Canada has sent eleven Ferret sniper detection systems to Afghanistan, where Canadian troops are serving as peacekeepers. The Ferret uses acoustic sensors and a computer system to quickly provide bearing, range, elevation, trajectory, bullet miss-distance and caliber of a projectile fired near the Ferret system. An audio alarm also goes off to alert nearby troops that they are being shot at. The system will detect shots fired within a kilometer, depending on weather conditions and the number of nearby buildings or trees. The system works well in urban areas and in the open.
The Ferret systems cost $100,000 each and are mounted in Coyote wheeled armored vehicles, which the Canadian troops use for patrols. The Ferret can also be mounted in a fixed location. One of the Ferret systems is used as a spare, with the other ten regularly used for patrolling. Two more systems are in Canada where they are used for training.
The system worked under combat conditions, but the troops have requested that the audible alarm be changed to give a verbal warning along the lines of Shot fired, five oclock, so that troops can respond more quickly. The developers are also working to increase the speed of response, and tweaking the software to increase accuracy. The technology that makes Ferret possible has been around for a few years (faster computers and better acoustic sensors), and several countries have developed similar systems. The Ferret was developed in Canada, and if the development team can tweak the system to higher performance than competing ones, the Ferret could become a best seller in the peacekeeping market. Peacekeepers, in particular, have to deal with a lot of people who like take a shot or two at you, and then run off, to do it again some other time, if you dont catch them. And then theres the problem with real snipers, who often hit someone on the first shot, and stay hidden. Ferret lowers the lifespan of snipers by giving away their location after the first shot.