"Generals always fight the last war": development of precise target acquisition systems

Such systems are a necessity for effective attacks as well as force protection 

Photo: Asio Technologies

The modern battlefield environment has become more and more complex. Future operations in the modern battlefield will be characterized by the indeterminate nature of the threats, their adaption abilities, and the dynamic change. 

The emerging threats in the operational environment will be of different types, sizes, capacities, and origins. Those emerging threats can be from regular military forces to insurgent forces, which could be transformed into networks, enabling them to multiply their operational effectiveness and efficiency in the new age of warfare.

The modern warfare and battlefield are being shaped by three major trends: asymmetric adversaries, ever-escalating costs of modern weaponry, and maintaining deterrence in an environment of a growing arms race.

Maintaining deterrence and gaining operational capabilities in the modern battlefield are being built on accurate weapons, munitions, and special operations units, operating in silence, hitting, and disappearing. 

Precise target acquisition systems are the basis for executing ground operations, enabling special operations units' snipers, fire support, artillery, mortars, and aerial support. 

Precise target acquisition systems are a necessity for force protection on one hand, and on the other hand, they are needed for high precision and effective attacks: Smart to the point. 

Disruptive new technologies are the key enablers for the development of precise weapons and munitions. More than that, new technologies are also key enablers for the advanced development of modern precise target acquisition systems. 

The main applications for precise target acquisition systems are: 

•    Guns and field artillery preparation, positioning, and alignment as pre-conditions for the accurate firing of artillery shells, rockets, mortars, etc. 

•    Direct artillery and mortar fire at a target by a forward artillery observer or spotter

•    Forward Air Control for close air support and spotter for naval gunfire support

•    Joint Terminal Attack Control (JTAC) in joint operations and in a complex environment 

•    Surveillance, Intelligence & Reconnaissance (SIR) operations and intelligence gathering missions

•    Sniper missions

•    Navigation and orientation in challenging areas and terrains. 

The new-age precise target acquisition systems feature disruptive technologies, which enable them to be more adaptable, stealthy, and effective, providing resilient combat capabilities. 

Precise target acquisition systems should incorporate several critical capabilities, such as measurement of distance to long-range targets, high accuracy, day or night operation, redundancy, independence from GNSS, low power consumption, and resilient to shocks, vibrations, humidity, extreme temperatures and other conditions.  

Modern precise target acquisition systems should incorporate real-time interoperability capabilities for command and control systems, fire support missions, and joint operations. 

An additional capability of modern precise target acquisition systems is full integration with weapon systems and sensors, such as RF radars, laser finders, CCD/IR cameras, and SIGINT systems, on mobile or stationary tripods and a pedestal. 

Passive targeting capabilities are a critical feature of precise target acquisition systems. The passive capabilities enable the operators to accomplish their missions in urban and other complex environments in which the adversaries operate electronic warfare systems, RF receivers, and laser detectors. The capabilities enable the operators to avoid being revealed by the adversaries' forces. 

The Pointer is a man-portable target acquisition system developed and produced by the Israeli company Asio Technologies. 

The Pointer is designed to deliver high accuracy target coordinates and full-scale fire support and mission planning capabilities for the Forward Observer (FO), Fire Support Teams (FIST), Forward Air Controller (FAC), and for artillery gun laying and battery targeting and fire support. The Pointer system can be operated during the day, at night, and in all weather conditions. 

It has advanced features embedded in its architecture which grants it unique capabilities and unmatched performance.

The Pointer is based on mobile architecture for low power consumption and long mission duration. The system has an integrated mission computer packed with essential GIS tools and mission planning capabilities. 

The Pointer is typically mounted on a tripod or other fixed position and serves as a docking station for Electro-Optical and Infra-Red sensors. The system has a large payload capacity and can easily integrate into any third-party observation sensors such as DVO's, thermal imagers, laser rangefinders, CMOS/SWIR cameras, and laser designators.

Other unique features of the Pointer are north-finding application enabling true/grid north finding within seconds, without prior knowledge of the mission's area, innovative software interface, providing intuitive and straightforward targeting and fire coordination, facilitating all-digital, all visual MMI, enabling targeting to be performed on digital maps and other visual aids.

The Pointer has a passive targeting capability to continuously acquire static or moving targets without using a laser range finder or any other energy-emitting component, which an adversary's forces can reveal. 

The Pointer has full command and control capabilities, complete with GIS, digital maps, connectivity to all Battle Management Systems, enabling data dissemination (both inside and outside) of target and mission parameters both horizontally and laterally.

The Pointer is a modern precise target acquisition system that enables mobile forces, artillery units, aerial and naval support platforms, and commando units to perform today's missions and prepare for the future battlefield's unique characteristics. 

For the modern and complex battlefield environment, the Pointer provides generals with operational and strategic opportunities to cope with emerging threats and dynamic situations.

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