Last year, in Afghanistan alone, enemy shooters have killed or wounded more than 4,500 U.S. troops. Enemy fire has been particularly difficult to pinpoint, because the shooters fire from hills, mountains, rocks or villages. Any inability to determine an exact location, costs countless lives.

Enter SWATS (Shoulder-Worn Acoustic Targeting System) a $2,000 device that’s about the size of a wallet, weighs less than a pound, and contains technology that can detect shock waves emanating from a gun blast. SWATS can detect the origin of incoming fire in less than one second. When a shot is taken at troops, the device provides them with an audio warning and a read-out with range and compass bearing. QinetiQ North America developed SWATS in response to concerns about the high toll of small arms fire on military forces. Thousands of these high-tech devices are being given to combat troops in Afghanistan and Iraq to help stop this major source of casualties.

The technology isn’t really all that new, vehicle-mounted detectors have been used for years in war, and even the police in some U.S. cities have used the technology mounted to towers in high crime areas. The Army had also tried mobile versions before, but determined that they needed more testing.

The U.S. Army selected SWATS for its Individual Gunfire Detection System program with an initial order for 13,500 units. The U.S. Marine Corps also selected SWATS for its Man Wearable Gunfire Detection System program with an order for over 900 units and training support. In addition to the U.S. military, SWATS has also been deployed with allied forces. Of course being the sap that I am, I would just prefer if they developed bullets that didn’t hurt anybody, maybe just stun them until they all come to their senses. But thats just me.


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