Future Soldier Guide: Weapon Subsystem

Background


IDF Future Soldier Program weapon subsystem is known as the Multi Purpose Rifle System (MPRS). It is comprised of two main components:

  • Fire control system – developed by ITL, it was originally known as MPRS but is now marketed as “Viper”. In addition, to the Viper which was the platform’s original Fire Control module, in 2008 IMI introduced its own fire control module named “Orion” and designed to compete with the ITL Viper.

  • Programmable airburst rifle grenades – developed mostly by IMI, with Reshef developing the grenades' electronic fuses, which include programmable microchips. The MPRS grenades are known as "Advanced Air Burst Grenade" or "REFAIM” by their Hebrew acronym.

The MPRS was originally designed to be integrated with the Tavor. When fitted on the weapon, the Tavor standard handguards were to be replaced with custom handguards, which contains three built-in remote switches, which activate the Viper's main function: laser pointer, laser rangefinder and data transmission, similar to the original Tavor with its handguards integrated ITL MARS controls. However, the Viper is a modular system, which can be fitted on most assault rifles, including the M16 family fielded by the IDF.

A M4A1/M203 combo fitted with an ITL Viper, an Israeli stock and a pistol grip. Also seen in the background is a Tavor fitted with an REFAIM telescopic bullet trap rifle grenade.

MPRS Key Features


  • Airburst - the grenade can be programmed to detonate in mid air above the target, which increases its lethality and allow for highly accurate long range interdiction of hidden targets in buildings, behind covers or in trenches.

  • Improved accuracy - the high accuracy of the system is especially important in urban combat or LIC, when civilians are often nearby.

  • Line-of-Sight (LOS) and Non-Line-of-Sight (NLOS) targeting and interdiction

  • Longer range

  • Versatility - capable of handling variety of munitions and grenade configurations

  • Modular - can be fitted on most assault rifles

  • Automatic setting of range, altitude and trajectory - pending on the type of munitions used and the operator's adjustments.

  • Simplicity - point and shoot capability

  • Rear fuse location - unlike many standard issue 40 mm grenades, the REFAIM grenades fuse is located in the rear of the grenade, thus providing a better protection against hits, which is needed due to the grenade's delay detonation/soft target penetration capabilities.

ITL Viper


Key features:

  • Laser pointer - either visible or IR

  • Day/Night camera

  • Wireless Video and data transmitter

  • Laser rangefinder

  • Computerized Fire Control for airburst grenades

  • Non-magnifying Red dot sight

The integrated camera and video/data transmitter have two main usages:

  • Short range transmission to HMD or carried monitor - provides the operator with an effective tool to observe, identify and engage targets behind corners or obstacles, while minimizing body exposure.

  • Long range transmission– leveraging the operator carried tactical radio, which is an integral part of the IDF future infantry soldier platform, the Viper can transmits the combat situation to the operator's team, other friendly forces or to commands. The device can therefore assist in real time Command and Control as well as post-deployment briefing.

The Viper is a fully autonomous system. It can be integrated with a variety of Future Infantry Soldier platforms, but can also be used as a stand-alone system fitted on the weapon in order to increase lethality. Similarly, the Viper can be used with either programmable grenades or with conventional grenades.

A CAD model of the Tavor fitted with a Viper prototype.

REFAIM Grenades


The REFAIM grenades were originally offered in two configurations:

  • Telescopic bullet trap rifle grenade - fitted on the weapon's barrel, and fired using a standard round. In this configuration, the MPRS grenade has a telescopic design in order to ease carrying. The grenade's rod extends to full length only after it is fitted on the weapon's barrel. Mounting the grenade on the barrel also powers up the grenade's inner electro-optical systems. This configuration was essentially disbanded as IMI is now focused on the under-barrel 40 mm grenade launchers fielded by most modern armies.

  • 40 mm grenades - can be fired from any standard 40 mm grenade launcher platform, such as the M203. This is the main configuration offered today by IMI.

Prior to firing, the Viper measures the range and elevation to the target using its integrated laser rangefinder and determines the ideal trajectory, detonation time and detonation altitude over the target. The Viper then displays the operator with correct point of aim and the targeting information is automatically downloaded to the grenade's programmable electronic fuse.

To ensure simplicity, rapid target acquisition and interdiction, the REFAIM supports point and shoot without any need for manual intervention by the operator. In more complex firing situations, the operator can adjust some of the parameters such as the preset time delay or the detonation mode.

There are several models of REFAIM grenades, available in either rifle launched bullet trap configuration or 40 mm configuration:

  • Non-lethal - designed to be used in urban combat or LIC, in which the enemy is often using civilians as human shield, and can also be used for crowd control. The grenade's warhead is fitted with CS gas or other non-lethal materials.

Tavor fitted with an ITL Viper and a REFAIM non lethal telescopic bullet trap rifle grenade.

  • Camera - a low cost alternative to modern micro-UAV, this model has an embedded day/night camera and a two way wireless communications module. The grenade enables real-time, team level, "Over the Hill" tactical intelligence gathering. The optimal trajectory of the grenade is determined by the Viper, pending on the user requirements. After launch the grenade transmits video feed of the target, which can be delivered to a variety of devices such as HMD or monitor, up to few hundred meters range. The two ways communication module also enables various in flight zoom options. This model is similar to the RAFAEL Firefly prototype.

The REFAIM camera embedded telescopic bullet trap rifle grenade.

  • Explosive – offered with has several detonation modes: - Airburst / Preset Denotation - the grenade will detonate at preset altitude over the target as determined by the Viper. - Time Delay - the grenade will detonate at a preset delay after penetrating soft targets (vehicles) or crossing an opening (doors, windows) in order to ensure maximum lethality. The time delay option can also be used to setup a booby-trapped area few hundreds meters away from the operators. - Impact Detonation - the airburst capability of the grenade can be disabled, turning it into a standard detonate-on-impact grenade.

IMI personnel demonstrating a M4 Commando fitted with an IMI Orion fire control module (right - with Shimon Peres). The recently introduced Orion is designed to compete with the ITL Viper, and similarly provide control over programmable smart munitions such as the IMI REFAIM (left photo: IDF).

Future Soldier Guide