Northrop Grumman supplies the Marine Corps with a next-generation man-portable target device

Workers at Northrop Grumman’s plant in Apopka, Fla., produce components for advanced radio frequency and electro-optical infrared defense systems in October 2021. (Northrop Grumman)

According to a company news release Tuesday, the Marine Corps awarded Northrop Grumman a $252 million contract to provide infantry troops with the next generation of targeting equipment.

The next-generation Handheld Targeting System, or NGHTS, will allow a Marine to transmit targeting information to artillery, aircraft, loitering drones, missile systems or warships waiting offshore. According to the defense company, the system will work even if GPS is denied or unavailable.

“NGHTS will significantly enhance Marines’ ability to identify ground targets in a variety of conditions,” said Bob Gough, the company’s vice president, in the press release.

“NGHTS is linked to military networks and can provide superior situational awareness and accurate coordinates for delivery of effects from outside line of sight.”

Work on the new system is being conducted at the company’s defense microelectronics facility in Apopka, Florida.

According to Northrop Grumman, the system can quickly acquire targets, provide laser guidance and laser spot imaging. It is equipped with high-resolution long-range infrared sensors, a high-resolution color display and a day and night sky compass.

Each unit weighs less than 10 pounds, including batteries, Gough said in an email to Stars and Stripes on Friday.

Delivery of the first units is expected in 2023; The contract is scheduled to be fulfilled by February 17, 2030, according to a Pentagon contract announcement.

NGHTS is designed to replace four older targeting systems used by the Marines, Gough said. They use the Portable Lightweight Designator Rangefinder, Joint Terminal Attack Controller, Laser Target Designator and Thermal Laser Spot Imager, according to the Marines’ Systems Command website.

“NGHTS is a multifunction device that combines the capabilities of multiple legacy systems into a single portable unit,” Gough said in his email. “For the customer, this means fewer systems that need maintenance over time. In a mission scenario, this means Marines need to carry less gear to achieve the same or better performance.”

Headquartered in Falls Church, Virginia, Northrop Grumman is a global aerospace, defense and security company employing 90,000 people. According to the company, the majority of its dealings are with the US government, mainly with the Department of Defense and the secret services.

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