NEWS | March 16, 2018

Field Artillery Soldiers Test New Precision Targeting System to Find Friend or Foe on Battlefield

By Staff Sgt. Timothy Phillips Test NCO, Fire Support Test Directorate, U.S. Army Operational Test Command Public Affairs

FORT GREELY, Alaska -- Twenty Field Artillery Soldiers are testing the Joint Effects Targeting System Target Laser Designation System (JETS-TLDS) at the Cold Regions Test Center here.

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

Soldiers from Battery D, 2nd Battalion, 8th Field Artillery stationed at Fort Wainwright, Alaska and Battery D, 2nd Battalion, 377 Parachute Field Artillery Regiment stationed at Anchorage, Alaska, are teaming up in a rigorous operational test on this new precision targeting device in the rugged Alaska terrain.

The teams used the system in a wide spectrum of operations. They used the infrared imager (IRI) and color day imager (CDI) to detect, recognize, and identify vehicles and personnel at various distances to determine whether they are friend or foe.

They also used the system in a simulated urban environment, where the Soldiers cleared multiple buildings and occupied rooftops and rooms to observe opposing forces in the city.

"Since the system is smaller you don't have to worry about bumping it around when clearing a building," said Sgt. Nicholas Apperson of Battery D, 2-377 PFAR. "If you have to switch buildings, disassembling and reassembling the system is much quicker than other targeting devices."

When it came time to use the LMM to mark targets for a live-fire with an AH-64 Apache from 1st Battalion, 25th Infantry Division Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, all of the test unit Soldier volunteered at once.

Unfortunately, there was only enough ammo to have four teams participate.

"With the push that the Army is making for all Fire Support Specialists to become Joint Fires Observers (JFO), the LMM provides a tool at the platoon level that allows us to designate and mark targets for aircraft," said Pfc. Anthony Greenwood of Battery D, 2-8 FA.

"Its light weight makes it easy to take it out on a mission and utilize it to its fullest capability."

During the last three weeks of the test, all 10 teams exercised the system's ability to determine target location.

Soldiers were set at randomized objective rally points (ORPs) ranging from 500 meters to 2 kilometers from their observation posts (OPs). They then conducted a tactical movement from ORP to OP.

After occupying their individual OPs, they would find targets all around them and determine exactly where they were at using the JETS TLDS.

The Soldiers would then use the Precision Fires-Dismounted (PF-D), which is an application used on NET Warrior by fire supporters to digitally transmit fire missions, to develop a fire mission and send it to a simulated company fire support team (FIST).

On average, they sent 40 fire missions each 10-hour day.

"The JETS system is definitely much lighter and a lot easier to pick up and learn all the functions quickly," said Staff Sgt. Christopher McKoy of Battery D, 2-8 FA.

"It is so simple that you can pick it up and learn it in five minutes."

Other real-world training was forward observers conducting movement with a maneuver unit. Here, they would walk a ridge line and receive simulated intelligence reports of enemy targets at certain points along their route. After receiving the reports, the teams would be forced to establish a hasty OP and acquire targets quickly.

After spending a month with the targeting systems, most Soldiers were ready for the system to be fielded.

"This system is definitely a major jump from what forward observers are used to and makes our job much more efficient," said Spc. Tyler Carlson of Battery D, 2-377 PFAR.

"I believe that this system would be an effective tool to detect and acquire targets of opportunity in many of the theaters that we are fighting in today," McKoy said.


About the U.S. Army Operational Test Command:

As the Army's only independent operational tester, USAOTC tests 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 USAOTC to test major systems before they are fielded to its ultimate customer, the American Soldier.