The US Marine Corps (USMC) has chosen Northrop Grumman to develop advanced targeting systems with the aim of delivering improved capability.

Northrop Grumman will build prototype Next Generation Handheld Targeting Systems (NGHTS) that will help forward-deployed observers in the rapid acquisition of targets with greater precision.

The USMC is looking for a compact, rugged, lightweight, man-portable system that will enable marines to quickly acquire targets and perform guidance.

The NGHTS also allows users to generate target location data during combat operations.

Northrop Grumman land and avionics C4ISR vice-president Bob Gough said: “Our latest solution, based on our decades of experience in delivering handheld targeting systems, will provide the mobility and precision that forward observers need.

“Combined with network connectivity, these capabilities will enable more informed and rapid targeting decisions.”

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The systems built under the second phase of the NGHTS programme will deliver a single, lightweight system that will combine legacy capabilities including target location, laser spot imaging, and laser target designation.

The NGHTS solution will replace three legacy systems operated by the USMC.

Northrop Grumman has so far supplied over 20,000 target location and designation systems to the US Department of Defense.

In December last year, the USMC awarded four other transaction authorities (OTAs) to BAE Systems, Elbit Systems of America, Fraser Optics and Northrop Grumman Systems for the first phase of the NGHTS programme.

The OTAs were intended to evaluate the capability to produce the NGHTS solution. The objective of the first phase was to gain insights into the best possible solution.

The NGHTS system is expected to significantly reduce the current weight of the laser designation and laser spot imaging capability to enable the improved mobility of marines.