Weapons: Fixing The Great Thermals Shortage

Archives

 

April 2, 2009: The U.S. Army has just ordered another 28,000 thermal sights for assault rifles and machine-guns. Average cost is about $8,200 each. Three years ago, the second generation of thermal weapons sights began reaching the troops, and the army and marines are still trying to supply everyone.  The new sights have revolutionized the way troops fight at night, since "thermals" sense heat, and are effective anywhere (the old night sights depended on amplifying available light).

The TWS I (officially the AN/PAS-13 weapons-mounted thermal sight) has been around for a nearly a decade, but the new version addresses a long list of user complaints and suggestions. Basically, TWS II is lighter, easier to use, and easier to keep supplied with batteries. The TWS II comes in three sizes; light (for M-16 type rifles, weighs 1.9 pounds and is good out to 550 meters), medium (for light machine-guns, weighs 2.8 pounds and is good out to 1,100 meters) and heavy (for .50 caliber weapons and 40mm grenade launchers, weighs 3.8 pounds and is good out to 2,200 meters).

Compared to TWS I, the new versions are about a third lighter, and uses standard AA batteries. This was something the troops were emphatic about. TWS I used special batteries, which, too often, the users could not get replacements for. But you can always get AAs. Even during combat, troops have found local Iraqi shops selling AAs, and were able to keep their electronic gear going as a result.

Thermal sites, unlike the older night-vision devices (which amplified any available light), illuminate people, and any warm machinery, by detecting heat. Thus thermal sights can be used in caves (and other places that lack any light to amplify) as well as in situations like sandstorms and fog.

Over 20,000 TWS II sights have been produced so far. And everyone wants one. The army alone expects to eventually spend over $2 billion on new thermal sights, and it will be another three years before production catches up with demand.

 

 

 

Article Archive

Weapons: Current 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999

 


X

Save StrategyPage

Over the years, we have tried to keep in-your-face ads off our site. If our readers have complained about an ad, we have looked into it and 90% of the time removed the ad. Unfortunately, revenues from standard ads are just not enough to keep us alive.

What can you do to help resuscitate StrategyPage? There are three possibilities:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..

We appreciate any help you can give us.

Subscribe   Contribute   Close