Raytheon's Future Trooper Has Killer Monocle



PARIS -- Raytheon Co. is pitching a futuristic new uniform system featuring a helmet-mounted monocle that would let troops target air strikes simply by moving their head and pressing a button.

The system, unveiled this week at the Paris Air Show, is designed for the joint tactical air controller. Part of the Advanced Warfighter Awareness for Real-time Engagement systems, or AWARE, it features a transparent monocle display attached to a helmet, small computer affixed to the chest and smart phone-like device on the wrist.

"Everything here is based on current technology and an open architecture," Todd Lovell, an engineer and technical director in the intelligence, information and services unit at the Waltham, Mass.-based company. The helmet display is made by Lumus Ltd., based in Rehovot, Israel.

The Raytheon unit in 2012 generated about $6 billion of the company's overall revenue of $24 billion, according to John Harris, vice president and general manager of the segment.

The company gave demonstrations of the system to reporters and other show attendees. Officials said the Air Force may begin a competition later this year to further develop or buy the equipment. Other contractors such as General Dynamics Corp. may also be interested in bidding for the work.

Similar to screens already installed in aircraft and vehicles, the system would allow a service member on the ground to digitally mark a target such as a building or vehicle. The coordinates could then be instantly relayed to a fighter jet or armored vehicle to carry out a strike.

Indeed, next to the ground display was another of an F-16 cockpit, which as part of the simulation fired a laser-guided missile that struck and blew up the target. The system can also track other objects such as friendly forces.

The number of airmen or special operations forces in the U.S. military who would probably use the gear ranges from 1,000 to 5,000, according to Rimas Guzulaitis, director of business development for the unit.

The system is designed to make troops more aware of their surroundings by giving them three-dimensional visual and audio data, according to a brochure distributed by the company. Ultimately, it's about improving the safety of troops and their effectiveness in combat, Guzulaitis said.

Writing down coordinates from a map and relaying them verbally "can inject errors into the system," he said. If you can make the process easier, he said, "you cut through the fog of war."

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