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Raytheon's updated JTACs situational awareness system eyes-on (video)

Steve Dent, @stevetdent
June 17, 2013
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Though you may think drones do all the fighting these days, actual soldiers on the ground are still used to call in airstrikes. Sometimes it's still necessary to visually confirm targets before the flyboys create a smoking crater. Though the army has toyed with smartphones and other means to connect soldiers, Raytheon has created a new JTACs (Joint Tactical Air Controller system) prototype for ground forces to let them separate friendlies from enemies and relay the information to strike forces. The system consists of a chest-worn computer, heads-up monocle viewer and wrist-worn display, which together let the solider select a target merely by looking at it and pressing a button. They can also tag friendly forces the same way or send update situational data to the rest of the team, whether they're on the ground or flying a fighter overhead. That assistance from the ground will make it easier for those at the yoke to differentiate between friendlies and targets.

We tried the prototype ourselves in a limited, 2D environment here at the 2013 Paris Air Show and, without any help getting set up, were able to tag targets as red diamonds and friendly forces as amber squares. Everything we did was also displayed on second screen, simulating the ability to send live updates to other soldiers or the base. Impressive as it was, the whole thing is merely a prototype for now, though, that could eventually change. The military AR system is part of a larger platform called AWARE, which Raytheon hopes to eventually deploy. For a detailed explanation about how it works, check out the video after the break.

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