Target Identification

The activities, locations, or signatures (visual or otherwise) of potential targets identify them as enemy. Dragon gunners must receive sufficient training to recognize the sizes, shapes, and thermal images of all types of targets. Turrets and main guns offer the most recognizable identifiers.

a. Friendly foreign units may operate with or near US forces. This complicates the task of identifying friendly vehicles. To reduce the chance of engaging an allied vehicle, the commander can establish target priorities. Antiarmor gunners then engage only specific types of enemy vehicles. Which type the commander tells them to engage depends on the enemy situation. Dragon gunners must be able to perform the following in sequence:

(1) Determine whether a vehicle is tracked or wheeled.

(2) Determine whether a vehicle is friendly or enemy.

(3) If an enemy vehicle, use Table 8-1, page 8-10 to determine its type.

(4) From the type of vehicle, identify the type of enemy unit. This aids the gunner, because each type unit has a unique organization and target value to the gunner, S2, and intelligence community.

(5) State the nomenclature of the vehicle.

b. Most weapons and vehicles produce telltale signatures. For example, most tracked vehicles use diesel fuel, which emits a large amount of black smoke. Tracked vehicles make more noise than wheeled vehicles. Antiarmor units can use these and other signatures to help them locate and identify enemy targets.

RECON

APC

IFV

TANK

• AML-90

• BTR-50

• BMP-1

• Centurion

• BRDM-1

• BTR-60

• BMP-2

• Challenger

• BRDM-2

• BTR-70

• BMP-3

• Chieftain

• EE-9

• BTR-80

• BRM

• M1A1 Abrams

• M-93 Scorpion

• LAV-25

• BMD

• M60

• M-113

• M2A2 Bradley

• M1985 (NK)

• MT-LB

• VTT-323 (M1973)

• PT-76

• PRC TYPE

• T-54

63/YW 531

• T-55

• V-150

• T-62

• T-64

• T-72

• T-80

Table 8-1. Vehicles categorized by function.

Table 8-1. Vehicles categorized by function.

c. Dragon gunners mainly detect target signatures by sight, sound, and smell. If they detect anything suspicious or unusual, they should thoroughly investigate it. Sun shining off a flat surface, such as off a windshield, sounds of diesel or turbine engines, or the clanking or squeaking of end connectors can indicate the locations of targets.

(1) Soldier Signatures.

• Fighting positions.

• Cut or missing vegetation (cleared for fields of fire or camouflage).

• Freshly dug earth (may indicate a fighting position).

• Noise from equipment or talking.

(2) Tracked Vehicle Signatures.

• Noise made by tracks and engine.

• Vehicle tracks on the ground.

• Distinctive silhouette or shape.

(3) Antitank Weapon Signatures.

• "Swish" of missile launch.

• Long, thin wires in brush, trees, or along the ground.

• Dismounted soldier looking through a periscope-type device. (Launcher could be up to 100 meters away from him.)

(4) Aircraft Signatures.

• Reflection of the sun from aircraft canopies and rotor blades.

• Dust and movement of foliage caused by a hovering helicopter.

• Sound of a turbine engine (high-pitched whirring sound). (5) Obstacles and Mines.

• Loose dirt or dirt that has been disturbed in a regular pattern.

• Areas where large trees have been removed.

8-7. TARGET RECOGNITION BY TYPE

Learning to recognize targets by type presents little challenge. However, identifying them as friendly or enemy requires careful study and attention to detail. Tanks are most difficult, because many friendly and enemy tanks share many design similarities. When camouflaged and moving at a distance of 1,500 to 2,000 meters, the gunner may not detect the differences. Soldiers must know which friendly and threat armored vehicles most likely will appear on the battlefield (STP 21-1-SMCT, available in Reimer's Digital Library). Soldiers can use training aids, such as GTA 17-2-13, to study the armored vehicles of other nations (Figure 8-10, page 8-12). To identify most armored vehicles or tanks, the gunner considers the type, location, and absence or presence of certain equipment. Specifically, he looks at the suspension system, turret, and main gun. However, he should remember that, just like friendly forces, the enemy also uses camouflage and deception.

a. Suspension System. Vegetation and terrain often conceal a vehicle's suspension system, which makes it the least identifiable part of the vehicle. If the gunner can see it, he can distinguish a suspension system by its—

• Road wheels and support rollers.

• Spacing between road wheels.

b. Turret. The gunner distinguishes turrets by these characteristics—

• Position on the hull: well forward, center, or to the rear.

• Presence, absence, or location of a searchlight.

• Shape of the turret: rounded, elongated, or boxy.

• Externally mounted storage racks and other equipment.

c. Main Gun. The gunner distinguishes tank main guns by looking for—

• A bore evacuator on the gun tube.

• A muzzle brake or blast deflector.

• The presence or absence of a thermal jacket.

d. Commander's Station (Some Tanks). Normally a simple hatch or cupola, the commander's station projects from the top left or right side of the commander's turret.

Army Tas Pic

Figure 8-10. Differences between armored vehicles. 8-8. THERMAL IDENTIFICATION

Using the AN/TAS-5 to identify targets by their thermal signature presents a challenge. Doing it successfully requires extensive training. Appendix I discusses in detail how to identify targets by their thermal signatures. Gunners use the same steps to identify vehicles thermally as they would to identify them through the daysight.

Figure 8-10. Differences between armored vehicles. 8-8. THERMAL IDENTIFICATION

Using the AN/TAS-5 to identify targets by their thermal signature presents a challenge. Doing it successfully requires extensive training. Appendix I discusses in detail how to identify targets by their thermal signatures. Gunners use the same steps to identify vehicles thermally as they would to identify them through the daysight.

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