By Paolo Valpolini
Meprolight, the Israeli company specialised in small arms day and night sight and belonging to the SK Group, unveiled at Milipol its new Tigon hybrid red dot and thermal sight. One of the key bullets in the development of the Tigon was price, the aim being of producing a system that would allow an army to provide all its soldiers with such capability, which is often limited to commanders or to soldiers with specific tasks. According to Meprolight representatives met at Milipol, the cost of the Tigon should be around 30% less than that of a standard thermal sight, or even below if a customer will purchase large quantities.
The sight features a large transparent display window on the top, four red dot lighting levels being available for different light conditions, each level being then fine-tuned automatically thanks to a sensor located at the front of the sight. Meprolight is however ready to tailor the modes to customers requirements. The red dot sight is zeroed mechanically, thanks to two screws located on the rear left side of the sight.
When the light is not enough, visibility is bad, or when the soldier needs i.e. to decamouflage a potential opponent hiding between the vegetation, the thermal sight is switched on, all commands being on the left side of the sight. Two push-buttons also allow to electronically zeroing the night sight, by putting the green reticle over the red dot, once the latter has been zeroed. The process can however be switched, zeroing the thermal sight and then bringing the red dot on the green reticle mechanically.
The thermal channel is fitted with a x2 digital zoom, while the red dot sight is compatible with Meprolight magnifiers that can be fitted behind the sight. Meprolight didn’t specified the matrix dimensions, a 17 µm pitch uncooled microbolometer operating in the 8-12 µm band being used. The thermal channel optic is located low at the front centre of the Tigon, protected by a cap which is removed before use. A lid is tilted backwards to shut the day sight window. EDR On-Line understood that in some specific conditions, such as i.e. in a thick canopy jungle, the lid can be kept open, the operator obtaining a sort of inherently fused image where the thermal image is superimposed on the day one.
On the left side, at the front, a screwed cap protects the video-out connector that allows linking the Tigon to external monitors or communication equipment in order to relay the image to higher command echelons.
The new Meprolight sight is powered by two standard AA batteries, which reduce logistic issues. These are located on the right side of the sight and when Li-Ion batteries are used the Tigon can operate for over 5 hours in thermal mode, day mode endurance being measured in thousands of hours, also thanks to the adoption of a power saving mechanism. Should the battery level fall under a defined limit, the thermal channel would be switched off automatically in order to preserve at least one mode of operation. According to official data the Tigon allows accurate shooting in full night conditions up to 150 meters, however this figure can be considered conservative, a 200 meters range having been mentioned.
The Tigon weighs around 500 grams with batteries and is fitted to the firearm through a standard quick-release Picatinny mechanism. The sight has already been evaluated by the Israeli Defence Forces, and some pre-production sights have also been provided to some customers. However the configuration is not yet fully frozen, some minor changing to the software being still underway. Meprolight counts however to launch full serial production in the very near future.
Photos Courtesy Meprolight and P. Valpolini