WASHINGTON — The U.S. Army selected two companies to develop prototypes of a next-generation laser targeting system that troops can carry and use in the field to scout locations and coordinate strikes.

Both Leonardo DRS, the Virginia-based subsidiary of Italy’s Leonardo SpA, and Elbit Systems of America, a unit of Israel’s Elbit Systems Ltd., will work on the Joint Effects Targeting System II project, or JETS II, according to contract announcements.

Neither company disclosed the value of the preliminary agreements, which will run for more than two years. An original JETS manufacturing contract awarded in 2016 was worth almost $340 million.

The JETS setup resembles a pair of futuristic, heavy-duty binoculars. It features high-end sensors, such as a rangefinder, thermal imager and celestial compass, and can connect to other digital systems to pass along information. JETS II is expected to be compatible with coordinate-seeking, laser-guided and conventional munitions.

Both Jerry Hathaway, a senior vice president and general manager at Leonardo DRS, and Erik Fox, Elbit America’s vice president of warfighter systems, said in statements the forthcoming tech is based on real-world feedback.

“We are proud to have built on the success of our JETS I technology to provide the most comprehensive hand-held target location system available today,” said Hathaway. “Leonardo DRS is known for its leading position in advanced sensors and sensor systems, and we are excited to continue this relationship with the U.S. Army over the next several years.”

The service published a request for prototype proposals for JETS II in late 2022. As many as 25 prototypes were thought necessary for testing, documents show.

Colin Demarest was a reporter at C4ISRNET, where he covered military networks, cyber and IT. Colin had previously covered the Department of Energy and its National Nuclear Security Administration — namely Cold War cleanup and nuclear weapons development — for a daily newspaper in South Carolina. Colin is also an award-winning photographer.

More In Industry