, naval guns and remote weapons stations (RWS) by compensating for motions such as vibration, weapon recoil, travel of the vehicle, uneven terrain and rough waters. The systems allow the guns to remain pointed at targets regardless of such motions.
Pointing accuracy is particularly important for weapons platforms that may have to engage line-of-sight (LOS) targets at distances of several kilometers.
Gun stabilizers may provide stabilization on single or multiple axes (typically pan and/or tilt), and vehicles such as tanks may have multiple stabilizer systems for the turret and for the weapons. Stabilization is usually provided by gyroscopes, which may be FOG (fiber optic gyros), RLG (ring laser gyros) or MEMS (micro-electromechanical systems).
There are many forms of gun stabilization, including the single-plane stabilizer – a simple stabilizer system that only stabilizes on a vertical axis, the shoulder-stop stabilizer, and the two-plane stabilizer which stabilizes on the horizontal and vertical axes.
Gyroscopic Stabilizer Systems
IMU for Stabilization and Pointing by Inertial Labs
Gyroscopic weapon stabilizers work by using the gyroscope to provide an angular moment that resists attempts to change its direction. This means that it provides a stable reference direction that remains stable even despite movements of the platform. The reference direction can be tied into a feedback loop involving servo motors that work to keep the gun barrel pointing in the desired direction.
Some weapons systems or platforms have separate stabilizing systems for different areas of the gun. For example, on tanks where one servo stabilizes the turret and another is used to elevate the gun. Aiming is then done by control input to the mechanism rather than directly on the gun. The control mechanism has other functions too, such as applying super-elevation and aiming ahead of the target according to the target’s speed – making it a fire-control system – this kind of system means some guns are entirely automatic.
Military Gun Stabilizers
ISA-100C – Tactical Grade IMU by Hexagon NovAtel
Stabilization systems are also under development for infantry weapons. The proposed solution uses a camera and ballistic computer to calculate errors and an electromechanical system to physically correct aim, redirecting the weapon’s line of sight and providing a “snap to target” functionality. The system is designed to remove the impact of human error such as shaking.
Aim Control Enhancer (ACE)
The US army is currently testing a stabilizing system called the Aim Control Enhancer (ACE), for more accurate aim for next-generation rifles. The ACE can be attached to the rifle and supports the soldier’s support hand, isolating movements in a similar way to a Steadicam system in the film industry.