Better eyes on the front lines

The ELCAN Specter rifle sight switches rapidly between multiple views

A U.S. Marine Special Operations Team member in Afghanistan's Helmand province, using an ELCAN Specter® DR 1-4x dual role weapon sight. (Photo: U.S. Department of Defense)

Ty Blanchard was leading a U.S. Special Forces team, securing a small village in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, when gunfire erupted and one of his men went down. Out of the corner of his eye, he caught a glimpse of a figure escaping and circling back to flank and attack. He had to act fast.

Blanchard's gun was equipped with a dual-field-of-view ELCAN optical sight. He switched his view from 1x close-quarters mode to 4x long-range engagement, suppressed the enemy fire with his own and sent the attackers fleeing, allowing him to move his team out safely.

“Being able to engage at the weapon’s maximum effective range accurately – even just being able to get them to put their heads down – saved our guys’ lives,” said Blanchard. He served more than 26 years in the U.S. Army, is now in the Army National Guard and is a senior manager for Raytheon Land Warfare Systems.

That was in 2015. Made by Raytheon, the ELCAN Specter dual-role and fixed magnification sights have since been improved, with their weight reduced by 15 percent and battery life extended by 50 percent. Both have a new, low profile illumination switch.

The dual-role sight is also available with 1.5-6x magnification and more than 50 custom ballistic reticles to meet changing, unpredictable mission requirements, as when troops must make a choice between targets that are close in or far out.

“Very often, missions don’t turn out how you plan,” said Dan Pettry, a former U.S. Army Ranger and now a product manager for Raytheon ELCAN Rifle Sights. “That’s why having two weapons with two different sights isn’t the best scenario.”

The ELCAN Specter DR sight allows a shooter to switch instantly from one magnification to another without having to fine-tune or adjust focus. It offers extended eye relief and both-eyes-open capability so a user can react to changing conditions.

Today, hundreds of thousands of ELCAN Specter sights are fielded with allied forces around the world, including the U.S., Australia, Canada, Norway and Italy.

“It was our go-to sight for every guy on the team,” said Blanchard. The Green Beret has used Raytheon sights all over the world, from the jungles of Asia-Pacific to the deserts of the Middle East and the mountain ranges of Afghanistan.  

While some sighting systems were developed for commercial use and later adapted to military operations, the ELCAN Specter sighting systems were designed with combat operations in mind. 

“The reliability of it,” said Blanchard. “You just can’t beat it.”

Published On: 11/14/2019
Last Updated: 11/19/2019