Over roughly the past 20 years, several remote aiming systems have come along to provide the capability to fire effectively from cover. Now, C2i Advanced Technologies, a relatively new enterprise located in Deerfield, New Hampshire, is offering the latest remote accuracy system, which provides lightweight operational simplicity and reliable accuracy unfound in similar mechanisms.
C2i’s Remote Aiming System–Rifle (RAS-R, pronounced “razor”) provides shooters a clear edge in dangerous situations. Chris Coombs, who has expertise in firefighting and law enforcement thermal imaging systems as a result of his work with companies like Insight Technologies/L-3 Warrior Systems, Torrey Pines Logic and Night Optics USA, founded the C2i in 2006. Coombs benefitted from his strong relationships with those technology companies, which helped develop the optics, transceivers and displays in the RAS-R. He conceived the RAS-R system in 2010, after listening to Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, many of whom had firsthand experience with the perils of enemy fire.
“We knew the need was real and that there were options out there already,” said Coombs. “One problem was that none of the remote sighting options were adapted to the soldiers’ aiming optic systems now in widespread use. In addition, other systems require shooters to change their shooting techniques and relearn ‘motor memory,’ a tremendously important factor for military professionals. Finally, other systems are not operationally intuitive and tend to limit options for practical use.”
“It took some serious work to move the various technologies forward enough to achieve this very low-profile, totally adapted solution. The first version weighed 7 pounds, and we’re now down to half a pound. We also successfully addressed technological issues such as battery life and power consumption, frequency interference issues with the wireless component, and image quality and color fidelity issues with the camera unit,” Coombs explained. “It is beyond words how satisfying it is when we get operators to try it, and see the complete amazement in their faces when they run it as hard as they can and it always works for them!”
The RAS-R is ready to go, with development improvements already coming down the pike. “This is just the beginning,” Coombs said. “We already know what new capabilities RAS-R will have in the next couple of years, to give operators who learn RAS-R greater dominance in a gunfight. That’s the true measure of a new capability. We know RAS-R can scale up, and that’s what we can’t wait to get to work each day to pursue!”
Piece By Piece
What sets the RAS-R apart from other systems is that it relies on optical sights that are now in common use on military and law enforcement rifles. Because the RAS-R does not utilize an integral sight, it is simpler and more intuitive than other remote aiming units, and its simplicity translates into a lighter, more compact profile that permits conventional, shoulder-mounted aiming with no interference from the unit when installed. The system does not require shooters to orient their views either to the target or the firearm, permitting truly remote operation from virtually any position in which the rifle’s muzzle can be trained on a target. It also enables the shooter to scan an area from a concealed position or to fire accurately at a target while on the move without sighting the rifle from the shoulder or high-chest assault positions, where field of view is impacted.
The RAS-R consists of a Rifle Mounted Kit containing a Video Capture Unit (VCU), an advanced camera attached to a rifle’s optical sight and a tiny transmitter that snaps on a Picatinny rail. The entire element weighs just 9 ounces. A future model will incorporate the transmitter in the camera unit. The VCU utilizes a beam-splitter so the operator can look right through the unit and aim normally through the sight. The integral wireless transmitter feeds the image to the Receiver/Near Eye Display (NED) carried by the user and attached to his or her eyewear or goggle frames. Whether aiming directly or remotely, if the optical sight’s red-dot or reticle is zeroed properly and the shooter’s firing mechanics are right, the shot will hit the aim point. From a perfect cheekweld, there will be no difference between the image on the NED and the image in the sight.
Tom Healy, CEO of AeroSolutions, manufactures the VCU. “We’ve been involved in producing night-vision-compatible cockpit illumination and video cameras for military and aviation applications for several years,” Healy said. “We adapted our product to RAS-R’s specifications. The camera contains no reticle and produces no parallel image. What the camera sees is what the shooter sees.”
The RAS-R’s Receiver/NED component can be attached to a MOLLE vest or in a pouch. The receiver weighs just 7 ounces and contains the unit’s battery power supply and streams the video image through a single wire to the 2-ounce NED that operates like a head-up display clipped to safety glasses or goggles. Switches on the transmitter and the NED activate the RAS-R, projecting (initializing) video imagery in less than three seconds. Although the NED can be mounted according to the operator’s preference, most shooters place the RAS-R in front of their dominant eye.
“Because we focused on matching operators’ shooting habits as closely as we could, the system is almost completely intuitive. After maybe three practice magazines, our evaluators were assaulting, shooting backwards, shooting at shoelace level and adapting RAS-R to night-vision equipment to get the novelty of seeing the reticle/red-dot in living color, instead of green or amber,” Coombs said.
RAS-R field tests have been impressive. Several law enforcement agencies and U.S. Army Special Operations Command shooters at Camp Roberts, California, have evaluated the system, praised the concept and suggested improvements. After more than 2,500 rounds of 5.56mm and hundreds of 7.62mm shots fired with test devices, the RAS-R has proven reliable, with no electronic problems noted.
Coombs stated that the RAS-R is nearly set to go: “We have work to do to incorporate all of the spot-on critique and suggestions for improvement we received from our T&E evaluators. We’re hard at it to complete this last set of upgrades before production begins.” C2i will begin filling orders in a few months. Coombs expects orders to come from a wide variety of law enforcement and security agencies as well as from the military. Training on the unit will be available at or through the Sig Sauer Academy in Epping, New Hampshire. RAS-R prices vary from about $7,295 to $7,595 based on the mount required to attach the system to a range of optical sights. The cost is competitive with similar devices.
“There’s no doubt in our minds that RAS-R is an important and effective tool to return the dominance of the fight to our guys,” Coombs related. “There’s no doubt that it works, and no doubt that it’s worth the coin it takes to get one. Our experience with RAS-R tells us that the more shooters see it and try it, the more they’ll discover how important it could be. As operators use the system, they’ll learn ways it can be used that we haven’t discovered yet!” For more information, visit c2iadvancedtechnologies.com or call 603-706-0862.