U.S. Army Special Forces have received a new laser designator. The PEQ-1C SOFLAM is a 5.2 kg (11.3 pound) hand held device that looks like box like binoculars with two round lenses off to one side. It’s a 28.5 x 33.6 x 13.1 cm (11.2 x 13.2 x 5.2 inches) device that can determine range up to 20 kilometers away and designate targets over ten kilometers distant via a coded laser beam. It can be mounted on a tripod and operates off internal battery or vehicle power. Unlike earlier devices the PEQ-1C has fewer parts, is more reliable and draws less power. Devices like the PEQ-1C are used by Special Forces teams or forward air controllers to mark targets for laser guided bombs or missiles. This device is also exported and so far Romania and Lithuania have ordered it.
Many armies prefer even smaller, if less capable, devices. For example, the French Army uses the JIM LR 2 which looks more like traditional binoculars. There are four, instead of two, round glass windows in the front, and the usual two eyepieces in the back. The controls are electronic, not mechanical. The zoom equipped stabilized binoculars also include infrared (night vision) electronics, as well as a laser rangefinder (max range of 5,000 meters) GPS, digital compass, a laser designator (max range of 10,000 meters), and communications systems to transmit coordinates of targets. The binoculars can also record video and still images. Weighing about 3 kg (6.7 pounds), one battery charge lasts four hours. Individuals can be detected at 5,000 meters and identified at about 900. Vehicles can be spotted at 8,600 meters and identified at 1,700.
Over the last decade, electronic binoculars like the JIM LR 2 have become more common. With these devices, and not a lot of training, troops can call in artillery or mortar fire, as well as GPS or laser guided bombs. More frequently, troops use them to keep track of the enemy and each other.