U.S. Army stocks up on night-vision gear

June 23, 2006 at 4:26 PM
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NEW YORK, June 23 (UPI) -- The U.S. Army this week awarded contracts totaling $26 million to DRS Technologies for sights that enable infantry troops and vehicle crews to see as well as possible in the dark.

The contracts call for infrared systems for the Abrams tank and Bradley Fighting Vehicle, and thermal devices that can be mounted on the M-16 rifle.

The equipment satisfies both the U.S. military's post-Vietnam vow to "Own the Night" and its forward-looking plan to make maximum use of advanced digital technology. Such equipment has become standard issue to GIs in Iraq and Afghanistan where vision in cramped urban settings can be obscured by smoke and dust as well as by nightfall.

The contracts awarded this week include a $12 million deal for HTI SGF (Horizontal Technology Integration Second Generation Forward Looking Infrared) used on armored vehicles and a $14 million pact for rifle-mounted TWS II thermal gun sights.

"The use of these systems across several ground platforms has provided the Army with the opportunity to leverage resulting economies, while exploiting the capabilities of the latest technology in night vision systems," said Fred Marion, president of DRS' Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group.

New Jersey-based DRS credits its microbolometer-based infrared technology with making it possible to produce night-vision gear that not only has improved image quality but is compact and has longer battery life.

The equipment will be manufactured at DRS facilities in Florida, California and Texas. Deliveries are scheduled for next year and 2008.

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