Army targets enemy with high-tech laser guidance

Body heat and GPS trackers combine

Body heat and GPS trackers combine

UK troops are taking charge of a state-of-the art high-tech targeting system that can pinpoint the enemy in all conditions up to 5km away. Public Sector

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The Surveillance System and Range Finder uses GPS, thermal imaging and a laser range finder to guide artillery and mortars in all weather, day or night.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has signed a £30m contract with Thales UK to take charge of 700 handheld or tripod-mounted systems for close combat forces from 2009.

Defence secretary Des Browne said its improvements over the existing Otis and Spyglass systems, which have been in service for about 20 years, would lead to a "more effective use of firepower and save lives".

A spokeswoman for the MoD said: "British troops welcome the new system, as it will be speedier, lighter to carry, more accurate and less conspicuous than the current system. The new system will make troops more effective at identifying and targeting enemy forces."

She said the system, which can also be used for reconnaissance, is a key aid to the "successful prosecution of operations of all types".

The equipment will be built at Thales UK's optronics facility in Glasgow.

The Thales factory is also supplying the Navy's new Astute class submarines with advanced optronics that replace the traditional periscope for the next generation of submarines.