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The use of thermal sights, heat responsive sighting or tracking equipment, and search and rescue equipment requires special training, especially in military situations, because the image presented by such a device is different from what is perceived with visible light. Thus, it is necessary to afford extensive nighttime practice to personnel who are expected to use such equipment, in order to develop their ability to detect targets and recognize objects of the type at which they may have to fire in actual combat or may otherwise be required to engage with the employment of thermal imaging equipment. Such training requires targets that emit realistic heat radiation patterns.
Most current methods for generating a thermal target use some type of electrical current from an AC source or from batteries, or may even include the use of metal drums with fires burning in them to generate a hot target. These are less than ideal due to a lack of electrical wiring or AC hook-up on firing ranges, the time-consuming setup, the potential environmental hazards, or the possibility of accidentally or intentionally rupturing a battery or electrical connection in live-fire exercises. Additionally, some of these methods require the thermal target to be disposed of through special methods or channels that can be slow and expensive. Other methods use electrically resistive material and wiring that is easily damaged by weapons fire.
The Navy has developed an expendable thermal target that includes a cloth housing with interior thermal emitting cells that produce heat by a controlled, rapid oxidation reaction of iron powder, carbon, a salt, and vermiculite or another similar ingredient. The flat target is stored in a vacuum bag and upon exposure to air, begins emitting heat lasting several hours. The ingredients can be tuned to emit heat at a human body temperature and the targets can be shaped and sized accordingly.
- Requires no electricity, battery, or external or internal power source
- Little or no potential to stop emitting a recognizable thermal signature after being hit by live ammunition
- Provides the highest obtainable thermal contrast for easy target acquisition for weapons fire exercises and training
- Inexpensive, environmentally safe, easy to manufacture, and easy to set up on a target range or other training scenario
- US patent 6,767,015 available for license