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Identifying friendlies through thermals

This is a discussion on Identifying friendlies through thermals within the Army & Security Forces forum, part of the Global Defense & Military category; How is it done? Other than radio and GPS, how do infantry recognize friendlies in the field at medium ranges ...


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Old June 7th, 2013   #1
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Identifying friendlies through thermals

How is it done? Other than radio and GPS, how do infantry recognize friendlies in the field at medium ranges through thermals?
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Old June 7th, 2013   #2
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Well you should always know where higher, adjacent, and attached are located, and what they're doing. Generally, if you're in the defense, or on post, you will be told if there are friendlies expected down-range. If you're at an LP/OP, you'll report movement, and if you can't tell friendly or not, you'll tell higher that, and they will figure out if there are friendlies in the area.

Not through thermals, but through NVGs, friendlies might be wearing IR tags that you can see.

In what context are you asking this?
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Old June 7th, 2013   #3
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Sheer morbid curiosity after too many video games and night vision/thermal demo presentation videos on Youtube..
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Old June 7th, 2013   #4
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Dismounted FLIR systems are still somewhat of a rarity. The AN/PAS-13 for example is primarily used on the M-240B and or M249. The ability to PID a target is based entirely on the FLIR image quality. State of the art aircraft mounted FLIR can PID individuals from many kilometers away, cheaper man portable systems the range is much less. Anyway, infantry aren't generally using thermal systems anyway so as of yet, not such an issue.
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Old June 8th, 2013   #5
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Dismounted FLIR systems are still somewhat of a rarity. The AN/PAS-13 for example is primarily used on the M-240B and or M249. The ability to PID a target is based entirely on the FLIR image quality. State of the art aircraft mounted FLIR can PID individuals from many kilometers away, cheaper man portable systems the range is much less. Anyway, infantry aren't generally using thermal systems anyway so as of yet, not such an issue.
We use PAS-13D all the time, on our 240s. Far more frequently then PVS-17C. But you can't PID a lone infantry man at 500m, pretty much at all. If there was something really obvious, like he was carrying an RPG, or you could clearly see some other piece of gear that identified him as a hostile or friendly, that might do the trick. Otherwise there's basically no way that I know of.

Patrols entering friendly lines frequently have a way of distinguishing themselves, if they don't have comms, or can't use comms for some reason. Sometimes a hand and arm signal, or something else of the sort does the trick. That stuff is usually decided on in advance.
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Old June 8th, 2013   #6
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Friendly soldiers usually wear IR Strobes which basically emits a blinking light that can be seen by anyone wearing NVG's. These can't be seen through FLIR equipment though. I have heard of Thermal Strobes which emit heat but as far as I know these aren't used by any sort of military.

Apart from that the only way to identify friendly forces is through their equipment. Most modern day military forces fight terrorists or guerrilla fighters who usually don't have equipment like helmets, ballistic vests, or Bergens.

If you're using FLIR on a drone you should be able to distinguish friendly forces from enemies by the weapons they have or friendly forces will use a Laser Target Designator to point a device or pilot to the enemy.
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Old June 8th, 2013   #7
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We use PAS-13D all the time, on our 240s. Far more frequently then PVS-17C. But you can't PID a lone infantry man at 500m, pretty much at all. If there was something really obvious, like he was carrying an RPG, or you could clearly see some other piece of gear that identified him as a hostile or friendly, that might do the trick. Otherwise there's basically no way that I know of.

Patrols entering friendly lines frequently have a way of distinguishing themselves, if they don't have comms, or can't use comms for some reason. Sometimes a hand and arm signal, or something else of the sort does the trick. That stuff is usually decided on in advance.
I should have worded my response differently. What I was trying to articulate is that on a percentage basis not that many ground pounders have FLIR, they are using NVG's. As you and I know, NVG's are not thermal. We have the PAS 13's for our 240's as well but that's the only FLIR system we have on the books for weapons.
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Old June 8th, 2013   #8
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Body Warmer Chemical Pockets

You can use body warmer chemicals. It gives heat source about 20 - 24 hours. You can attach them on your helmet or you can put them ground for marking targets.
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Old June 8th, 2013   #9
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I should have worded my response differently. What I was trying to articulate is that on a percentage basis not that many ground pounders have FLIR, they are using NVG's. As you and I know, NVG's are not thermal. We have the PAS 13's for our 240's as well but that's the only FLIR system we have on the books for weapons.
Well I agree it's not a likely scenario. Given the prevalence of NVGs, and the use of IR tags, I don't see a situation where it will be a major problem. Worst comes to worst, I can swap out 13Ds for 17Cs in a few seconds. Thermals are more of a niche capability. They're necessary for crew serves. Riflemen don't need them at this point in the game. I'd like to see rails, and optics on our .50s and Mark 19s before riflemen start getting thermals.
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Old June 9th, 2013   #10
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BAE had a tech demo for a system designed to mask the IR signature of a vehicle set up on a CV-90

www.baesystems.com

BAE Improving Classic CV90 IFV

It can also use the tiles to display markings or messages to help prevent friendly fire.

Not in use yet, but it's clearly an area people are looking at...
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Old June 11th, 2013   #11
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Combat Identification Panel also exist since the Gulf War, even if it's only use in numbers since the Iraq War. Its only for vehicles, but it's a technology that could be adapt for infantry in the future.

The problem with that technology is that it only work against low tech enemies. Against someone equipped with thermal imaging you pretty much put a big neon panel over your head screaming '' I'm here shoot me''.
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Old June 11th, 2013   #12
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How are it done? Other than radio and GPS, how do infantry recognize friendlies in the field at medium ranges through thermals?
Just to be sure, you know thermal and night vision is not the same thing correct? Thermal systems are large. The ITAS was the TOW system sight, it could be used for recon, the MUCH better LRAS is the standard for scouting. Both these systems are far to heavy and akward to hump around. In a situiation where you would be using a thermal you would typically have the initiative and could take your time to detect what it was you were looking at. Which leads to.....

Western equipment, or at least the type I used typically had IR tags. Western kit is clearly obvious to a Western soldier. They are going to be wearing uniforms, LBEs, helmets and vests. They will have a certian posture that that is very noticable to another line soldier.

PEQ-15s used in conjuction with NVG's is a big one at night time for mobile ground pounders.

Last edited by Beastmode; June 11th, 2013 at 04:44 PM. Reason: sppplingz
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Old June 11th, 2013   #13
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Western equipment, or at least the type I used typically had IR tags. Western kit is clearly obvious to a Western soldier. They are going to be wearing uniforms, LBEs, helmets and vests. They will have a certian posture that that is very noticable to another line soldier.
You think that you'd be able to distinguish the difference between a molle flak with gear on it, and a Russian-style flak, with a 6-mag H-harness in front of it, through thermals, at several hundred meters? You can probably tell the difference between insurgents and friendlies, but if the enemy is another uniformed military, I'm not sure it would be so simple.
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Old June 11th, 2013   #14
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You think that you'd be able to distinguish the difference between a molle flak with gear on it, and a Russian-style flak, with a 6-mag H-harness in front of it, through thermals, at several hundred meters? You can probably tell the difference between insurgents and friendlies, but if the enemy is another uniformed military, I'm not sure it would be so simple.
I agree with you that given that kind of professional kit you could not tell the difference. Assuming your also talking about the professional maneuvering that would most likely come from the type of troops who would be wearing it.
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Old June 17th, 2013   #15
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It might be possible if some sort of electronic 'markers' are used to designate friendlies but these maybe too expensive to be used by an entire army.
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