U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan will soon be receiving a fancy new toy: a computerized device that analyzes the harmonic resonance of distant gunshots, providing the wearer with a precise location of the shooter and the bullet's direction.
Created by defense technology contractor QinetiQ, the device uses four sensors worn by a soldier to analyze supersonic soundwaves from incoming gunfire. A small digital readout attached to their body armor provides detailed location and direction data on the fly.
"When you get fired on, instead of trying to figure everything out, you will have technology to assist you in knowing what happened and where the shot was coming from," Lt. Col. Chris Schneider told the Army News Service.
Roughly 13,000 of the devices are being deployed, according to reports. About 1,500 should be going out each month and are mainly going to Afghanistan, where soldiers are on constant alert for snipers in the distance.
In the future, systems like this will integrate with head-mounted digital displays and advanced GPS technology, the Army said, bringing the "network-situational-awareness" of the military's Land Warrior program to a new peak.
The Afghan war is America's most straining conflict at the moment, and also one of the country's longest-running wars. Launched in 2001 after the terrorist attacks on Washington, D.C. and New York City, the ongoing occupation of the region has claimed the lives of 2,375 coalition soldiers -- including 1,500 U.S. soldiers -- and thousands more civilians.
The last two years of the Afghan occupation have been the war's most violent so far, as President Barack Obama adopted the "surge" strategy of his predecessor that amped up troop levels and combat operation in an effort to improve security before a planned withdrawal.
A United Nations estimate published earlier this month claimed that 2,777 Afghan civilians were killed in fighting last year, up 15 percent from 2009.