April 28, 2010:
Continuing to lead the way, SOCOM (Special Operations Command) is installing long range light/heat sensing devices in their vehicles (mainly hummers and MRAPs). The LR-GMVAS (Long Range Ground Mobility Visual Augmentation System) can spot tanks or helicopters at 12 kilometers, trucks at 10 kilometers and people at five kilometers. The flat panel display in the vehicle has a mode that allows someone wearing night vision goggles to see what is on the display.
This idea came from SOCOM experience with long range thermal imaging device they bought three years ago. The hand held, 2.7kg (six pound) MilCAM Recon could spot vehicles, and identify them, at up to ten kilometers. This can be done despite smoke, dust or total darkness. The 35cm (14 inch) long device looks like a high end video camera. It uses rechargeable lithium batteries (four hours per charge) or disposable NiMH batteries (2.5 hours). MilCAM Recon cost over $10,000 each.
MilCAM Recon was very useful for Special Forces recon missions, where a team of operators would be watching over a wide area for enemy activity. Many of these missions were carried out using one or more vehicles, and from that came the idea of building something like MilCAM into SOCOM vehicles.