Special forces and militaries around the world need the best sights to put on their rifles. The modern battlefield is also seeing advances in technology. Infantry and ground forces, including the kit individual soldiers have, has often lagged behind the fancy gadgets that air forces and other units may get. Meprolight, an Israeli company that is part of the SK Group, has unveiled its new Mepro 02, a "red dot sight, featuring multi-pattern reticle for optimal tactical advantage for armed forces and law enforcement," the company said on February 16.
In a special briefing with the designer of the sight, Meptrolight showed off its new light weight and versatile sight. "We worked hard on this design," they note, seeking to create an advanced sight that is a solution to a gap that exists for tactical forces. Users, such as special forces, need the best technology and they also need flexibility and sights that can operate for long hours, day and night and not give away their position. That also means jamming their Pitatinny rails on their rifles with night-vision, thermal imaging and magnification. Meprolight says its new sight is the "first-ever MIL-SPEC red dot sight with multi-pattern reticle [which] enables the user to switch between aiming patterns quickly and easily for all tactical scenarios and in all-weather/light conditions."
The five-segment reticle allows for using different patterns inside the sight. It also enables pre-set aiming patterns. The sight also has flexibility for different ammunition, such as .556 and .762 calibre and supersonic ammunition. Merolight says "welcome to the future" when it comes to this sight, which is ready to ship.
Israel has been pioneering electro-optics and surveillance, as well as add-ons to weapons and platforms, achieving status as one of the best defense providers of technology for modern armies. This matters because Israeli defense giants are now seeking inroads in the Gulf countries, and are showcasing systems such as Fire Weaver and Spike missiles to the U.S. army. Israel already provided two Iron Dome air defense batteries to the United States and has its Trophy defense systems on American tanks. New scanning and surveillance technology is also being rolled out and Israel is working closely with militaries and defense contracts from the United Kingdom to Netherlands and India, to provide solutions.
Electro-optics are a space that Israel increasingly excels in. For instance, Israel Aerospace Industries, rolled out MegaPop, a new payload developed by Tamam, it's electro-optical center. For marine and border patrol the system combined video and thermal and HD channels with night vision. It has a range of laser capabilities and zoom.
At Meprolight the designers of the new sight say that they haven't seen a downturn in countries plowing financing into defense budgets. This is despite the coronavirus pandemic. Countries still need the best optics for security. The aspects of the new sight that are interesting include a keypad and a sleep mode. Moreover, the sights are compact and light weight, so that soldiers can interchange more options on their rifles. It will have red and green dot options.
Developed over years, the sight has some 15,000 hours of operational time at a medium intensity use, the company says. This refers to the operator turning up the brightness of the internal dot and reticle. For Israeli designers one thing that is important is not just that they work with special forces that are active today and listen to feed-back, but they served in units, sometimes Israel's elite units, as well. Israel has a plethora of elite special forces units, such as its Navy SEALs Shayetet 13. The sight can still function in up to ten meters underwater. It has automatic and manual brightness control internally.
"The MEPRO O2 sight also includes non-reflective optics without light signature toward the target, for enhanced force protection; a combination of an integral motion sensor and configurable sleep time of 4-8 hours, saving power for extended operation; a new, improved, rugged MIL-SPEC mounting design and a protected three-button control keypad," the company says. "Our advanced technologies serve customers across the defense, law enforcement and HLS markets," says Ronen Hamudot, Corporate VP Marketing & Sales at the SK Group. "We are proud of our ability to apply our solutions to their evolving needs, consistent with our vision of always staying ahead, and providing customers with the exact solution they need to meet new challenges that arise."
One of the challenges for sights, as well as other military technology and optics, is to make the system user friendly without making it too complex. Militaries have lagged behind the civilian world on issues like communications and integrating tablet computers and systems that make it easier for troops to navigate and find each other. This is partly because militaries need rugged military specification hardware. You can't just take a smart phone and call it military-ready. Everyone who uses small drones, for instance, knows this. They overheat and run into problems with windy, dusty and cold conditions. That means making radios more rugged and also making them more secure so communications cannot be intercepted.
For gun sights it also means making them so no one can see them in the dark when they are illuminated internally. However, it also means providing the special forces with the flexibility they need, since they may use a variety of rifles or a grenade launcher in their operations. Blending the need for mass production, affordability, as well as the right options that soldiers and commanders want, and which can be both user-friendly and easy to operate and train with, is essential. These kinds of issues confront Israeli designers like their competitors in other countries. The new technologies coming out of Israel in the last years, such as Mepro 02, embody this attempt to combine the latest technology and what forces want in the field.
Seth J. Frantzman is a Ginsburg-Milstein Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum and senior Middle East correspondent at The Jerusalem Post.