The Marine Corps has selected four companies to bring its next-generation handheld targeting system to life, with the goal of working toward development of prototype systems to replace its legacy trackers, officials said Thursday.

BAE Systems, Elbit Systems of America, Fraser Optics and Northrop Grumman [NOC] were awarded Other Transaction Authorities to study system capabilities for the Next Generation Handheld Targeting System (NGHTS) and provide potential options to Marine Corps Systems Command (MCSC).

Photo: Marine Corps.
Photo: Marine Corps.

“We will collect the findings by the second quarter of fiscal year 2019 and choose one or more vendors to move onto phase two where they will develop and demonstrate prototypes,” Megan Full, contracting specialist for MCSC’s Program Manager – Fires, said in a statement.

NGHTS is intended to serve as a single, lightweight man-portable system Marines can use to rapidly track targets and generate target location data during combat operations, according to MCSC officials.

The system will replace the Portable Lightweight Designator Rangefinder, Joint Terminal Attack Controller, Laser Target Designator and Thermal Laser Spot Imager.

“For the last four years, we have worked diligently to explore an option that condenses the legacy versions into one lightweight system with a reliable power supply that is rugged enough to throw onto a Marine’s pack,” Jeff Nebel, fire support coordination team lead for PM Fires, said in a statement. “The NGHTS will combine all of the legacy capabilities into one system that is compatible with both current and future fire support systems, and will support the Marine Corps for the next 15 to 20 years.”

The four companies are tasked with providing insight on target recognition, location and designation ranges for NGHTS, and working on allowing the system to integrate with the current Target Handoff System version 2.0 to gather target information.