US Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) engineers are developing a one-way luminescence (OWL) tracer round that will enable the shooter to follow the projectile trajectory to make aiming corrections.
To improve shooter accuracy, the new tracer can perform its function during the day and night, while reducing the visual signature.
The tracer round provides the shooter with the ability to see where the round is going without revealing their position at the location.
The OWL programme quality assurance lead Christel Seitel said: "OWL is a technology approach that does not allow an enemy target to trace back to who is firing rounds at him, even if the target is using night vision goggles.
"We are just putting a thin layer of material on the back of the ball round. So, instead of burning pyrotechnics, our luminescence is like a glow-in-the-dark sticker. You excite it with specific wavelengths of light.
"The ultimate goal is to replace the tracer rounds with the OWL rounds and, potentially, put OWL on the back of every ball round."
Currently, ARDEC scientists are looking at options for different coatings and materials to find a solution which can meet the US Army's requirement to be both a day and night tracer.
Seitel added: "Because we do not completely know what path we are taking, we are looking at all our options and we will hopefully down select in a few years."
A final OWL design is expected to be in place in the fiscal year 2017.
The development is supported by ARDEC, the Program Executive Office for Ammunition, the Joint Service Small Arms Program Office, Army Corps of Engineers, Army Research Laboratory, Naval Research Laboratory and Night Vision Laboratory.
Meanwhile, multiple contracts seeking prototype designs from industry have been awarded using the Defense Ordnance Technology Consortium process.
Image: A tracer rounds allows the shooter to follow the projectile trajectory to make aiming corrections. Photo: courtesy of the US Army.