Israel’s Elbit Systems [ESLT] Monday said the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) selected its Elbit Systems Electro-Optics (Elop) subsidiary to supply the company’s new MARS thermal imaging and target acquisition system.

“Elbit Systems was among the first to identify the global preference of lightweight acquisition systems designed for the individual soldier rather than the old large and heavy systems,” Haim Rousso, Elop’s general manager, said. “We consider the new system a significant milestone in this global trend and an ideal solution for the individual soldier.

Elbit was unable to disclose how many units the IDF would receive as result of the selection or a potential sales value. Industry sources believe the deal was in the millions of dollars.

MARS is a hand-held next-generation thermal imager that operates using un-cooled sensor technology. It combines a laser rangefinder, GPS, compass, day channel (CCD TV) and recording system.

The company designed the system for infantry forces and special units requiring a lightweight, low power-consumption unit with advanced observation and target acquisition capabilities, Elop said. It has a range of about 2.5 kilometers.

MARS was developed in about a year, leveraging the company’s vast experience in thermal imaging systems, a company spokesperson told Defense Daily yesterday. “It will be operational next year,” the spokesperson added.

“We anticipate growing interest among our global clients in acquiring similar systems,” Rousso said.