It turns night into day
3rd gen tech gives soldiers better vision under all conditions
It can save your life to see in the dark.
On a pitch-black night in Afghanistan, a U.S. Marine Corps infantryman glimpsed distant motion. His platoon commander pulled out a pair of thermal infrared binoculars, and there was the threat: a figure lurking about 500 yards away, carrying a shoulder-launched rocket.
When they saw that individual come within 100 yards of the Marine camp, the commander gave the order. The infantryman shot. The threat was gone.
Raytheon’s Forward-Looking Infrared, or FLIR, technology is an advanced targeting system using heat, not light, to see through darkness, smoke, rain, snow and fog. This life-saving technology is now being improved: the 3rd GEN FLIR™ system will offer enhanced range performance, resolution and image quality.
“Third Gen is going to be double the range performance (over 2nd Gen) and provide the soldier with significant improvement in operational capability,” said Clay Towery, a director of Reconnaissance and Fire Control Systems at Raytheon.
The 3rd GEN FLIR system will give soldiers four fields of view: wide, medium, narrow and ultra-narrow. Second Gen version only offers wide and narrow field of views.
“The ultra-narrow field of view allows them to reach out and see at very long ranges – twice as far as current 2nd Gen systems,” Towery said.
More choices mean soldiers can optimize the field of view for the conditions they face. And the picture will be very clear. Resolution is sharper and more detailed with this latest variant.
“You're getting HD resolution, compared to VGA resolution from 2nd Gen," Towery said.
The 3rd GEN FLIR system will enable users to see across long- and mid-wave bands simultaneously, which means they see better and further in multiple conditions. That means "the ability to see first and shoot first," according to Towery.
That ability will be essential to surviving in combat, the driving force behind the U.S. Army’s interest.
This latest variant will also be more robust. The 3rd GEN FLIR system will withstand more severe operating environments, such as higher temperatures and increased shock.
“The U.S. Army wants to operate under conditions where they can take a ballistic shock and still keep fighting,” Towery said.
Raytheon’s 3rd GEN FLIR product in development, the Long Range Advanced Scout Surveillance System, or eLRAS3, weighs 50 percent less than today’s fielded models and is compatible with existing platforms.
It can also be used with multiple platforms and for different missions. Previously, developers had to choose between different camera types, each with limitations. The 3rd GEN FLIR system reduces the need to maintain multiple systems.
Raytheon is developing the 3rd GEN FLIR system for the Army as part of its vehicle modernization program. The company is upgrading the system’s sensor technology with high-resolution, multi-band optics, image-motion compensation and high-speed video electronics. The system could be available to soldiers as early as 2020.
Over the last decade, the company has delivered more than 20,000 2nd GEN FLIR sensors to the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and U.S. allies.
And one certain platoon commander depended on it during that dark night in Afghanistan. Months later, at an Association of the United States Army trade show, the officer sought out the Raytheon booth to praise the FLIR technology.
“You save lives on the battlefield,” he said.