After a string of issues and miscalculations, it’s been discovered that the US has been supplying its soldiers with faulty rifle scopes. The government sued and settled with a manufacturer for providing our forces with bad sights, but four months after the case ended, the bad sights still haven’t been replaced. From The Washington Post:
That problem, known as thermal drift because it is weather-related, can cause the holographic weapon sight, or HWS, to be off target by six to 12 inches when a shooter is 300 feet away from a target, a common distance in a combat zone, according to the government’s lawsuit. Missing a target by as much as a foot can be disastrous for a soldier since it can be the difference between landing a fatal shot and missing the target.
In the lawsuit, an unnamed employee at the manufacturer was quoted as saying of this particular defect: “This is likely one of the worst types of failure, since most users won’t notice the problem until their life is on the line.”
Yeah, that sounds like a pretty big problem.
The fault tends to occur when the scopes are subjected to extreme heat or cold, which don’t sound at all like the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. Good thing we didn’t give the guns with the bad sights to our most important soldiers or anything.
But more than four months later, the equipment has not been recalled or replaced, say current service members and military officials. Instead, it is still used by units under Special Operations Command (SOCOM), including Navy SEALs, Army Green Berets, Marine Corps Special Operation units and some parts of Delta Force and SEAL Team Six, according to Navy Cmdr. Matthew Allen, a spokesman for SOCOM. The Marine Corps is also continuing to use thousands of the sights, said a Marine Corps spokesman, Maj. Tony Semelroth.
They’ll probably be fine. Who needs an accurate gun when conducting a clandestine midnight raid? “Sorry I missed you there, Mr. Bin Laden. Do you mind if I try again?”
L-3 Communications, the company who makes the scope, settled the case for $25.6 million. But their answer to this problem? A wholehearted meh.
The website of L-3’s EOTech unit, which is responsible for the sight, acknowledges that the thermal-drift problem has not been resolved. “There is no repair currently available to eliminate thermal drift,” EOTech’s website reads. “If your HWS experiences a degree of thermal drift that is unacceptable to you . . . please contact EOTech . . . to obtain a refund of the purchase price.”
The company, for its part, lied to the government about the faulty scope originally.
In winter 2007, when the company tried to secure a contract with the Norwegian military, the Norwegians found that in temperatures below 20 degrees, the sight began to fail, court documents assert. The crosshairs would expand and distort, causing the sight to be inaccurate.
EOTech tried to fix the cold-weather issue but never told the Pentagon, which had by then purchased large quantities of the sight, according to the U.S. government’s lawsuit.
As pointed out by The Post, the scope is so prevalent in use the Navy SEALs’ Twitter avatar is a soldier with the EOTech.
The spokesman for SOCOM said the scopes are “only used in a role where the limitations of the equipment are not in conflict with the safety or effectiveness of our warfighters.”