The Upgraded M36E3 Thermal Sight System is designed to improve the USMC’s AAV7 “Amtracs” amphibious vehicles; as Military Aerospace & Electronics notes, the Amtracs don’t have thermal sights. Instead, the current system employs image intensifier (aka. “starlight scope”) technology that amplifies existing light and has a range of less than 1 km (0.6 miles). Nor do current sights provide the ability to see through smoke, fog, sand or other obscurants to visible light.
The work-in-progress Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle will include far superior optics, but the Marines can’t wait that long. With Amtracs being pressed into service as armored personnel carriers far inland in theaters like Iraq, that’s a serious handicap. The replacement AAV7A1 day/night sight must provide daylight as well as nighttime sighting ability to detect targets to 4.7 km/ 3 miles, recognize targets to 2.5 km/ 1.5 miles, and identify targets at 700 m. See full solicitation specifications [HTML | MS Word].