During Airborne operational testing at Fort Bragg, N.C., "Black Falcon" Soldiers of Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 2nd Battalion, 319th Field Artillery Regiment, get ready to push a Joint Effects Targeting System (JETS) door bundle out of an airplane. After landing, they will test to make sure JETS still functions after the jump. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army file photo)

Forward observers, who are experts in directing artillery and mortar fire onto enemy targets, hit the mark in testing a new piece of targeting equipment here recently.

“Black Falcon” Soldiers of Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 2nd Battalion, 319th Field Artillery Regiment, put their hands on the Joint Effects Targeting System (JETS) — a modular, portable, hand-held, day/night, all-weather, target observation, location, and designation system.

Components of the JETS include a Handheld Target Location Module (HTLM); a Laser Marker Module (LMM); and a Precision Azimuth Vertical Angle Module, all atop a tripod.

Sgt. 1st Class Ryan Orouke, a test non-commissioned officer with the U.S. Army Operational Test Command’s Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate (ABNSOTD), said JETS testing collects data to determine its suitability, reliability and survivability when conducting static line airborne operations, in a door bundle configuration for airdrops.

Headquarters and Headquarters Battery troopers spent four days in New Equipment Training (NET) from the Program Manager Soldier Precision Targeting Devices office out of Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

Sgt. 1st Class Juan Cruz, ABNSOTD assistant JETS test NCO, said that NET places the Soldiers in practical exercises which validate their ability to use the equipment in their missions.

After NET validation, Orouke said the “Black Falcons” put JETS through its paces by performing seven combat equipment jumps and several door bundle drops, making sure that JETS still functions when it hits the ground after the jump.

After each airborne operation, the “Black Falcon” forward observers assembled the equipment, then began identifying and designating enemy personnel and vehicle targets in day and night conditions. Targets were arrayed over rolling terrain from 800 meters to over 2,500 meters away.

The test data was then gathered to prepare a test report so senior Army leaders can make procurement decisions on JETS.

“Operational testing provides Soldiers the opportunity to use, work with, and offer up their own suggestions on pieces of equipment that can impact development of systems that future Soldiers will use in combat,” said Col. Brad Mock, the director of all the Army’s airborne testing.

Upon completion of testing, JETS could potentially be issued to Army Light and Airborne Artillery forces worldwide, signaling the first steps in upgrading the target acquisition of artillerymen.

JETS testing will continue into 2018 at several military installations.