Marine Corps Asks Northrop Grumman to Build NGHTS Portable Electro-Optical Laser Target Designation System

QUANTICO, Virginia – US Marine Corps electro-optical targeting system experts needed a portable system to help Marines quickly acquire targets on the battlefield. They found their solution in the Northrop Grumman Mission Systems segment in Apopka, Florida.

Marine Corps Systems Command officials at Quantico Marine Base, Va., on Thursday announced an eight-year, $252 million contract with Northrop Grumman for the Next Generation Handheld Targeting System (NGHTS).

NGHTS is a lightweight portable system that allows Marines to quickly acquire targets; advising against targets; and generate target location data during combat operations. The NGHTS will combine target localization, laser point imaging and laser target designation.

The contract includes initial low-rate production, full-rate production, testing, spare parts, engineering services, logistics support, training and documentation.

Related: Army launches 10-year program to build electro-optical target designation laser rangefinder

Marines use four legacy systems today: the Portable Lightweight Designator Range Finder, Joint Terminal Attack Controller, Laser Target Designator, and Thermal Laser Dot Imager. The intention is for NGHTS to replace all four systems.

The NGHTS Portable Targeting System will combine all legacy capabilities into a single system compatible with current and future fire support systems, and will support the Marine Corps for the next 15-20 years. NGHTS will reduce the weight of the Marine Corps laser designation and laser dot imaging capability by 60%, experts say.

In December 2018, the Marine Corps granted four additional transaction authorizations (OTAs) to BAE Systems, Elbit Systems of America, Fraser Optics and Northrop Grumman for the first phase of the NGHTS program. OTAs needed to assess contractors’ ability to produce NGHTS and better understand the best possible system.

Related: US Army Selects DRS to Build LLDR 3 Electro-Optical Target Designator and Laser Range Finder

In early 2015, the Marine Corps awarded a $73.4 million contract to Elbit Systems of America in Merrimack, NH, to build up to 1,500 Common Laser Range Finder Integrated Capability Handheld Tactical Laser Rangefinders (CLRF- IC), which are small enough for individual Marines to carry.

CLRF-IC handheld laser range finder systems are intended to assist deployed Marines in detecting, identifying, and locating targets during the day, night, and in inclement weather.

On the NGHTS contract, Northrop Grumman will perform the work in Apopka, Florida and is expected to be completed by February 2030. For more information, contact Northrop Grumman Mission Systems online at