By Leon Price, Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate, U.S. Army Operational Test Command
/ Published August 25, 2017
Forward observers -- experts in calling for artillery and mortar fire and directing that ordnance onto enemy targets -- hit the mark in testing a new piece of targeting equipment here recently.
"Black Falcon" Army paratroopers of Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 2nd Battalion, 319th Field Artillery Regiment, tested the effectiveness and durability of the Joint Effects Targeting System, a modular, soldier-portable, handheld, day/night, all-weather, target observation, location and designation system.
JETS components include a handheld target location module, a laser marker module and a precision azimuth vertical angle module, all items mounted atop a tripod.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Ryan Orouke, a test noncommissioned officer with the U.S. Army Operational Test Command's Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate, said JETS testing collects data to determine the system’s 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 from the Program Manager Soldier Precision Targeting Devices office out of Fort Belvoir, Virginia.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Juan Cruz, assistant JETS test NCO, said that NET places the soldiers in practical exercises to test the equipment.
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 JETS still functions after it reaches the ground.
After each airborne operation, forward observers assembled the equipment, and 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. Test data was then gathered to prepare a 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 suggestions on pieces of equipment that can impact development of systems that future soldiers will use in combat," said Army Col. Brad Mock, the director of Army Airborne testing.
Upon completion of testing, JETS could potentially be issued to Army light and airborne artillery forces worldwide.
JETS testing will continue into 2018 at several military installations.