Saturday, March 03, 2007

M117 Armored Security Vehicle

The U.S. Army is starting to take delivery of armored vehicles to be fitted with sensors and gear to help field artillery achieve the same pinpoint strikes as aircraft dropping satellite-guided bombs with the help of special-ops forward air controllers. Nineteen armored vehicles will be delivered this year, with 40 more next year, Textron Senior Vice President Tom Walmsley said.

In October, Textron received a $75.8 million order for 107 M117 armored vehicles from the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command’s (TACOM) Life Cycle Command. Those vehicles are going to DRS Technologies’ plant in West Plains, Mo., where DRS is installing its Knight precision targeting systems under an initial $12 million contract from TACOM. The Army designates the combined system — Knight system plus M117 vehicle — the M1200. The first completed Armored Knight M1200 vehicles are scheduled to be delivered in March 2008, according to DRS officials. The Textron-DRS team is “combining a great sensor package on a highly mobile and survivable platform, something that can accommodate the weight of a sensor, as well as allow plenty of weight margin for soldiers and their gear,” Walmsley said. The M1200 is designed primarily to fix targets for field artillery units. Among its principal missions is Combat Observation Laser Teams, which places laser beams on targets to help field artillery units direct their fire.

The Knight sensor suite includes a laser designator and laser rangefinder, along with a Global Positioning System receiver, thermal imaging and digital command-and-control systems, allowing the system to precisely locate targets from several kilometers away. “It is a vehicle that works with artillery,” said Jim Marshall, a DRS business development manager. “There are two types of munitions: laser-designated munitions or target location munitions. Knight gives you an extremely accurate designator of the target, or gives you a precise grid location on the ground such that the artillery has a good point to fire to. This is the only system with the targeting accuracy of a JDAM [Joint Direct Attack Munition] or Excalibur” guided artillery shell. Marshall said this is the first time an armored vehicle will carry a long-range laser rangefinder that can designate targets. “The predecessor of the Armored Knight was the Knight system M707, which is a comparable sensor suite placed on a Humvee chassis,” Marshall said. “Now, you have these capabilities on an armored vehicle that gets you the additional protection.” (
An army of principles can penetrate where an army of soldiers cannot. ~ Thomas Paine


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