Enhanced Target Acquisition Kit For Air Defense Soldiers
by U.S. Army Jason Cutshaw, Space and Missile Defense Command
December 12, 2019
From strategic missile defense of the homeland to tactical
defense of a platoon in the field, the U.S. Army Space and Missile
Defense Command is dedicated to defending the nation.
of SMDC have developed the Enhanced Target Acquisition Kit, or ETAK,
to provide day, night and degraded visual environment target
acquisition and tracking for man-portable systems.
augments the Soldiers’ existing equipment so they are able to see at
night and receive sensor tracks to cue the Soldier to the location
of the threat,” said Justin Novak, SMDC Future Warfare Center
June 8, 2019 - U.S. Army soldiers in Europe demonstrate the Enhanced Target Acquisition Kit, or ETAK, during the Sabre Guardian exercise. ETAK is designed to provide day, night and degraded visual environment target acquisition and tracking for man-portable systems for Warfighters. (U.S. Army photo by Justin Novak)
ETAK is designed to leverage existing combat equipment to provide
air space situational awareness, early warning, and rapid sensor
assisted acquisition and tracking capabilities to dismounted
Soldiers over tactical networks.
The kit was developed by
the command’s U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command Capability
Manager for Strategic Missile Defense’s Prototyping and
Experimentation Branch in two increments. The first is a rail sight
mount for the weapon, and the second is a sensor-based cueing
In tandem, the kit cues a Soldier
to the vicinity of the target using the sensor and then enables
positive identification and tracking of the target via the night
optic. ETAK capitalizes on Army investments leveraging the latest
generation night optics and augmented reality display technology.
ETAK is field mountable and dismountable and does not degrade the
capabilities of the existing system.
“The goal of ETAK is to
increase the Soldiers’ capability to acquire and engage targets with
man-portable weapons,” Novak said. “In addition to being able to
acquire targets, the system is also able to show where friendly
units are. This capability will help reduce the possibility of
having a friendly fire incident on the battlefield. And in the
future, other man-portable systems may be able to take advantage of
these enhanced capabilities.”
The Prototyping and
Experimentation Branch developed this capability from concept to
prototype demonstration. In coordination with multiple program
executive offices, ETAK leverages existing equipment, government
manufacturing capabilities and commercial hardware to rapidly
produce an inexpensive prototype.
The branch then leveraged
the Air and Missile Defense Prototyping Framework to integrate
Solders’ existing equipment and tactical data feeds to rapidly
produce and demonstrate a prototype in field conditions.
Future Warfare Center has been very supportive in giving me the
tools and leadership support at the highest level to be able to
develop ETAK from a concept and turn it into a reality,” Novak said.
This modular framework is multi-platform, which is substantiated
by repurposing tactical processing modules built for common computer
operating systems and reusing them within the other operating
system. This technology is currently being assessed by operational
units to address gaps in current systems.
available technologies, I came up with this concept by blending
available technologies for the Soldiers’ benefit,” Novak said. “This
concept utilizes augmented reality gaming technology to provide
Soldiers awareness of their surroundings without having to take
their eye off of potential adversaries or other objectives they may
be focused on.
“Repurposing this technology and allowing
industry to mature it gives the Soldier a decisive advantage by
benefiting from industry-matured technology without the taxpayer
funding the integration of mature components versus a brand new
technology forward,” he added.
ETAK is designed to improve
defense of Army forces worldwide with enhanced day, night, and
low-visibility situational awareness, acquisition, and engagement
capability; digital fire control for man-portable systems. It also
leverages Soldiers’ existing combat equipment and Army training
programs with minimal added weight by using a common power source.
SMDC is in the process of transitioning this technology to a program
office for procurement and fielding.
“My hope is that ETAK
will cause our adversaries to think twice before attacking as any
Soldier could have this capability at the ready,” Novak said.
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