Article also available in other languages
We at ALL4SHOOTERS.COM have been following and closely monitoring the development of this technology for a couple of years now, reporting to our readers about it multiple times − particularly as it was showcased in several international arms trade shows in 2012 and 2013.
Now, the tiny and yet innovative company founded by engineer Sergio Mian in the small northern-Italian mountain town of Bassano del Grappa appears to be close to the end of its ultimate task: the creation of a reliable, affordable, rugged, evolved laser-tagging-based system of scalar complexity and cost, to be either used for recreational purposes or for professional Force-on-Force training as a complement to simunition, blank firing guns, paintball markers, or Airsoft replicas.
At the 2014 edition of EnforceTac − the side event of IWA & OutdoorClassics that takes place for two days in Nuremberg, Germany, and is specifically dedicated to armaments, equipment and systems for military and Police forces − Mr. Mian was showcasing the latest version of his platform: dubbed the LTP (LACS Training Platform), it takes a steep turn from the earlier variants, which were called the "Lasertag-Airsoft Combo System" and were mainly conceived for recreational purposes. The brand new "Laser Advanced Combat System" may be the next frontier for small-scale or large-scale professional Force-on-Force training.
As some of our readers pointed out when we first wrote about the LACS system, this is not the world's first technology to implement laser tagging to Airsoft replicas, paintball markers, blank-firing or Simunition-firing guns for training or recreation; similar systems already exist on the commercial and the professional market − respectively we may name the "RedRay" and the well-known MILES. However, both have been out for a while, so they can't be said to be exactly cutting-edge in technology, and both have their drowbacks.
Similar systems used in the recreational field − there's actually quite plenty of them, and the "RedRay" is only one example, offer a limited number of wearable sensors and often require extensive modifications to Airsoft replicas, paintball markets or other training aids, which can't be easily undone when the laser designator isn't required anymore. Furthermore, the technology of their electronics and emitters often won't allow realistic and accurate engagements.
In the field of professional training, MILES is still king − at least as far as it concerns diffusion, not cutting-edge technology − but its limited availability and high acquisition prices make it unavailable to most entities outside military forces: it'd remain out of reach of most Police organizations, not to speak private security or military contractors.
The LACS LTP system has been specifically conceived to overcome said drawbacks, offering an affordable "fusion"-type Force-on-Force training platform that would remain reliable, realistic, compatible with other systems already in use.
Much like its previous versions, the new LACS LTP is based upon a logic unit and a portable laser designator/emitter to be mounted on the operator's guns (long guns and handguns, any of them), as well as upon an array of wearable sensors. What sets it apart from its forerunners is the technology: the entire system is micronized to the maximum, which reduces the need for cable connections, so that now what little cables are still required can be totally hidden inside and within the user's garment and gear preventing snagging, possible damage, or any huindrance during simulation. The LACS LTP is also extremely realistic: the gun-mounted laser emitter can be visually disguised as a tactical gunlight, as a laser pointer, as an uncercarried grenade launcher or any other commonly encountered tactical accessory; its installation requires no permanent or radical modification to the gun platform, and it's compatible with real firearms − even when converted to Simunition for Force-on-Force training − as well as with blank firers, with paintball markers, and with Airsoft replicas, as nowadays a huge number of Government units worldwide is reverting to extremely high-grade CO²-powered or electrically-powered Airsofts for Force-on-Force training, since it allows to maintain realism while at the same time reducing costs, wear and tear on firearms (the use of Simunition conversion kits can lead to long-term damage on guns), and risks of unwanted injury on the operators.
The sensors, whose compact size allows them to be mounted all over the user's equipment, are all connected each other; what makes them different from all similar or forerunner systems is that each sensor has its own CPU and has an independent interface to the low-profile logic unit worn by the user; the distribution of the sensors allow to determine which exact part of the body has been hit, when it happens, with a degree of accuracy that's similar to the one of a real firearm.
The LACS LTP system has a maximum range of 200 metres, although more powerful versions are already being studied to allow sniper-like training on long distances; furthermore, the system is compatible with hand-thrown, ground-based or gun-launched emitters that would replicate grenades, bombs, IEDs, and other explosive devices for the intents and purposes of the training simulation.
Each user's logic unit can be programmed through a TOC (Tactical Operations Center), which will also work as the command and control center for the simulation, following each operator and taking note of his/her data. The logic unit can be programmed to consider variables such as different firearm types (handguns, submachineguns, assault rifles, shotguns, sniper rifles, rocket launchers, and so on), as well as the degree of protection provided by each user's equipment, so to react positively and correctly when a "hit" signal is received from an opponent's emitter and register a "Wound" or "Kill" shot accordingly. When the user is "Killed", his full system − sensors, gun-mounted emitter and logic unit − will automatically shut down to prevent false positives.
This brief analysis should be enough to state how, and why, the LACS LTP stands lightyears above all other similar systems in terms of versatility and technology; but the brainchild of engineer Sergio Mian has yet another factor going for it: price. Unlike MILES-based systems, the LACS LTP system is not based upon controlled technologies, and can be manufactured and marketed everywhere in the world, at a true budget price.
This means that the commercial version of the LACS LTP system (dubbed the LACS V2 "Professional Training System") will also have a better chance to conquer the market. The commercial variant of the LTP is the most direct spawning of the original recrational version of the concept, and will be made available to Airsoft, Paintball and MilSim fields and individual re-enactors, while the LTP version will only be available to governmental customers. However, the V2 "Professional Training System" version is still realistic, performing and reliable enough to allow Force-on-Force training use by private security or military companies, and generally by all those non-military entities that for one reason or another may not access "military" training aids.
Having the LACS concept been developed with full assistance and support with the professional training specialists of Tadpoles Tactics, that's guaranteed to become a major global player in the field of professional training systems for the near future.