Rifle Sights

Hi I just wanted to ask a few questions about rifle sights. Has anyone who’s used a KITE image intensifier sight found any problems with it e.g. in urban environments? I was interested to read that some sights now incorporate a thermal imaging camera. I was wondering if anybody had used one of these and what you thought of them as they look really bulky and heavy.


War Hero
Thales electronics have just developed it's replacement. They've called it Vampr 2 and I think thats the one thats has a thermal imaging camera and I've heard it has a smaller laser designator aswell.
I am sorry you think I am a journalist, I am really only interested in the sights themselves and how an image intensifier sight compares against an infra red sight. From what I have read the image intensifiers suffer from bloom when directed at say a bright light, while the infrared sights do not, as they only detect heat, but the infra red sights seem much bigger and bulkier than image intensifier sights.

Can somebody who has used either/both explain how they found the sights; usability, battery life, weight, resolution etc.
The KITE sight is in effect a standard CWS Image intensifier, that is it it amplifies avaialble light. It has a much larger lens on the front that give it a greater magnification. CLearly this larger lens also allows it to capture more light. Becasue f its bulk this is more usually used on heavy bits of kit: (LF28A LTD, HMG etc...) Image intensifiers do suffer from bloom when pointed at very bright objects but this is less of a problem with newer devices. The Helemt Mounted Version is small and less bulky than the CWS weapon sight, it operates in a spectrum that allows you to see an infra-red laser fitted to the rifle to assist in aiming and the sight does not get attached to a rifle.

Thermal sights attached to rifles are relatively new in the general military. SF have obviously had them for while, however the LION TI sight is now in my BG. These Thermal sights work in a spectrum that 'sees' electromagnetic wavelengths that equate to heat. It the bad old days this mean the system had to be cooled by compressed gas to be effective - so systems such as Spyglass and the sight attached to Milan (I forget its name). Newer systems such as SOPHIE and LION still use cooling engines but battery operated one.

I believe there are now sights that do not need to use cooling engines - i am sure there will be a techy out there to correct me if i am wrong.

The great advantage of TI over II is its ability to see 'through' limited cover, ie through bushes and camouflage. ITs disadvantage is its relative bulk.

I was chatting to a USMC excahge guy in the BG the other day, every man over ther has personal issue NVG and Laser Light Module (LLM) on his rifle. THey do everything at night in black light (IR). ALl live attacks, map reading, driving everything. It is an awesome way of turnign the technological advantage we have over our enemies into a battle winning tactical advantage. However how many of us still do 'dawn attaks' or use illum in night attacks? THe relative cost of this kit is small, but with the addition of some switched on TTP we could take a real shift in capability. If you are a journalist use your influence on those who hold the purse strings to get us all better sights and not just for operations where they already exist, but for training. No use just getting something in the RSOI package having not had the oportunityto train with it.
The Lightweight Thermal Imager (VIPIR-2) sight is actually slightly smaller and lighter than a Kite. It's only been bought in small numbers and I seem to recall reading in a MOD press release that it is only issued to Platoon commanders in certain operational units.

Of course, any journos only need to phone up Qioptiq. I'm sure that the marketing manager would be only too delighted to show you his toys...



Soldier Mag did a bit on the Viper TI sight about 6 months ago. Think it said the Mod had brought about 300 of them so don’t expect to see to many of them in your local armoury as there be pretty thin on the ground even if they all get sent to the places that need them most Herick/ Telic.

Thanks for your comments, I am not a journo but I do have some influence in design. If you could pick one or two areas to improve what would they be? Is there something that users always complain about that should be fixed? Your feedback is very much appreciated!


Just more of them littoraldifficulty nvgs should be standard equipment for infantry at least and enough sets for everyone else to train with them
on optag at least .
Make them lighter ,more robust,and more plentiful.


the sight attached to Milan (I forget its name).
MIRA. Javelin uses the Command Launch Unit (CLU), battery powered, which is a very good bit of kit, and also creates the opportunity for a terrible joke at kit checks:

"I haven't got a clu"...


War Hero
It's all very clever stuff. The latest generation of kit (not issue I'm afraid) has a function called 'auto gating'. This deals with the blooming problem by shutting down the sensitivity of the parts of the CCD that are getting too much light. This allows you to swing across points of light without losing the surrounding picture. It's not good enough to allow the thing to be used in daylight however 'cos it'll still get fcuked after a while.

The yanks are developing a hybrid image intensifier/thermal sight that will combine the two images into one. You'll still get your green screen, but superimposed on top will be a thermal image.

This way, you'll still see a bush and an object in it, but you'll clearly see the raghead so you can shoot him in the face.

Not sure how big or heavy it'll be when it hits the streets though.
My mistake ref LION and VIPR (Viper) sights. THe LION sights were backloaded six months ago because they were useless, we have 10 VIPR sights in the unit. An excellenpiece of technology certainly, and the lads appreciate it for low level stuff. In my BG we have 10 sights. There is no issue with those sights, but what would be useful is a piece of equipment that bridged the ap between CLU and VIPR. One is a weapon sight useful to a section, the other is a relatively large piece of kit that comes as part of the firing unit for JAVELIN. Something similar to SOPHIE a large binoculr thing that could be used for STA patrols d eaily man portable with a good range. VIPR does not have the range - its range is quite rightly matched to the weapon system on which it is mounted. However with the focus on 'not shooting people' and if we do have to shoot them, lets use arty, AH or CAS and not get close a small hand held system with good range is required. But as i said in the earlier post, whatever comes along we need it on a scale that is effective. Better an 80% solution that everyone gets, than a 100% solution only available in theatre. We will only ever be able to use the 100% solution to 50% of its potential through lack of familiarity.


I believe that they are looking at an option to accompany the CLU for the Controller Observer. At the moment the junior of the two on the CLU has to do the AFV recognition, BDA, and make the decision to fire while the C/O is sitting listening. It would make sense for him to have a handheld viewing device that doesn't have to be big and bulky enough to be able to fire the Javelin from.

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