By Leon Price, Test Officer, Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate, U.S. Army Operational Test Command Public Affairs
FORT BRAGG, N.C. — Forward observers, experts in calling for fires directing artillery and mortar fire onto enemy targets, hit the mark in testing a new piece of targeting equipment recently.
“Black Falcon” Soldiers of Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 2nd Battalion, 319th Field Artillery Regiment, put their hands on the Joint Effects Targeting System (JETS) — a modular, man-portable, hand-held, day/night, all-weather, target observation, location, and designation system.
Components of the JETS include a Handheld Target Location Module (HTLM); a Laser Marker Module (LMM); and a Precision Azimuth Vertical Angle Module, all atop a tripod.
Sgt. 1st Class Ryan Orouke, a test non-commissioned officer with the U.S. Army Operational Test Command’s Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate (ABNSOTD), said JETS testing collects data to determine its suitability, reliability and survivability when conducting static line airborne operations, in a door bundle configuration for airdrops.
HHB Troopers spent four days in New Equipment Training (NET) from the Program Manager Soldier Precision Targeting Devices office out of Fort Belvoir, VA.
Sgt. 1st Class Juan Cruz, ABNSOTD assistant JETS test NCO, said that NET places the Soldiers in practical exercises which validate their being able to use the equipment in their missions.
After NET validation, Orouke said the “Black Falcons” put JETS through its paces by performing seven combat equipment jumps and several door bundle drops, making sure that when JETS hits the ground after the jump, that it still functions.
After each airborne operation, the “Black Falcon” forward observers assembled the equipment, then began identifying and designating enemy personnel and vehicle targets in day and night conditions.
Targets were arrayed over rolling terrain from 800 meters to over 2,500 meters away, then test data was gathered to prepare a test report so senior Army leaders can make procurement decisions on JETS.
“Operational testing, provides Soldiers the opportunity to use, work with, and offer up their own suggestions on pieces of equipment that can impact development of systems that future Soldiers will use in combat,” said Col. Brad Mock, the director of all the Army’s Airborne testing.
Upon completion of testing, JETS could potentially be issued to Army Light and Airborne Artillery forces worldwide, signaling the first steps in upgrading the target acquisition of Artillerymen.
JETS testing will continue into 2018 at several military installations.
The U.S. Army Operational Test Command is based at West Fort Hood, Texas, and its mission is about making sure that systems developed are effective in a Soldier’s hands and suitable for the environments in which Soldiers train and fight. Test units and their Soldiers provide feedback, by offering input to improve upon existing and future systems with which Soldiers will ultimately use to train and fight.
The Fort Bragg, North Carolina-based ABNSOTD plans, executes, and reports on operational tests and field experiments of Airborne and Special Operations Forces equipment, procedures, aerial delivery and air transportation systems in order to provide key operational data for the continued development and fielding of doctrine, systems or equipment to the Warfighter.