New Clothing Item IDs Friendlies
When Taliban forces attacked a police checkpoint in central Afghanistan under dark of night in late 2006, special-operations Master Sgt. Andrew Martin called in air support and then slapped a high-tech cloth-like device on his helmet for protection.
Fresh from labs at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the device transmitted light from a powerful light-emitting diode, or LED, that pulsed through a fiber optic bundle, giving off infrared signals visible to pilots wearing night-vision goggles.
"The pilots were able to very quickly pick it up," recalled Martin, who has since retired from the Air Force. "What didn't happen was additional questions from the pilots asking me my location."
The new technology - called Target Recognition Operator Notification system - was designed to easily identify friendly forces and avoid casualties from friendly fire.
Martin liked the equipment so much he used it on about 35 missions over six months. He said it is better than strobe lights, which can be mistaken for machine-gun fire, or reflective tape, which is difficult to see from the air.
"U.S. forces have been dogged by the difficulty of finding each other in the fog of battle," said Loren Thompson, a defense analyst with the Lexington Institute in Arlington, Va. "What this new innovation allows is easy identification of friendly forces without helping the enemy do the same thing."
Read more on the TRON system at Military.com.
I have plenty of that IR glint tape -- and it's stitched all over my jackets and gear -- but I gotta tell you, I'd rather have something a lot bigger like this.