StormCaster-DX puts an aerial targeting laser in a soldier's rucksack
Teledyne FLIR Defense has developed a multi-role laser designator called the StormCaster-DX. The military targeting system can be attached to a quadcopter small and light enough to be carried in a soldier's rucksack.
When long-range weapons like artillery and rockets came on the scene, a new role opened up for warfighters. Being able to hurl a projectile over great distances has obvious advantages, but these become moot if the shooter can't see the target. To overcome this, scouts were dispatched to act as forward observers or spotters to direct the fall of shot.
Whether individual soldiers, balloon crews, or airplane pilots, these observers had one thing in common; they were a lot closer to the enemy, who had a very strong motive to shoot at them.
In the middle of the 20th century, this situation became both safer and more effective with the invention of laser systems. By shining a laser light on a target, the observer could in an instant determine the distance to the target and illuminate it in a way that special sensors could home in on for a precision strike.
In the past half century, these laser systems have become more sophisticated, but they tended to be relatively large, so they had to be mounted in aircraft large enough to carry them and the ground-based versions often still required a forward-deployed soldier to operate them.
Designed to provide NATO-standard laser target designation for laser-guided weapons, the 1.25-kg (2.75-lb) StormCaster-DX can be fitted to a number of different small drones, though it's made to fit especially with the compact FLIR R80D SkyRaider UAS platform. This allows the VTOL drone and the StormCaster-DX to be carried in a rucksack
Using a coded laser beam and two FLIR Boson 640 long-wave infrared thermal cameras, the StormCaster-DX can seek out and illuminate targets both at night and during the day to guide in air strikes, naval gunfire, and precision-guided mortar rounds. It can also operate in all weather conditions, has a gimbal for stability, and artificial intelligence/computer vision for targeting.
In addition to being able to locate and track targets with a high degree of precision, the StormCaster-DX can also detect potentially hostile lasers, decode them, and geolocate either the emitter or the beam's termination point.
"StormCaster-DX is an absolute game changer for small unit operations and represents a significant force multiplier," said Dr. JihFen Lei, executive vice president and general manager of Teledyne FLIR Defense. "For the first time, warfighters will be able to survey and manage the battlefield while performing laser designation with standoff from a rucksack-portable drone, allowing faster decision-making and targeting that help ensure mission success.
"We believe customers will embrace what StormCaster-DX can mean for troops in harm’s way: When seconds weigh heavily on an operation’s outcome, DX saves minutes."
The video below introduces the StormCaster-DX.