DRS Electro-Optics in LRAS3 for US Army & USMC Scouts
DRS Technologies, Inc. in Parsippany, NJ received a $26 million subcontract from Raytheon Company’s Network Centric Systems business in McKinney, TX, to provide major subsystems for the U.S. Army’s Long Range Advanced Scout Surveillance System (LRAS3). The contract was awarded to DRS byexas. Work will be performed by the company’s DRS Optronics unit in Palm Bay, FL, and product deliveries are expected to continue through December. DRS has booked more than $142 million in orders on the LRAS3 program, including the latest award.
So, what is LRAS3, and how has it been used in combat?
LRAS3 a long-range surveillance system for Humvee scout vehicles, usually M1025s and M114s. The idea is too keep scout vehicles out of direct fire range, and so it can spot things 15 kilometers (9 miles) away, obtain GPS coordinates and transmit these to aircraft or artillery units, or even designate the things it sees for attack via its targeting laser. The system uses advanced 2nd Generation Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) technology, a global positioning interferometer, an eye-safe laser range finder, a designator laser for guided weapons and a day video camera.
LRAS3 is meant to bridge the gap between currently fielded systems and the U.S. Army’s Future Combat System (FCS). StrategyPage notes:
“But the long range LRAS3 can be particularly useful in places like Iraq or Afghanistan, where you have long sight lines, and opportunities to put distant buildings, camps or roads under surveillance for extended periods of time. This technique allows you to better sort our what enemy forces are up to as they prepare for whatever they are going to do. In Afghanistan, Special Forces troops staking out isolated villages or camps for days, or weeks, obtained valuable information of where Taliban and al Qaeda forces were and what they were apparently planning. In Iraq, LRAS3 would allow border areas, and isolated places (like farms) that anti-government forces favor, to be watched without the enemy knowing they were being observed.
The 3rd Infantry division took 42 LRAS3 with them to Iraq last year and used them during the march on Baghdad. The system performed very well, being constantly in use. Users did note again that the system is really too bulky for much dismounted (on the tripod) use. The 3rd Division scouts only did this once, after Baghdad airport had been taken. The scouts manhandled a LRAS3 unit in the control tower (where it was able to keep an eye on the open areas around the airport.)”
The U.S. Marine Corps is also getting LRAS3 systems.
DRS has a significant position in FLIR and related systems, and is a key player in the US Army’s Horizontal Technology Integration initiative that aims for common electro-optical sensor sets across the M1 Abrams tank fleet and their accompanying M2/M3 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles.
- 82nd Airborne, US Army (Sept 6/06) – The Hunters. “The vehicles are also equipped with an imaging device called the Long Range Acquisition System. The LRAS, which is mounted on the roof of the vehicle and powered by a generator inside, allows users to identify targets from up to 10 kilometers away. “It’s kind of like having super-powered binoculars,” said Pfc. Bevin Schank, a turret gunner with A Troop.”
- 42ID, US Army (May 18/05) – Task Force Dragoon Soldiers Nab Insurgents. With some help from their LRAS, the rocket launchers are caught.
- 1st ID, US Army (Nov 8/04) – SGT Omar Torres Destroys an Enemy Sniper. 1200 meters into Fallujah, with help from a LRAS acting as a spotter. See picture, above.