Smartshooter Intelligent Enhanced Trainer (SIET)

Expert User

After the successful Integrated Organisational Learning System project, facilitated through Dstl’s Transforming Training, Education and Preparation (TTEP) project and in response to an ‘Open Call’ to the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA), Cervus Defence and Security Limited have successfully developed and tested, with a Defence end-user, a system capable of transforming the way in which service personnel at all levels receive feedback during all aspects of live fire training.

Working alongside the Royal Marines, Cervus have developed Smartshooter Intelligent Enhanced Trainer (SiET). Using Commercial-off-the-shelf equipment and existing infrastructure along with some bespoke engineered equipment. SiET offers the user and the chain of command the complete marksmanship picture, capturing individual and team performance during dry training, blank firing, live fire marksmanship training and demanding live fire tactical training.

Capturing the individual’s marksmanship performance from an in-service MantisX weapon sensor and pairing the fire event to the data captured from individually or collectively fired-on instrumented targets, SiET provides detailed analytics for all marksmanship training. This detailed analysis enhances individual and team performance by identifying issues early, providing direct-to-user feedback and through provision of extensive after-action review. The data is processed and stored in the cloud (or local instances) and can be used in the future to inform the development and enhancement of marksmanship training to make a more lethal and effective fighting force.

The Cervus aim was to demonstrate, through prototyping, an innovative Instrumented Live Fire (ILF) Capability at Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 7. Our aim was to ensure that such a demonstration was conducted in the hands of the end-user and in the context in which it is expected that the solution would be employed.


01. Problem

Modern groups of soldiers and marines need an effective, modern digital data capture and analytics system for detailed exploitation of their marksmanship training syllabus and/or operational shooting policy. Marksmanship training across the UK Ministry of Defence is conducted through a series of progressively more demanding stages including Classroom based lessons, Dry firing practices, Dismounted Close Combat Trainer (DCCT), Live Fire Marksmanship Training (LFMT), Transition to Live Fire Tactical Training (TLFTT), and Live Fire Tactical Training (LFTT). Similar approaches are taken by NATO allies around the world.

In each of these stages there are generally recognised shortfalls in how Marksmanship Feedback is given including: difficulties in accessing and sharing data, understanding the feedback format, or robustly storing the data for future use. The absence of feedback formats with both input and output measures included, or the inability to deploy instrumentation across a sufficiently broad setting to learn anything other than highly abstracted and aggregated views of collective achievement, is a continued limitation.

02. Approach

To develop the system in the most time, cost and effort efficient way a Lean Start-Up process was adopted. Focussing on the end user requirement and swiftly adapting the path of development to overcome issues and enhance the user experience of the final system this method delivered a concept to a minimal Viable Product in the minimum time.

Systems Architecture

The architecture originally conceived incorporated a large number of potential components, both COTS and bespoke elements, including MantisX (applique shot-taking measurement); Arrow 100 (high precision GPS); Android software & hardware; GoTenna Pro (short range tactical mesh); and Zephyr physiological monitoring system.

While conducting the three Sprints, the system architecture was further adapted and refined. It was evident from the user group that ‘less is more’ when instrumenting the soldier and developing an easy-to-use system. This adaptation introduced some new elements, an increased emphasis on supporting both the individual firer (Shooter app) and the Range Conducting Officer (RCO) in their responsibilities (the Range Management Tool App), as well as leading to deeper exploration of more communication bearer options than originally envisaged.

Prototyping the SiET Concept

The main focus of Sprint 1 ‘Integrate’ was to refine the system architecture with the priority of integrating the commercial off the shelf equipment to gather dismounted combat user performance data.

The initial focus of Sprint 2 ‘Prototyping in the Field’ was to integrate the in-service target systems used to capture the hit and near miss data.  Field testing was achieved with section level events, including LFTT AAR delivered to troops, and the capture of significant user feedback received from troops under training on all aspects of the system.

During Sprint 3 ‘Roll Out’ we followed a troop of recruits through their Royal Marine Commando training, attending all aspects of their LFMT and LFTT.   Throughout this phase we continued to make enhancements to the prototype system.  The outputs from Sprint 3 included capture and visualisation of data during LFMT progression, the Annual Combat Marksmanship Test (ACMT), Advanced Close Quarter Battle (ACQB), 400-600m TLFTT serials conducted at 4-600m ranges.  The culminating LFTT events captured and visualised data in the conduct of individual fire and movement, pairs fire and movement, Fire Team fire and movement, Fire Team Attack, and Section Attacks.

03. Relevance

We believe that the ability to capture all of the shots fired through a user’s career, in all forms of firing, with embedded rich data, will not only provide acceleration to their training pathway, but will allow users to keep skill levels higher more independently.

The power of aggregation will provide transparency to those who need to measure and assess performance at any level. From knowing how well a small team has performed to understanding cross-organisational performance levels will allow rapid exploitation of any developing marksmanship approaches.

The project demonstrated the benefits of an Edge-Computing approach; a system that has a light processor, power and training burden at user level (including the system operator), is quick to field and easy to carry but provides fully embedded data capture, analytics and feedback direct to users is precisely what the user wants.

Flexible connectivity modes increase flexibility and a system that uses bearers of opportunity (4G/LTE, Combat Radios, MANET etc…). It is also important that the system can provide retrospective data collation if communications are lost mid-shoot.

Being able to adapt to the scale, scope and environment of emergent future training needs (e.g. the British Army’s Future Collective Training System – FCTS) means that any system which requires formalised infrastructure, or expensive, complex, closed-loop systems would struggle to meet those aspirations. To remain relevant, we strived – and succeeded – to keep flexibility, open-architectures and scalability at the heart of this project.

04. Conclusion

  • The Lean Start Up methodology was extremely effective, and along with the benefit of having a proactive, forward looking user group, meant that we were comfortably able to reach MVP and TRL7.
  • Whilst there is some technical risk, an ‘Evolve to Open’ approach can be taken in marksmanship training, and would substantially complement the wider Defence agenda for breaking free from vendor lock-in and exploiting open architectures and emerging technologies and approaches.
  • Using Android OS and Android phones to meet an Edge Computing need was exactly the right approach to take given emerging Dismouted Situational Awareness (DSA) requirements; it future-proofs our overall concept, is specifically intended to allow for integration into a fielded DSA system, and to be ready for Training as an App (TaaA) delivery.
  • Critical to success is developing solutions that embrace the concept of Digital Readiness, starting with a data requirement, and adopting a bottom-up approach focused on individual user needs, which reduces/eliminates analogue capture methods, and is architected to do this from end-to-end.
  • We now have grounds for technical and commercial confidence that we now have a viable product requiring Productization and Marketing. We will now launch XCALIBR, as a mature product, with a rapidly crystallising product roadmap that stretches out for an initial 24 months.
  • The DASA model has been fundamental in allowing us to drive innovation across “the Valley of Death”[1].

There are a wider range of viable Delivery Models than we had originally considered. These include models with considerably less on-site contractor support than is apparent in many existing training contracts allowing greater flexibility and value for money for the end user.