By David Crane
August 13, 2009
BAE Systems has just won a five-year, $347 million ($347M) to produce, maintain, and provide logistical support for 200 digital handheld Laser Target Locator Modules (LTLM) per month for the U.S. Army for an indefinite period of time, presumably until the $347M runs out, unless the contract is extended. BAE is partnering with Swiss company Vectronix Inc. (U.S. Division of Vectronix AG, Switzerland) to do this. The Laser Target Locator Module is essentially an thermal binocular that’s being described by BAE officials as the Blackberry of tactical optronics/electro-optical devices, since it integrates a direct-view optic system, thermal/IR (Infrared) imager/camera, laser rangefinder, digital compass, and GPS receiver into one relatively lightweight device (considering all the goodies it packs) that weighs under 5.5 pounds (5.5 lbs). The thermal/IR “night vision camera” is derived from the thermal cameras used in BAE Systems’ advanced thermal weapon sights.
“These modules will enable soldiers to determine target coordinates quickly, safely, and accurately,” said Dan Murray, LTLM program director for BAE Systems in Nashua, New Hampshire. “The system provides a much-needed capability in a single, lightweight package. Removing weight from soldiers’ packs makes their jobs easier and enables them to complete missions faster and with greater precision.” The LTLM reportedly has an effective range of 3+ miles.
The Laser Target Locator Module (LTLM) is lighter than the 7.4-pound Vectronix Moskito Long Range Thermal Video(LRTV) system, which features a cooled thermal imager and color video camera as primary sensors, coupled with an integrated laser rangefinder, digital magnetic compass, GPS, laser pointer, and PLGR/DAGR interface to integrate into target acquisition systems.
The U.S. Army contract would appear to be a pretty big get for BAE Systems and Vectronix Inc., since the Laser Target Locator Module (LTLM) isn’t the only product of its kind on the market. Here’s a quick rundown of other companies’ offerings in this product sector:
– Northrop Grumman SOFLAM PEQ-1C laser designator/marker. “SOFLAM” stands for “Special Operations Forces Laser Acquisition Marker”, and it’s designed to enable SOF personnel to instantly laser-designate/mark enemy targets from long distance, so ground attack and CAS (Close Air Support) aircraft can destroy said targets in the shortest amount of time possible. At 11.3 lbs (5.2 kg), a size of 11.2 x 13.2 x 5.2 inches, and a volume of 435 cubic inches (7,100 cubic cm), the SOFLAM is manpackable/manportable, and offers a marking/designating capability in excess of 10 kilometers (10 km, or 10 “clicks”). Ranging distance is 200 to 19995 meters (± 1 meter). Click here to view the SOFLAM PEQ-1C fact sheet.
– FLIR Systems MilCam Recon III LocatIR and MilCam Recon III ObservIR series. The MilCam Recon III LocatIR Ultra-light version weighs 5 lbs (2.3 kg) and utilizes a large-format 640×480 long-wave VOx Microbolometer with automatic digital image processor. Defense Update reports that the he Recon III Lite thermal binocular combines the same sensor used in the Ultralite model with high resolution (768×494) color video camera.
– Northrop Grumman Lightweight Laser Designator Rangefinder (AN/PED-1 LLDR), which, according to the company, provides a unique capability to Forward Observers, Forward Air Controllers and Naval Gunfire Spot Teams. The system can recognize targets in day/night/obscurant conditions, range to the target at an eyesafe wavelength, and calculate grid coordinates with its own GPS/Elevation/Azimuth capability. The system then provides this information to other members of the Digital Battlefield. Also included is a NATO coded laser designator for use with Semi-Active Laser Guided Missiles and Laser Spot Trackers.
– Elbit Systems Electro-Optics Ltd. (Elop) AN/PAS-25 Thermal Laser Spot Imager (TLSI) handheld thermal/IR sight with laser spot tracking capability. According to Defense Update, the AN/PAS-25 TLSI “can monitor the aim point of a laser designator beam, or laser rangefinder ‘spot’, assisting target identification.”
– Elbit Systems Electro-Optics Ltd. (Elop) MARS, which integrates an uncooled thermal sensor, day channel, laser rangefinder, GPS, compass and integral recording system. The MARS is in use with IDF Special Forces. It’s reportedly lightweight and maintains low power consumption for dismounted operations.
– Elbit Systems Electro-Optics Ltd. (Elop) Medium Range Thermal Binocular (MRTB), which weighs 3.75 lbs (1.7 kg) and utilizes a high performance uncooled Long Wave InfraRed (LWIR) thermal sensor coupled with 3X optical zoom designed for narrow-field of view.
– Carl Zeiss Optronics Opus H integrates an uncooled IR channel, laser rangefinder and digital camera. Defense Update reports that it weighs 2.9 kg without batteries and is powered by 8 AA batteries sustaining 3.5 hours of operation
Company Contact Info:
Email: [email protected]
Email: [email protected]
Vectronix Inc. USA
801 Sycolin Road SE
Leesburg, VA 20175
Vectronix AG Switzerland
Phone: +41 71 726 72 00
Fax: +41 71 726 72 01