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U.S. Army orders thermal gunsights

  |   Nov. 6, 2006 at 3:30 PM
PARSIPPANY, Calif., Nov. 6 (UPI) -- The U.S. Army has issued a $76 million order for next-generation thermal weapons sights from DRS Technologies in New Jersey.

The Thermal Weapons Sight II, or TSW II, devices operate on DRS' uncooled infrared technology and can be fitted to the full range of the U.S. small-arms arsenal, including M-16 rifles, 50-caliber machine guns and Squad Automatic Weapons.

The order, part of an original contract issued in 2004, calls for more than 1,600 light-weight models, 3,900 mediums and 2,000 heavy sights. Production will be carried out at DRS plants in Texas, Florida and Southern California.

Night-vision sights have become standard equipment for G.I.s operating at night in Iraq and Afghanistan. The devices come in handy in the daytime as well, allowing soldiers to see through smoke and dust.

"The urgency and demand for TWS II by commanders continues to increase significantly," reported DRS' segment president James Baird.

Uncooled infrared technology came into its own a few years ago. It provides significant reductions in size, cost and power requirements, which made it possible to mass-produce and issue sights to pretty much any U.S. serviceman or woman in combat areas.

The key was the dramatic reduction in power requirements, which made it possible to use a couple of AA batteries to run the unit rather than a larger, custom-designed power packs in older models.

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