U.S. ARMY DEPLOYS ARMOURED KNIGHT INTO THEATRE
By Julian Nettlefold, Editor, BATTLESPACE
07 Apr 08. In March 2007 Don Skosky, VP Program Management, Defense Systems, DRS Sustainment Systems, gave BATTLESPACE Editor Julian Nettlefold an update on the company’s highly successful Knight Targeting System. DRS Technologies is the prime contractor for the M707 Armoured Knight program.
DRS Sustainment Systems, Inc.’s Knight is a precision targeting system consisting of a laser designator/rangefinder, thermal imager, digital command and control, blended inertial/GPS navigation and targeting, and a self-defense weapon. Its mission is to provide precision far target location and laser target designation for both artillery and air-delivered general purpose and precision-guided munitions.
BATTLESPACE interviewed Jim Marshall, Business Development Manager, DRS SSI about current developments of the Knight Program.
“The Knight system was developed in 1995 with the AN/TVQ-2 Ground/Vehicular Laser Locator/Designator (G/VLLD) and the AN/TAS-4B thermal sight as a result of a partnership between the then ESSI, now DRS Sustainment Systems, and United Defense (UDLP) now BAE Land Systems. The project was to develop a Mission Equipment package, designated M-7 BFIST on the Bradley chassis. This resulted in an order for 169 Knight systems plus spares,” Jim Marshall said. (See: BATTLESPACE UPDATE Vol.9 ISSUE 10, 10th March 2007, DRS UPDATES BATTLESPACE ON KNIGHT PROGRAM)
“How did the system then develop?”
“Recent conflicts reinforced the critical importance of ground-based precision targeting capability to the successful execution of both close air and fire support on the non-linear, asymmetric battlefield. The need for “eyes on the ground” to rapidly acquire, precisely locate, positively identify, and effectively engage threat targets – with minimal collateral damage – has never been greater,” Marshall said.
Latterly, DRS Sustainment Systems, Inc. developed further versions of the Knight fire support system under the US Army’s Warfighting Rapid Acquisition Program (WRAP) to meet this pressing requirement for a mobile targeting platform for its heavy and light division forward observers. Universally hailed as a model for the WRAP program, Knight progressed from concept to prototype in eight months. DRS has received orders for 227 M1025 A2 HMMWV-based Knight systems and 116 cupolas on the Stryker vehicle. Both the HMMWV and Stryker-mounted systems are currently in full-rate production. The Knight system was designed from the outset to be both platform and sensor independent.
The current US Army production version integrates the base Knight targeting and communications package including the Raytheon FS3 along with the Laser Designator Module. The payload provides the targeting accuracy sufficient to support precision-guided munitions, such as JDAM and Excalibur. The Knight system is mounted on the HUMVEE, Stryker and more recently, the M1117 Armoured security Vehicle (ASV).
Knight is a vehicle that supports artillery fire missions. Several types of munitions can be directed: laser-designated munitions , precision target location munitions, and conventional artillery. Knight gives an extremely accurate designator of the target, or provides a precise target grid location. Knight is the only system in serial production today with targeting accuracy equivalent to the delivery accuracies of today’s precision guided munitions such as JDAM and Excalibur.
Knight’s position/navigation subsystem combines inputs from a laser rangefinder, inertial navigation unit, GPS receiver, and a vehicle motion sensor to provide self-location, navigation, and far target location data. This data is then automatically formatted within the fire support tactical data system for immediate digital transmission as a call-for-fire or other message. Position and targeting data can also be incorporated into other battlefield command and control systems a