Army handheld targeting system enhances air-ground connectivity

The system transmits on-the-ground data and provides a secure digital connection for requesting call-for-fire.

Thanks to a new handheld targeting system, front-line soldiers can boost the accuracy of drone strikes and other air support. DRS Technologies has received a five-year, $339 million contract from the U.S. Army to develop the Joint Effects Targeting System (JETS).

The system transmits on-the-ground data and provides a secure digital connection for requesting call-for-fire, which improves the accuracy of precision guided munitions.

“JETS will give forward observers the capability to call in precision munitions in all scenarios, leading to less munitions expended, higher target success rates and ultimately, greater protection for our warfighters on the ground,” said Shawn Black, vice president and general manager of the DRS Electro-Optical and Infrared Systems line of business.

The systems will deploy to Special Operation units in late 2018.

According to DRS, the device features include day and thermal night-vision sights, celestial compass sensors, an eye-safe laser range-finder and a digital magnetic compass.

Army soldiers currently use the Lightweight Laser Designator Rangefinder, which clocks in at a hefty 35 pounds. Comparatively, the new handheld module barely pushes 5 pounds.

The device will also allow forward observers to employ precision targeting munitions such as the Joint Direct Attack Munition, Excalibur and laser-guided bombs. Maj. Rob Heatherly, the assistant product manager for JETS for Product Manager Soldier Precision Targeting Devices, said, "It will give such an accurate location that it can cut a lot out of the loop. If your unit is under duress and needs to use a precision munition, it can go ahead."


DRS, which specializes in cybersecurity and communications networks, won another massive Army contract earlier this year. The Arlington-based company scored $400 million to design the Joint Assault Bridge system, a bridge-carrying tank that helps ground forces cross chasms.