“US-based aerospace company Northrop Grumman Corporation has been selected to provide the US Marine Corps with the next-generation handheld targeting system (NGHTS).”
As disclosed, NGHTS is capable of performing rapid target acquisition, laser terminal guidance operation and laser spot imaging functions. Its high-definition infrared sensors provide accuracy and grid capability over extended ranges.
So, what does this have to do with the Coast Guard?
If the Coast Guard is to respond to a terrorist attack using a medium to large ship, we have to respond in one of two ways. We either have to stop the ship with Coast Guard systems, or we have to call in help from other armed forces. Either way, something like this could help.
Plus, the device seems to have additional capabilities that might be useful.
In what is likely to be a rapidly developing threat situation, I have little faith, that we can get help in time, but if we do, we are going to need to quickly and effectively identify the target. This can be a lot more difficult than you might think. Army and Air Force pilots are not trained in ship recognition. They are unlikely to be able to recognize a particular ship based on a description. Using a laser designator insures there would be no misunderstanding about which ship is their target.
If Coast Guard are going to forcibly stop a terrorist-controlled vessel, we need accurate weapons that will not result in collateral damage. Laser guided weapons can fill this role.
These systems seem to have capabilities beyond laser designation. Looking at the illustration above, it appears it also can serve as a compass, perhaps capable of taking bearings day or night, and of providing low probability of intercept, line of sight communications.
This could even be used on smaller units like the response boats. Large cutters are getting the Mk20 Electro-Optic Sensor System (It is still not clear to me, if that includes a laser designator but it does seem likely). On a rolling ship we would probably rather have a mounted rather than handheld system, but some kind of mount would probably not be too difficult. Since it is supposed to be network capable, presumably its imaging could be remoted to command positions.