Autonomous Rotorcraft Sniper System

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

The 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. One of the system’s key elements is its stabilization technology that enables precise pointing on unstable platforms. The PWP is also being tested for use on various towers used by the U.S. military.

Another 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 PWP began as an internally‐funded research and development project, which was then advanced through funding provided by AATD. The system was 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 aircraft systems (UASs) beyond the reconnaissance, surveillance and targeting acquisition role.

With programs like ARSS, SDL is assisting with the U.S. Army’s goal of supplying the warfighter with relevant technologies that are platform‐independent.