June 5, 2007:
A new Israeli portable thermal imager
has generated over $50 million in orders from the U.S. Marine Corps, Canadian and Israeli armed forces. The Elbit
Coral Thermal Imager weighs 5.5 pounds, has a built in compass and GPS, and low
power usage (and longer battery life). It looks like a pair of binoculars, but
with only one lens facing the target. You can add a laser range finder, and use
the Coral for getting coordinates for GPS guided bombs or artillery. Coral can
detect a man size target at 3,500 meters. Unlike earlier night vision gear, a
thermal imager can see through fog and sand storms. It has 2x magnification.
The batteries last over three hours, and each Coral units costs over
$30,000. For over two decades, thermal
imagers were too heavy, and expensive, for anything but armored vehicles. But
in the last few years, the technology has provided much smaller, if not nearly
as inexpensive, devices.