Elbit Systems is demonstrating several new systems providing ground forces with better, safer air support. A new device already deployed in combat units is a lightweight, hand-held target designator and illuminator called Rattler. This handgun like piece employs miniaturized Diode-Pumped Laser (DPL) and simple but efficient aiming device enabling troops to mark
targets several kilometers away, enabling pilots to quickly identify the target and pursue with the attack. The Rattler can also be used to designate such targets for precision, laser guided attack.
The officer responsible for coordinating those air attacks (Joint Tactical Air Controller – JTAC) commonly use a large and heavy laser target designation system to mark the target for precision attack. The JTAC provides a critical element in ensuring the attack hits only the designated target and maintain friendly units or non combatant bystanders unharmed. Elbit Systems is now introducing a new, portable target designation system, enabling the JTAC to dismount and deploy to forward position with minimal weight load, using the Serpent-M, (formerly known JTAC-LTD). This ultra-light, battery-powered laser target designator and marker is small enough to be carried by foot-mobile war fighters, enabling soldiers to designate targets for laser-guided bombs, missiles and other munitions. The Serpent-M incorporates the Rattler designator along with a thermal imager and daylight optics.
To further reduce the risk of fratricide, warfighters are beginning to employ advanced thermal beacons to mark their position to friendly thermal imaging systems. Elbit is introducing two such systems, the MK V designed for dismounted applications and the MK II strobe system designed for dismounted or mobile applications. The spectral characteristics of the beacons covers NIR, MWIR and LWIR. In practical terms the MK V beacon can be used as an invisible flashlight, visible only through thermal imagers widely used in Afghanistan, as they offer good performance in dark starless nights and effective detection of human or vehicular targets at extended range. Typical applications of the beacon passage of lines; near-far signaling; and guidance of vehicles and aircraft. The MK-V is a reliable hand optical IFF providing positive force identification.