The US Military is Too Reliant on Bad Technology

In November of 2015, the U.S. Government sued L-3 Communications, the parent company of EOTech, for fraud after it was found that their popular holographic weapon sight (HWS) was adversely affected by both heat and humidity. Despite settling the suit for over $25 million, a pretty damming admission in my book, DOD personnel continue to use the sights and officials don’t seem to see a problem with that.

What happens?

According to the lawsuit and the EOTech website, there are two potential problems with the HWS. First, increased humidity may lead to seal failure which allows moisture to enter the housing. If this happens, the viewing areas can fog and the crosshairs can dim, both conditions can result in either sight failure or reduced visibility. Second, and most reported, is a condition referred to as “thermal drift” which results in affected units having a point of impact between 6-12 inches different than the point of aim on targets as close as 300ft. Originally this was thought to only occur in extreme cold conditions, but further testing indicates it is possible in both hot and cold climates and may be caused by fluctuation in temperature rather than long term exposure.

HWSAccording to a recent Washington Post article, numerous units in the Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and throughout the Marine Corps continue to use the questionable sights  and neither command appear to be in a hurry to change this practice. In their defense, spokespersons for both SOCOM and USMC claim their respective organizations are monitoring the situation but they also claim that there are no recorded incidents of thermal drift being experienced in the field.

How would anyone know if a service member had experienced this particular problem during a firefight? I am sure that service members have missed their intended target while using HWS systems, but how do they know whether it was the result of poor marksmanship or a sight malfunction? Furthermore, why wait until there is a proven case of failure in the field before taking action? Chances are good that when it is proven, it will be as a result of an American service member being killed. Since it has already been established there is a problem, why risk this? Isn’t this the whole basis for the government’s suit?

The government should make sure that the $25 million settlement is used to purchase replacement units, preferably from another source, and immediately order all suspect units be removed from service. Plus, it should be mandatory that all troops first learn to shoot properly with iron sights rather than relying on potentially faulty technology. This way, if a similar problem is encountered in the future, solving it will require nothing more than removing the affected accessory.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Tom Burrell

Tom enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserves in 1987. Following service in Desert Storm, he transitioned to active duty with the US Coast Guard. In 1997 he left the USCG to pursue a position in conservation & maritime law enforcement. Tom is currently a Captain and he oversees several programs, including his agency investigation unit. He is also a training instructor in several areas including firearms, defensive tactics and first aid/CPR. In 2006 Tom received his Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Harrisburg Area Community College and in 2010 a Bachelor’s Degree from Penn State University.
Tom Burrell
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5 thoughts on “The US Military is Too Reliant on Bad Technology

  1. Basic rifle marksmanship with iron sights is a mandatory skill learned by all recruits in the Marine Corps and Army. Can not speculate for the other branches, but then again they do not make up the majority of ground forces in those firefights. This optic is a useful tool for faster target acquisition, is it perfect? No, but you can not expect every piece of equipment to be nuke proof. Could it be better? Yes, of course so could all the other pieces of gear we use.

  2. The bureaucrats would rather waste lives rather than reverse a mistake made by one of the know-it-alls.

  3. I run an EOTech on my AR and am now looking for a replacement. Unlikely problem in my dry moderate climate of Idaho, but if it Can happen, well, you know Murphy. For our men in the Mid East? Work on a replacement right now!

  4. I challenge your assumption that this is “Bad technology”.

    The Eotech holosight is recognized as one of the best weapon sights available anywhere.

    The acquisition request certainly asked for “unaffected by temperature and humidity”. And it is clear that Eotech failed to deliver in this regard. However, the sight’s merits of a huge window and it’s uncanny mechanism for showing shot placement on the target far outweigh those failures…

    This is the condition that leads services to continue to use the equipment, even while Eotech pays a punitive settlement for breach of contact.

    Oh… And where would you like to go to get another holographic weapon sight? Eotech holds all the patents. (Or the rights to them from Bushnell.)

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