Electronic Weapons: Lightweight Thermal Imagers Come Of Age


June 5, 2007: A new Israeli portable thermal imager has generated over $50 million in orders from the U.S. Marine Corps, Canadian and Israeli armed forces. The Elbit Coral Thermal Imager weighs 5.5 pounds, has a built in compass and GPS, and low power usage (and longer battery life). It looks like a pair of binoculars, but with only one lens facing the target. You can add a laser range finder, and use the Coral for getting coordinates for GPS guided bombs or artillery. Coral can detect a man size target at 3,500 meters. Unlike earlier night vision gear, a thermal imager can see through fog and sand storms. It has 2x magnification. The batteries last over three hours, and each Coral units costs over $30,000. For over two decades, thermal imagers were too heavy, and expensive, for anything but armored vehicles. But in the last few years, the technology has provided much smaller, if not nearly as inexpensive, devices.


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