NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — The handheld laser marker tactics development and evaluation project team of 14 people from the 605th Test and Evaluation Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Fla., Naval Special Warfare Group Four, Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story Virginia Beach, Va. and the 422nd TES conducted a test from Dec. 9 through 13, to collect data on the capabilities of the LA-10u/PEQ handheld laser marker on the Nevada Test and Training Range.
A handheld laser maker is a device used to mark locations for aircraft pilots to drop their munitions.
The LA-10u/PEQ handheld laser marker is a small, lightweight device that emits NATO Band I/II compatible coded laser energy to quickly mark and handoff targets for engagement with precision guided munitions.
The LA-10u/PEQ is currently functional in the field by ground war fighters downrange such as joint terminal attack controllers.
The HLMTDE project team gathered the data on the capabilities of the LA-10u/PEQ handheld laser marker to determine its use as a handheld laser designator by the Department of Defense.
“Our objective is not to prove this device will work as a designator,” said David Howard, 605th TES HLMTDE project manager. “We are merely providing the data to the decision makers to let them make a decision whether or not to allow this [device] to be used as a designator.”
The main difference between a laser marker and a laser designator is quite significant. A laser marker gives a general area or location to the pilot to deploy munitions. A laser designator is able to guide the munitions to a specific target.
“What the [LA-10u/PEQ handheld laser] does [as a designator] is it sends out a pulse repetition frequency code, or a laser code,” said Staff Sgt. Christopher Young, 605th TES joint terminal attack controller. “The bomb can see that code, and it tracks to the spot where the laser is pointed. So [field operators] shoot it at a target, the bomb sees it [and] guides to it. It’s a really accurate way to employ munitions.”
The data being collected includes the time of day, the target number, who is shooting the laser, the type of aircraft dropping the munitions, the time the laser trigger was pulled, whether or not the test run was successful or not and feedback from the laser shooter.
“U.S. Special Operations Command came to the 605th TES and asked us to look into this [device] and see if [the] capability would work [as a designator],” Howard said.
This data will be sent to USSOCOM so the required modifications to the laser can be made.
“Theoretically the capability is there, and it’s now a matter of getting the requirements to meet that capability to [qualify to be used on the battle field as a designator].”
The handheld laser marker provides many advantages on the battle field and would provide even more advantages as a laser designator.
“[The laser is] able to take a capability that was used specifically as a marker to get pilots eyes on a specific area, and now [it will be able to be used] for precision engagement,” Howard said.
Young said there are addition advantages.
“[This laser] is a lot smaller, a lot lighter and is designed to [have easier] access. Our previous laser was probably about 10 to 12 pounds; it took five batteries and almost took up your entire ruck sack to carry. So what this [laser] will do now [will] allow us to point on [a target], shoot [a laser at] it [and] guide a bomb to it.”
The team believes their test will make a huge impact on how the Airmen, Sailors, Soldiers and Marines fight on the battle field.
“It allows us to have an impact, a true impact on what the guys are going to be doing, can do downrange now, and what they potentially will be doing in the future,” Howard said.