One of the more useful tools,
for the artillery, to come along in the last five years is the LLDR
(Lightweight Laser Designator Rangefinder, or AN/PED-1). This 35 pound unit
looks like two cameras mounted on a small tripod. Actually, one of the
"cameras" is a "target locator" which uses a video camera
type device for daytime spotting, and a thermal imager for night or bad
weather. The bottom "camera" is a laser designator. There is also a
laser rangefinder (good for items from 100 meters to 20 kilometers away) and a
GPS. The basic use of the LLDR is simple (and it was designed that way). You
find what you want to designate as a target, fire the laser rangefinder to get
the range (and GPS coordinates), which can then be transmitted to aircraft,
artillery, or another unit (or headquarters) which needs that information.
While mainly used by artillery observers and forward air controllers, LLDR
provides precise location information for headquarters as well. Makes it easier
to coordinate movements, especially at night. Everyone has GPS in their
vehicles. The laser designator identifies targets for laser guided bombs.
The LLDR was
still in development on September 11, 2001, and production models reached the
troops by 2004. They cost about a
quarter of a million dollars each.