New targeting technology for troops in Afghanistan

September 8, 2009 -- Troops deployed to Afghanistan will have their eye on the enemy thanks to a suite of new equipment that will increase their ability to detect and target their foes, the Minister for Defence Equipment and Support announced today.

The new Surveillance and Target Acquisition (STA) package, part of the Future Integrated Soldier Technology (FIST) programme, has been ordered from Thales UK under a £150m contract.

FIST will provide improved protection, day and night surveillance and target acquisition, and assistance with navigation, command and control and battle preparation.

The new thermal sights will allow soldiers to conduct surveillance and engage targets in all weather and light levels, including zero light where normal night sights would be rendered ineffective.

Thermal imaging has the added benefits of improving the ability to see through optical camouflage; it will also enhance the soldiers' ability to conduct low level change recognition of tell tale thermal signatures of concealed weapons and improvised explosive devices.

The full FIST package will consist of nearly eleven thousand suites of equipment, comprising the following elements:

• Thermal Sights
• Close Quarter Battle Sights
• Commanders' Target Locating Systems
• Lightweight Day Sights
• Underslung Grenade Launcher Sights
• Underslung Grenade Launcher Fire Control Systems
• Ruggedised Digital Cameras
• Lightweight Infantry Periscopes.

FIST is designed to enable soldiers to dominate the battlefield with enhanced optics and improved target location accuracy, and will result in a significant increase in soldier lethality.

Minister for Defence Equipment and Support, Quentin Davies, said:

"The Surveillance and Target Acquisition package forms the first part of the FIST programme. The new kit that we have ordered will significantly increase the combat effectiveness of the British infantryman.

"The MOD is committed to equipping our front line troops with the best equipment we can by using the latest technological advances. I am delighted to announce this new contract which supports the British Defence Industrial base at the Defence Systems and Equipment International exhibition."

Colonel Bill Pointing, team leader of Dismounted Soldier Solutions at Defence Equipment and Support, added:

"This is a key step in giving the dismounted soldier the equipment that he needs, both for current operations and to support training before deployment. The team from Defence Equipment and Support is proud of its achievement in delivering this package and looks forward to delivering the equipment that will further improve our dismounted close combat capability."

The STA package that makes up the first increment of the FIST programme will enhance the ability of the troops on the ground to move, find, fix and strike the enemy by providing an enhanced 24-hour STA capability.

Deliveries of the new kit will begin at the end of 2010 and the first equipment will be given to troops for training, prior to being deployed to Afghanistan, in early 2011.


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