Infantry: Seeing in the Dark Dark

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September 25, 2005: When going inside buildings or caves, night vision devices don't work very well. That's because these gadgets just intensify available light. If there is no available light, there's nothing to intensify. So small flashlights are attached to the end of rifles when going into these pitch-black places. These are not your ordinary flashlights, but "white light" models. The white light is more likely to temporarily blind anyone who gets a good look at it, and spoil their aim if they start shooting at the source of the light. But now the U.S. Army has a better device for this sort of thing, the MFAL (Multi-Functional Aiming Lights). This looks like a small flashlight, and attaches to the rifle. But this device can put out visible, or invisible (infrared, or IR) light. When using IR, you go into a cave providing light only you can see, with your night vision equipment. If you are real quiet (or sort of quiet), you have a big advantage over the bad guys trying to hide in the dark. This rig also allows you to see any booby traps the enemy may have laid for you. MFAL also emits a laser pointer (like the older "red dot"), but one that cannot be seen by the enemy (unless they also have night vision gear, which they usually don't.) The MFAL was developed with the help of feedback from combat troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

 


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