Northrop Grumman to supply Special Forces with lightweight laser target designators

CRANE, Ind., 12 March 2014. Laser targeting experts at the Northrop Grumman Corp. Laser Systems segment in Apoka, Fla., will provide U.S. Special Forces with specialized laser target designator viewing devices under terms of a $12.3 million U.S. Navy contract announced Monday.

Officials of the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Crane, Ind., are asking Northrop Grumman Laser Systems for Special Operating Force Laser Aiming Marker (SOFLAM) Ground Laser Target Designator (GLTD) electro-optical systems, as well as spare parts and repair services.

SOFLAM GLTD is a ruggedized laser designator designed for Special Forces that enables the user to designate targets with laser beams that guide precision-guided munitions to the targets. It provides the capability of combining two guidance choices: hand-off to aircraft or standalone terminal guidance.

The SOFLAM lightweight integrated laser designator and rangefinder provides Special Operations Forces with the ability to locate and designate critical enemy targets for destruction using laser-guided ordnance.

Related: Laser target designators augment GPS with celestial navigation to enhance accuracy

The SOFLAM is capable of remote firing and for mounting accessories such as pointers and night sights, Northrop Grumman officials say. It can be carried by one person, and can be operated remotely during covert operations.

The SOFLAM enables Special Forces warfighters to remain undetected while they put accurate, precision-guided munitions exactly on target, Northrop Grumman officials say. The system uses a neodymium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet (Nd:YAG) laser with a wavelength of 1064 nanometers, and pulse energy of 80 millijoules.

SOFLAM saw action in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom with Special Operations Forces, Joint Terminal Attack Controllers, and Forward Air Controllers to designate valuable and time-sensitive targets for precision munitions in Afghanistan and Iraq, Northrop Grumman officials say.

Company laser experts have developed an advanced version of the SOFLAM that is smaller, lighter, and operates from one BA-5590 battery by replacing a flashlamp-pumped laser with a diode-pumped laser with passive cooling.

Related: Air Force approaches industry for COTS-based targeting system for forward air controllers

The SOFLAM PEQ-1C reduces the number of BA 5590 batteries necessary for operation from five to one, and provides the warfighter with a smaller, lighter, and more efficient rugged laser designator for the field, company officials say. It has a range of 650 feet to 12 miles with one-meter accuracy.

Under terms of this contract, Northrop Grumman will provide SOFLAM systems to U.S. military forces, as well as those of Romania and Lithuania. Northrop Grumman will do the work in Apoka, Fla., and should be finished by March 2018.

For more information contact Northrop Grumman Laser Systems online at www.northropgrumman.com, or the Naval Surface Warfare Center-Crane at www.navsea.navy.mil/nswc/crane.

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