The M56A2 is a 10mm general purpose automatic squad support weapon effective to 1500 meters. The barrel is replaceable and is air-cooled, though a heat sink attachment can be coupled to it. The entire system is mounted to an operators harness and slaved to an IR tracking system. The gun is self-steering on its mount but is manually fired.
Prepping the Smartgun
The M56 system consists of 4 major components: the operator's combat harness, the Head Mounted Sight (HMS), the articulation arm, and the gun itself. The harness is composed of composite micromesh ballistic armor and is heavily padded to reduce chafing. The armored breastplate holds the communications transceiver and the tracking/targeting processor.
The stabilized articulation arm is attached to the left hip mount point and plugged in via a coaxial cable to the processor and power outlets on the breastplate with the gun at the end of the arm. The HMS is plugged into the tracking and comms system in the armor. The gun tracker is jacked into the processor by a universal connector and the gun must be powered up prior to loading; power is from a Li battery rated for 50,000 rounds.
While the operator is standing, the gun is held and steered by the fore and aft grips. Vertical range from slightly downward to straight up and horizontally from straight ahead to the entire left side. The gun can be used while prone, but the user must lie on his back using the fore grip and the charging handle (locked in place) for movement.
The articulation arm is gyrostabilised and provides additional recoil dampening while the user is walking or running. When tracking a target, the arm self-steers the barrel to bore sight the target's center of mass. An operator can override the gun at any time simply by moving the barrel away.
When powered up, the gun starts tracking targets via its IR tracker mounted above the barrel. This system views a 30° cone in front of the gun and transmits high-resolution thermal images to a video display on the HMS. If a target is detected, a lighted rectangle will be placed over it's center of mass and the arm will steer the gun to aim at this point. As soon as it does this, a target lock circle is then lit to indicate the target is bore sighted. If engaging multiple targets or if IR decoys are targeted, the gunner can manually steer the lighted box to the desired target.
Firing the Smartgun
Firing is controlled with either the forward hand grip or the rear firing handle; the gunner activates either the red “fire” switch or squeezes the rear handle. The forward grip also controls the gun's safety and rate of fire (safe, burst, or auto).
The M250 ammunition is 230 grain caseless round similar to the Pulse Rifle's ammo. The biggest difference is that the Smartgun's ammunition has a selectable fuse; a switch on the hand grip electronically sets the bullets fuse as it's loaded into the breach. The “Super” setting is designed for soft targets and detonates on impact while the “Delay” setting explodes the shell only after penetrating the target.
Smartgun ammo is stored on a continuous plastic, non-disintegrating, 150-round, linked belt in the ammunition drum, which is field reloadable. The gun motor drives the feed mechanism as well as the rotating breech and automatically loads each round off the belt; the manual charging handle can also be used to manually load the gun as well as remove a misfired round.