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Lights, Lasers & Sights

To clearly identify & designate enemy forces

As lights, lasers & sights continue to improve, this abridged article (for full article, please see MT #3/2018 available at EnforceTac 2018 & IWA 2018, or order here) looks at how innovation pushes the envelope on the art of the possible for tomorrow’s shooters.

As special operations forces (SOF) and dismounted close combat (DCC) troops become more and more embroiled in congested, contested and confined battlespaces around the world, the ability to clearly identify and designate enemy forces has become increasingly important to assault teams seeking to maintain tactical overmatch over opponents.

Whether they be weapon-mounted, helmet-borne or handheld, target acquisition and designation equipment must be reliable, energy efficient and accurate, providing personnel with a range of capabilities from IR and visible laser pointers and illuminators to red dot and optical weapon sights; even to white light conditions, which can be applicable in certain circumstances.

Missions conducted across the increasingly complex contemporary operating environment, however, continue to witness further growth in capability from near-peer adversaries and even less well-equipped violent extremist organisations (VEO).

For example, given wider proliferation of next-generation night vision and thermal imaging equipment, near-peer adversaries now have the means of identifying previously ‘covert’ laser signals of enemy forces, meaning easier identification of tactical positions across the battlefield. This, as one defence source explained to MT, now represents a new consideration and challenge for assault teams in terms of mission planning and preparation.

As an SOF source associated with USSOCOM explained to MT, operating in such environments remains a difficult mission set to accomplish. “Your head needs to be on a swivel, gathering information. When it’s time to shoot, the shooting process should be fast and effective,” he explained with reference to ongoing demand for modular solutions allowing an operator to pick and choose whatever the situation requires to be more effective on the battlefield.

Lights and Lasers

According to Matthew Meyers, CEO at US-based photonics specialist B.E. Meyers, the tactical lights and lasers market is witnessing a “significant resurgence,” globally. As he explained to MT, “SOF as well as most conventional combat elements that are equipped with laser and light devices are discovering that the majority of their systems have remained technologically unchanged since just after the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom [2003]. It doesn’t seem like that long ago, but the last time visual augmentation systems capabilities evolved specific to lasers, was 14 years ago. When we introduced our Modular Advanced Weapon Laser [MAWL-DA] to the end-user and showed them the next generation Vertical-Cavity, Surface-Emitting Laser (VCSEL) capabilities, this sparked the evolution that we are seeing in the market today.”

MAWL-DA is designed to address the so-called “ergonomic shortcomings” of laser devices on short-barrelled carbines, including USSOCOM’s MK18, with a mounting system offset from the rail adaptor system (RAS) of the rifle to “…minimise impact on hand position and optic field of view.” As company literature explains, “shooting with a laser should feel the same as shooting without one.” For full article, please see MT #3/2018 available at EnforceTac 2018 & IWA 2018, or order here.

Red Dot Sights

Also critical to any building clearance operation by assault forces is the red dot sight, with manufacturers including Aimpoint which continues to supply the international military and law enforcement communities with lightweight solutions designed to be mounted on short-barrelled weapons for rapid target acquisition in confined spaces.

Other options include Trijicon’s Ruggedized Miniature Reflex (RMR) Type 2 red dot sight, small enough to be mounted on the RAS of a handgun. Available in red dot configurations ranging from 1-13 MOA, the RMR features a Tritium-phosphor lamp which illuminates a reticle in low-light conditions with fibre optic technology automatically adjusting brightness and contrast levels applicable for both daylight and low-light conditions, a company source stated.

In-Line Options

However, red dot sights and laser devices without magnification can still offer significant constraints for assault teams operating in compounds, vessels and subterranean areas, where requirements may exist for both short and medium range engagement.

Responding to such demand is Meprolight, which launched its latest weapon sight at Milipol 2017. Designated the MEPRO MX3-T, the 3X magnification ‘in-line’ weapon sight has been designed to fulfil operational requirements for a single system capable of supporting red dot sights and laser devices. It thereby allows firers to switch quickly between unmagnified and magnified options to provide rapid target acquisition for short-, medium- and long-range engagements.

Tactical Torchlights

The Streamlight SIDEWINDER Tactical Flashlight is without any doubt the most interesting flashlights MONS Gear Box has tested own, having stood up to abuse for more than a year now at 4.65×2.34in weighing 5.02 ounces. A tactical torch, in use with special units around the world, one can really tell Streamlight put a lot of thought into this very rugged design and construction. The tiling head allows the flashlight to be clipped to a pocket or MOLLE strap on a backpack, tilt the head down, and free up your hands, and the multiple illumination sources, boasting two navigation LEDs (Green/Blue), a dedicated IR LED and the main white light LED. All four LEDs are variable output and can be quickly set to your desired brightness by depressing a rubber actuator switch. All four LEDs activate at a low 5% and progressively increase through four brightness settings to 100 percent. Additionally, double tapping the rubber actuator switch, immediately, puts the selected LED into 100% bright strobe mode. Selecting the type of light output is easily accomplished by feel even when wearing gloves. The belt clip can be secured to either side of the SIDEWINDER, tilting 180 degrees.

The Pelican 7600 one of the best all round flashlights available at 900 lumens coupled with a USB rechargeable lithium ion battery. In addition to the extreme high performance white LED light output, a red and green LED are included.

For full article, please see MT #3/2018 available at EnforceTac 2018 & IWA 2018, or order here.

There is little doubt that the future of rapid target acquisition devices remains cemented. However, as demonstrated by Aimpoint and Meprolight, demand for tactical overmatch across the battlefield will continue to direct the design, development and fielding of specialist accessories and ancillaries such as in-line sighting solutions.

Andrew White


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