U.S. field artillery soldiers test new laser targeting system

The U.S. Army Field Artillery Soldiers tested the Joint Effects Targeting System Target Laser Designation System (JETS-TLDS) at the Cold Regions Test Center in Fort Greely, Alaska.

The JETS-TLDS is a modular advanced sensor suite of three components, the hand-held target location module, precision azimuth and vertical angle module, and laser marker module.

According to Staff Sgt. Timothy S. Phillips, a Research, Development, Test & Evaluation NCO from the U.S. Army Operational Test Command’s Fires Test Directorate, forward observer are an essential part of the modern battlefield.

“FOs have a critical role as a key element of a Fire Support Team; providing indirect fire support at the company/troop level,” said Phillips. “JETS-TLDS allows the FOs to quickly acquire and locate targets for any given fire mission.”

Additionally, the system provides 24/7 all-weather precision targeting and target-acquisition to support dismounted operations.

Each test day involved 10 hours of operational use and averaged 40 target acquisitions per FO team. The test provided the FO teams an operationally realistic approach to detect, recognize, and identify targets in a tactical environment.

Soldiers were dropped off at a release point where they began a tactical foot movement over the mountainous Alaskan terrain at elevations between 1,000-2,500 meters at several different observation posts. Upon arriving at their OP, they set up the system and established their location by using system self-location methods. JETS-TLDS also assists in determining the category of accuracy for each target location acquired by the FO.

The current legacy system issued to FOs is the Vector 21 Laser Target Locator, Mark VII, and the Target Reconnaissance Infrared Geolocating Range Finder.

JETS-TLDS provides a designator and marking device in a system that has a total weight of approximately 20 pounds which includes a tripod, and batteries.

Operational testing of equipment systems allow senior Army leaders to have the Soldier’s opinion and recommendations to make an educated decision on full rate production, according to Lt. Col. Michael P. Frank, project manager at Soldier Sensors and Lasers (PM SSL) out of Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

As the Army’s only independent operational tester, USAOTC tests and assesses Army, joint, and multi-service warfighting systems in realistic operational environments, using representative Soldiers to determine whether a system is effective, suitable, and survivable. Public law requires OTC to test major systems before they are fielded to its ultimate customer, the American Soldier.

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Robert J. Stoll, Fires Test Directorate, U.S. Army Operational Test Command

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