Stay on Target

13 September 2021

From the F-35 Lightning II’s Electro-Optical Targeting System (EOTS) to the Modernised Laser Rangefinder/Designators (M-LRFD) on US Army Apache helicopters, Leonardo’s targeting lasers ensure end-users of pinpoint accuracy and operational advantage when and where it’s needed most.

This world-leading on-shore technology, developed by Leonardo engineers at the company’s Laser Centre of Excellence in Edinburgh, accounts for around 75% of the global demand for high-energy airborne military lasers.

However, the application of Leonardo’s laser technology extends beyond the airborne sector. The company’s Type 163 Laser Target Designator (LTD) offers a lightweight, compact, high-energy laser product for use by ground forces. The system was developed for Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs) who provide close air support for those on the front line.

With a proven pedigree and list of worldwide end-users, it is easy to see why this summer the British Army turned to Leonardo to help them fulfil the United Kingdom's contribution to the NATO exercise “Operation Cabrit” in Estonia.

“Our UK Armed Forces already operate Leonardo’s Type 163 LTD, and following the contract award in June, this latest procurement was able to provide the additionally requested units for immediate training purposes and for operations by the end of July,” says Type 163 Campaign Manager, Gordon Steel. “The controllers know and trust our system to deliver, and were delighted to hear we were able to support this urgent requirement without any delays.”

The designator offers an unparalleled combination of high-power, reliability and high-portability – a market-leading capability drawn from the experience of building targeting lasers for combat air applications where size, weight and power (SWAP) are critical.

“No other LTD equals the Type 163 for energy output per kilogram,” says Gordon assuredly, “and this is vital for the JTACs using the designator, as high energy is key to providing target illumination for a weapon-launching aircraft at range. I’d say competing products of equivalent SWAP/power are over three years away from production.”

With more than 750 units sold to customers in 26 countries as widespread as the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Netherlands and Belgium, the superiority of the capability offered by the Type 163 LTD speaks for itself.

“Our reputation with customers such as the British Army is something we’re all very proud of,” says Gordon. “They know when we deliver the Type 163 Laser Targeting Designator, they are getting an operationally proven piece of kit that is available as soon as they need it and that is instantly going to give them the operational advantage they need in the field.”