JERUSALEM — A new lightweight, passive targeting fire-support system demonstrated by Elbit Systems seeks to conceal an operator while the user monitors and identifies a target.
Existing systems often use a laser and azimuth to designate targets for artillery, bombing or other missions; for instance the Joint Effects Targeting System, used by the U.S. Army, weighs about 10 kilograms (approximately 22 pounds) with its tripod, and it uses a laser.
But the HattoriX did not use a laser during Monday’s demonstration held not far from the border with Gaza in a field near Sderot, Israel. Without a laser, the chance of being detected by an enemy is mitigated.
The HattoriX was displayed in two types: a lightweight version on a tripod with a payload of about 10 kilograms, and a heavier version of 30 kilograms. Elbit envisions the heavier version being used against targets about 10 kilometers away, and the smaller one for targets less than 5 kilometers away. In the demo, the operator pointed the optics at a farmhouse more than 1 kilometer away.
The lightweight version looks like a tablet computer attached to a tripod and a goniometer. Both versions have a remote control capability. The operator, looking at the overlay of real-time data on the map, can choose targets by marking them on the screen, receiving data such as altitude and allowing the user to precisely identify the target. Then the target information can be sent back to a command-and-control center.
The system integrates with Elbit’s ISTAR and other systems, but it can be used with other electro-optical devices.
“You can scan your target with an optical device, layering the image on your [geographical information system], and from that you get your accurate coordinates," said Arie Chernobrov, CEO of Elbit’s Security and Tactical EO Solutions-ELSEC division. “The main advantages are that the accuracy is very high to transmit to command accurate intelligence information and to protect your team, which is using a passive system that will not be hit by enemy forces.”
When a forward observer arrives at a post, the user can set up the system digitally through a software wizard that completes the process in a matter of minutes. And using an internal GPS, operators can pinpoint their location on the map of the device. Then, operating remotely or sitting in a concealed position, the team can observe the target over hours or days.
However, the system requires map data be uploaded prior to deployment.
“We think it’s a new approach,” Chernobrov said. “We are in the business of target acquisition systems for many years, and in the past used the traditional goniometer and lasers." He said the difference between the previous generation and this new system is the accuracy, with an error of less than 6 meters (CAT-1 targets).
Elbit designed the HattoriX with an interface that would be familiar to anyone using a smartphone or who plays video games. Elbit is pushing this system as a solution for small forces, such as reconnaissance teams, joint terminal attack controllers, forward air controllers and intelligence units. It will face competition with existing systems, such as the latest Joint Effects Targeting System model, which was rolled out in September, and the Lightweight Laser Designator Rangefinder 3 program of Leonardo DRS.
HattoriX is currently operational with an undisclosed client.