WASHINGTON — The U.S. military has selected two companies to develop prototypes of a next-generation laser targeting system that troops can carry and use in the field to scout locations and coordinate strikes.
Both Leonardo DRS, the Virginia-based subsidiary of Italy’s Leonardo SpA, and Elbit Systems of America, a unit of Israel’s Elbit Systems Ltd., will work on the Joint Effects Targeting System II, or JETS II, project, according to contract notices.
Neither company disclosed the value of the preliminary agreements, which will last more than two years. An original JETS construction contract awarded in 2016 was worth nearly $340 million.
The JETS setup looks like a pair of futuristic, heavy-duty binoculars. It has high-tech sensors such as range finder, thermal imaging and celestial compass, and can be connected to other digital systems to transmit information. JETS II is expected to be compatible with coordinate-seeking, laser-guided and conventional munitions.
Both Jerry Hathaway, senior vice president and general manager at Leonardo DRS, and Erik Fox, vice president of combat aircraft systems at Elbit America, said in statements that the upcoming technology is based on real-world feedback.
“We are proud to have built on the success of our JETS I technology to deliver the most comprehensive manual target acquisition system available today.” Hathaway said. “Leonardo DRS is known for its leadership in advanced sensors and sensor systems, and we are excited to continue this relationship with the U.S. military for years to come.”
The agency issued a request for prototype proposals for JETS II in late 2022. As many as 25 prototypes were deemed necessary for the test, the documents show.
Colin Demarest is a reporter at C4ISRNET, where he covers military networks, cyber and IT. Colin previously covered the Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration – specifically Cold War liquidation and nuclear weapons development – for a daily newspaper in South Carolina. Colin is also an award winning photographer.
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