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WASHINGTON — Marines in Iraq are slated to get thermal sights for .50 caliber machine guns mounted on tanks, said John J. Young Jr., director of Defense Research and Engineering.

As of right now, .50 caliber machine guns on M1A1 tanks have no sights, Young said.

“That’s going to production this month, to buy thermal sights for the Marine Corps tanks, and the Army is also partner in this and has an option to buy systems for their tanks,” Young said.

Young did not say if .50 caliber machine guns on Humvees would also be getting the sights.

Defense Department officials could not say Thursday when the thermal sites would get to Marines in Iraq.

Young spoke to reporters Thursday about other initiatives his organization is undertaking to get U.S. troops downrange the battlefield technology they need.

One such tool known as the Constant Hawk is slated to go into theater in July, Young said. The system records and preserves images of what is happening in a particular area, he said.

“When you have a blast or event or something, you can go back and kind of do the TiVo thing, if you will — rewind and look and see what vehicle traffic and people were in that area and use that as clues as to people that you need to go have a talk with because they’re doing bad things,” he said.

Young did not discuss details of the technology, including on what the Constant Hawk was mounted.

Another tool being worked on would give U.S. troops the ability to store pictures and observations so that future patrols will know which areas look dangerous, Young said.

“Right now, it’s being used as a training tool for guys as they prepare to go in Iraq. It’s had some very powerful results; the soldiers really like it,” he said.

Researchers are also working a new type of weapons lubricant designed for dusty environments, Young said.

“It’s a dry coating, which would let you avoid grease but still provide the lubrication, so the guns don’t wear, but it would also avoid the issue with dust, and dust-fouling and the grease collecting the dust,” he said.


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