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Are Vehicle Optics Over Effective?

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I'll start by stating two things I am sure of before looking at my question.

Firstly modern optics particularly in low light and obscured vision situations are far superior to anything that has gone before. There is really no comparison between what a commander came see now in the likes of BS compared to BN! 

Secondly US and NATO systems are a generation ahead of Russian and will still be ahead even when things like the Armata and Bumerang are fielded. Independent sights and cueing make responsiveness and accuracy better than ever before....

But..... Even with that, should a 25 tonne Bradley be able to repeatedly site infaVntry in a building before they see it?

Six to eight eyes is better than one, and even if modern optics are highly effective, an MICV is still hundreds of times the size of a head at a window!

In addition I walk my dog every morning and can hear a car approaching at a half mile, so even given the noise of battle, infantry should usually be alerted to exactly where to look before a tank passes by.

Having played plenty of scenarios and been frustrated by both vehicles spotting Scouting teams in cover and also T-72's & T-90's covering small gaps with anti-armour arcs not spotting M-1's till they are half way across and often not getting the first shot, I am sort of now at the point where I think;

All infantry should be better at spotting Vehicles.

All Vehicles should be worse at spotting Infantry.

US vehicles shouldn't be quite as good at spotting as they are  & 

Russian &Ukrainian Vehicls should be better at Spotting.

I am not saying Modern vehicles don't have great optics or that US optics are better just that too me the gaps are bigger than I think they should be.


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I am sure some of the former US Army members will add their personal experience as Always, but I can tell you that the size of a man doesn't really matter when Thermal optics are factored in. The reason why some vehicles in game have an excellent spotting ability is the fact that they are equipped with Thermal imaging sights, often mounted on a 360° CITV and with several magnification levels.

As a comparison I can give you a nice test to try out: make a test in game and use a vehicle such as the MTLB (standard version), you'll see how difficult it is for it to spot anything, even very close by infantry. Because if you look at the real vehicle you'll see how limited is its vision equipment.


As regarding your past spotting examples, you should consider several other factors such as troops experience because it has a very strong influence on any situation... what was the experience level of those crew? Did they have any obstacle in front of them (even partial)? what weather conditions? What distance? 

Edited by Kieme(ITA)
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Units certainly will have some idea of where to look and in terms of the modern armies we are looking at have n array of electronic devices to help them Perhaps here we could take the nature of modern naval warfare as an analytical starting point. Without going int unnecessary detail here the aim in that particular game is to find the enemy and shoot him before he does the same to you. To do this you use an array of electronic sensors (passive and active) and old fashioned recon. Much the same is obviously going on in terms of the battlefield environment we are simulating in CMNS

One point we need to pick up on and consider carefully is, as Peter rightly states, the generational difference between the US systems and the reverse engineered Russian systems. A wrinkle to that is of course the Ukrainians who may well have purchased rel Western technology off the shelf. There is, I suspect, the issue of training to consider. You can have he best technology in the world but, if you are not trained to use it properly one cannot expect the best results

So. when we set up our test range we must  consider factors like the above. Even then our flat unobstructed tes range only gives us a baseline. We then have to take it on to the next stage of a real CMBS battlefield

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Naval Combat is a pretty poor analog.  I'm not trying to be antagonistic, but active and passive sensors in direct fire combat roles are equally limited by LOS.  Which is say they may work differently, but if you're planting a radar beside a thermal optic, they're both very much bound to the same limitations (they're both going to find the tank at 6 KM on the far hillside, but miss the tank company behind the lowground at 1 KM).  The inconsistency and short detection to shoot cycles are also at odds, as is the interplay between counter-measures.

Basically apples to lobsters.

From an M1A2 tank, the biggest issue was not the capability of the sensor, but the coverage of your sensors.  One tank attempting to cover a complex or wide sector of fire is going to be basically reviewing a 180 degree arc a few degrees at a time.  The more sensors you have oriented on a narrower sector, the less the difficulty.

Which is to say I guess is if a tank is pointing at where the infantryman is presenting himself, there's a pretty good odd of spotting said infantryman.  The difficulty comes from when the infantry guy is in terrain that presents a lot of possible places for an infantryman to realistically present himself (so urban settings) because the sensors can only cover so many of those places at a time.

If we're dealing with a monty python "how not to be seen" moment, and there's only a few places someone could be camped out without simply being in the middle of a field, then the problem is obviously much less pronounced.  

In regards to the gap between east vs best tanks, I contend it has less to do with the sensor itself, and more to do with the number of sensors.  Effectively most US AFVs have two more or less state of the art thermal optics capable of covering different sectors per vehicle, while most Russian ones simply have the gunner's thermal, and a day/passive IR commander's optic, and when they do have a CITV it is a much earlier generation*

*The 1990's vintage stuff was always a bit of a Rorschach test discerning rock vs head, like unless it moved it was hard to tell.  The newer western thermal optics have the sensitivity to tel the difference between the face-heat and the helmet-heat which makes small object identification easier.   Russian stuff is not incapable of making that sort of determination, but it less sensitive to the degree that it is a less pronounced visual difference, and it has difficulty maintaining clear returns on the move which makes it difficult to rapidly cover sectors of fire.  Which wherein I'd argue that the difference isn't return quality, but instead the ability to rapidly process and return a greater kind of situational awareness.  

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I can't speak for everything since I was just a mere infantryman, but this one time...

We were sitting on a highway waiting for EOD to show up to destroy an IED. Due to having the only thermal system on the convoy(I was operating a CROWS with an M2) I was tasked at looking for the farther threats which the other gunners wouldn't be able to see(triggermen, possible snipers, or fighters attempting to move up, etc). We had only been there about two minutes, when 700 or so meters away I saw a small white spot moving around. I zoomed in even further. I was able to identify it as a human being who appeared to be watching us from a ditch. I could only see the top of his head, but I picked him out easily in the background due to my thermal capabilities. Turns out it was just a dude taking a dump in a ditch, but the bottom line is I picked him out, and relatively quickly considering the distance. and I had a lot of degrees to scan as well.

My point is that if you can see me, I definitely have the ability to see you. The question at that point becomes twofold: "Do I know what I'm looking for?" In this case, people. Followed by "Am I paying enough attention to recognize it as a threat?" Imagine an infantryman just poking his head up a little to have a look at me and I happen to be looking in his direction. Sure he probably knows I'm there, but in order to do so he is compromising his ability to remain unseen. Thermals can be defeated, but chances are if you're managing to defeat them you sure aren't doing anything else. 

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Interestingly as an almost exclusive Redfor player I find buildings to be the safest place from US thermals and able to ambush tanks from. Ive had At7 team set up in bldgs 50 m frm bradleys facing them and fire and kill the brad and survive.

The big shock is goin from roadside ambushes in woods or hedgerows in ww2 then tryn to ambush a US column the same way. You.ll get massacred.

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