The joint Pocket-sized Forward Entry Device (PFED) is a new military grade Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) application designed primarily for forward observers, artillery fire direction and target acquisition missions. The PFED is an integrated system, comprising of communications-enabled RPDA, GPS receiver and laser range-finding binoculars. Similar systems also support intelligence reporting. Similar systems are currently under development to support specific forward air control, mortar fire control and special operations non-line-of-sight missile planning/management applications.
The integration of GPS and laser binoculars enables the user to instantaneously acquire direction, distance and vertical interval to the target, determining heading and speed of moving targets. This data provides local calculation of the target coordinates. The operator can add target information to the report, such as type of target, or munitions selected for the attack.
Previously forward observers used maps and radio to pinpoint target location, determine grid coordinates and verbally call in fire requests. A typical fire order sequence could take over 45 seconds. With the PFED, this process is shrinking to less than 10 seconds and is much more reliable and accurate, due to all range and location calculations processed and transferred between machines, eliminating the human error risk. The next version of PFED, expected to be released by the end of 2004, is to contain an embedded military GPS further reducing size, system power consumption and weight of the system. Integration with the laser/binocular will also be simplified using Bluetooth wireless networking technology.