Sanders Receives $4 Million To Develop Lightweight Thermal Weapon Sight
NASHUA, NH, 10-MAY-00 -- Sanders, a Lockheed Martin Company, has received a $4 million award from the U.S. Army's Communications and Electronics Command (CECOM) for the second phase of a program to develop a Lightweight Thermal Weapon Sight (LTWS). The LTWS will provide portable, thermal targeting capability for small arms such as the Army's M-16 rifle. Operable day or night, in adverse weather and battlefield environments, the sight weighs less than three pounds and is battery powered. LTWS uses Sanders' MicroIR¿ imaging engine, which is based upon uncooled microbolometer, staring focal plane array technology.
Managed by the U.S. Army Project Manager for Reconnaissance, Surveillance, and Target Acquisition at Ft. Belvoir, Va., the LTWS program objective is to develop a lightweight, rugged thermal weapon sight for the U.S. Army and Marine Corps.
The LTWS will be produced under a CECOM-managed Thermal Omnibus procurement. Thermal Omnibus is the umbrella name for a series of multi-year procurements of thermal weapon sights -- with Light, Medium, and Heavy variants. It also includes thermal drivers' aids, and, potentially, thermal helmet sights. More than 100,000 thermal devices are scheduled to be purchased under Thermal Omnibus.
Sanders' Lexington-based Infrared Imaging Systems (IRIS) and teammate Pilkington Optronics successfully completed Phase I of the program in January 2000. The first phase culminated with an evaluation of prototype LTWS units at the U.S. Army's Dismounted Battlespace Battle Lab, Ft. Benning, Ga. During exercises, the thermal sights were subjected to live fire testing, individual movement techniques, and human factors evaluations with combat engineers and soldiers from the 75th Ranger Regiment. Participant surveys demonstrated the usefulness of Sanders' LTWS hardware in a variety of combat scenarios.
IRIS Program Manager Mike Pfenning called the exercises a thorough and professional evaluation of the LTWS. Live fire operations by the Rangers demonstrated the robustness of the prototypes and the system's ability to meet the Army's Phase I objectives, Pfenning said. He also lauded the performance of the soldiers, who essentially became part of the development team for the tests. He said the evaluation was a fine example of a government-contractor partnership¿ invaluable to developing and equipping our soldiers with a world-class Thermal Weapon Sight.
Phase II of this program is the completion of development and qualification testing. Sanders expects to complete qualification testing of the LTWS in early 2001, and begin Low Rate Initial Production later next year.
Sanders is an operating company of the Lockheed Martin Corporation, and a major producer of aircraft self-protection systems and tactical surveillance and intelligence systems for all branches of the armed forces. Other major business areas include microwave, mission and space electronics; infrared imaging; and automated mission planning systems.