Equipment for SFs

Special Report

Special Forces are among the most specialized combat forces in the military. They experience rigorous mental and physical training in order to carry out their missions in a quick and extremely effective manner. Special Operations Forces have very demanding physical requirements.

Special Forces soldiers carry the most advanced equipment in order to complete the most complicated missions. In order to maintain and edge and supremacy in their performance they are well equipped with the most advanced and hi-tech equipments which ensures maximum success and minimum loss, as every soldiers’ life is very precious.

Special operations personnel must know much about their surroundings to move without being spotted. They also need to identify foes from civilians. Many foes feel injuries to innocents are unimportant. But the effect of human collateral damage can be extremely problematic for special operations personnel who are trying to work closely with local people.

Good eyesight, night vision, and physical conditioning are required to reach mission objectives via parachute, land or water. Also required is excellent hand-eye coordination to detonate or deactivate explosives. In most instances, Special Operations Forces Team members are required to be qualified divers, parachutists and endurance runners.

Special operations forces wear body armor made of revolutionary materials, carry armor-puncturing knives, and don visions systems that can combine visual data with infrared and feeds from UAVs or other platforms.

Special operations teams swim or parachute into remote areas and spend few hours or a few days gathering information. Their load comprises compact equipment with long operating times and versatile capabilities.

The ever-changing nature of military missions also drives the need for lightweight technology for Special Forces. Given the extreme mobility requirements of special operations forces, size and weight are critical factors. Although there’s constant pressure to make units smaller and lighter, that is balanced by the desire to have equipment do more and communicate with more networks.

Smart weapons

Special Forces around the world are known for their unique way of conducting operations and it all depends upon their training methods and the use of military equipments. It ranges from rifles, gund, pistols, helmets, night vision devices, body armor and modern communication systems.

The Colt M4A1 Carbine has been the standard for special operations since its release in 1994. The A1 model has a slightly heavier barrel compared with the standard M4, and full auto capability. The Special Operations Peculiar Modification (SOPMOD) Kit provides additional items such as the M203 Grenade Launcher, a Picatinny Rail System for attachments, forward hand grip, Trijicon’s 4x ACOG sight, EOTech’s holographic sight, Aimpoint’s Close Combat Optic (CCO) sight, Insight Technology’s PEQ-2 or PEQ-15 Aiming Laser, and the Insight Flashlight.

While many Tier 1 spec ops units are shooting Glock and Sig Sauer pistols, Marine Special Operations has been using internal gunsmiths of the Marine Corps’ Precision Weapon Section to create hand-refurbished versions of the 1911 with ranges out to 50 meters at a muzzle velocity around 825 fps. The standard magazine is seven or eight rounds stacked, and the weapon and ammo weigh around 2.5 pounds.

Given the increasing weight from sensors, batteries, and other tools, operators try to minimize weight wherever possible, so most have switched from vests to plate carriers. The PICO serves as a basic plate carrier, but the operator can add side armor, and then pelvic, groin, biceps, and deltoid protection, and even drop leg ballistic panels. The newest version of PICO can be configured as part of a dynamic load carrying system which transfers some of the weight onto a belt that rests on the hips. PICO is made of a new material called PV, a combination of military spec nylon and Dupont Kevlar that decreases material weight by 20 to 50 percent but is about 10 times stronger than standard tactical nylon material.

The Impact Elite gloves are light enough not to interfere with weapons and trigger handling but durable enough to protect the hands while moving through rocky terrain. Raised ridges on the backs of the gloves protect the knuckles from abrasion. Retention loops at the wrist help members of Special Forces pull on gloves quickly.

The Emerson CQC-15 is an issue folding blade that is a combination of the popular recurved blade of the Commander with the tough, armor piercing point of the CQC-7. This design provides tremendous cutting, slicing, and piercing capability housed in an ergonomic handle design that can be opened one-handed. The ESEE-5 originated as a SERE School request for a knife that wouldn’t break. The result is 1/4-inch-thick steel with a 5-1/4-inch blade. The knife has a glass breaking pommel and a divot in the handle to act as a friction fire spindle (bow drill) socket. It has become the new standard for many units.

Even though you forces may have a gun, a knife could be extremely useful in plenty of situations. What happens if gun jams and somebody is coming with a club or some other blunt object? This one piece of gear could potentially save the precious lives of SF soldiers and therefore a knife is considered as an essential tool.

There are several different versions of Crye uniforms popular with operators, but almost all wear the Multicam pattern now. The Combat Shirt, Field Shirt, and Jacket provide various levels of moisture wicking and temperature control, while all allow the use of insertable elbow pads. Combat pants all have 10 pockets and allow for insertable knee pads.

Salomon boots, which have received a lot of attention from SFs, use a “chassis,” or platform, that provides torsional stiffness and lateral stability, and wider outsoles to increase ankle support and provide a more stable platform for walking. The XA Pro 3D Mid GTX boot is a lightweight fighter that is used more on shorter range missions and for summer wear. It uses the Quick Lace lacing mechanism, which runs a 500-pound test strength lace that is pulled tight and then secured with a cordlock on the lacing, eliminating the need to spend time tying bootlaces. The Quest 4D GTX is a heavier boot made for winter or mountainous terrain. It has traditional laces, but those laces have a locking mechanism at the ankle so that the laces around the foot can be kept tight while the laces around the leg are looser to allow for expanding calf size and leg movement during exercise.

Even these days Special Forces, along with modern military gears, are also utilizing the services of military dogs, which prove to be a force multiplier for them in dangerous operations. The US SEAL Trained Belgian Malinois dogs are trained to attack anyone carrying a weapon and have become a pivotal part of special operations. They skydive from 25,000 feet, Helo Cast, and commonly work with assault team members in tunnels or rooms on Kill or Capture missions. They have cameras on their heads and radio ear pieces that let them communicate with their handlers.

Further HALO (High Altitude Low Opening) helmet system is an excellent help for SF soldiers as its components include- light weight helmet, communication mics, visors, goggles, and oxygen mask. It allows excellent peripheral vision, provides head, eye and facial protection, resists to penetration of sharp object and impact.

The high altitude jumps allows entire teams, undetected by radar, to infiltrate a combat area. The Military Free Fall Advanced Ram Air Parachute System (MFF ARAPS) provides a multi-mission, high-altitude parachute delivery system that allows personnel to exit at altitudes between 3,500 feet and 35,000 feet. The parachute, which replaces the current MC-4 parachute, [1] supports a total jumper weight of 450 pounds. It also provides non-MFF personnel with a ram-air parachute that is static-line deployed. This parachute is specially designed for HALO jumps and can function reliably in severe environmental conditions.

The Re-Breather is a simple underwater breathing device allowing Special Forces to navigate rivers and streams unnoticed. Kayaks allow Special Forces to move silently through rivers and lakes.

Operatives use lightweight inflatable boats to execute amphibious (water to shore) landings, or to launch from a helicopter.

The M-4 Carbine rifle is lightweight and customizable, making it the Special Forces oldier’s ideal choice for a wide variety of small-unit missions.  Further the M9 Pistol is a semi-automatic, double action pistol that has a rail system to allow attachment of an Integrated Laser White Light Pointer (ILWLP). The ILWLP provides a tactical advantage in close combat operations and has resulted in increased lethality and survivability for Special Forces Soldiers.     

The Nett Warrior is an integrated dismounted leader situational awareness system for use during combat operations. The system provides unparalleled situational awareness to the dismounted leader, allowing for faster and more accurate decisions in the tactical fight. With advanced navigation, SA, and information sharing capabilities, leaders are able to avoid fratricide and are more effective and more lethal in the execution of their combat missions.

Night vision

Seeing at night is difficult. However, enemies and criminals don’t stop just because it is hard to see. In order to effectively keep them within sights, Special Forces need specialized night vision gear. This will conquer this obstacle and give an advantage over others. The advanced night vision devices are modern technology which allows Special Forces soldiers to see during night operations or in dark environments.

Special Forces operate equipments that are designed to help against all forms of extreme weather conditions. In extreme weather the eyes should be well protected so that they do not miss their target and deviate from their mission.

The blink powered night vision contact lenses allow a person to see clearly in low- light environments by enhancing ambient light up to 200 per cent. These lenses use plasma technologies to eliminate the cumbersome and expensive image-intensification tubes used in convention night-vision goggles. The advantages of using the contact lenses above night-vision goggles are-full peripheral vision, more comfortable interface, a more cost-effective system and less disorientation with use.

QUADEYE, an Elbit product which was believed to be used in Osama bin Laden operation, is designed around four, advanced, 16mm, image-intensifier tubes. Its modular construction permits the user to select between using only the two inner channels or four panoramic channels. Additionally, QUADEYE provides for projection of avionics head up display symbology or the aircraft’s targeting sensor’s video image into the goggle’s eyepiece through a high-resolution display. A debriefing camera has been integrated into the eyepiece to record what the user sees and may be used for mission debriefing or user training. The unit uses the standard position and adjustment shelf for pupillary distance, pupillary tilt adjustment, and eye relief. It attaches to any helmet using an ANVIS mount and is compatible with ANVIS HUD through an interconnect cable and interface box.

Special Operations pioneered the use of fused imaging systems that combine a thermal camera with night-vision light intensification in a package light enough to fit on a helmet. The monocular combines imagery from an infrared heat sensor with traditional image intensification to create an enhanced fused image with an infrared highlight. The combination enables the operator to pick up heat signatures in the distance that may be hidden behind bushes or vehicles.

With all this information, the wearer can identify targets well beyond the max effective range of the M4, allowing the shooter more time to acquire and engage a target. It also allows the shooter to seamlessly track a target from daylight into a dark cave or tunnel. Finally, the ITT Exelis i-Aware Fusion also allows the wearer to transmit and receive real-time color video and other battlefield information. This means that the operator could see the feed from an overhead UAV, or share imagery with other users or beam it back to a command post.

Corner Shot Weapon System replaces the camera on the front end of the pistol mount, at the end effector and can be switched out with whatever lens is already attached in less time than it takes to pull the new one from the carry pouch. It uses digital NVG technology rather than analog.

Another feature the Corner Shot offers that the end user is a “Wireless” or “Wired” transmitter that can be enabled or disabled by the user. The images captured by the CSM camera can be shared in real time with others in the stack or command center.

The Corner Shot is not a battle field rifle replacement; it’s best suited for “Active Shooter” situations in facilities such as schools, malls, hotels, etc. It could have saved many lives in the terrorist attack which happened in Mumbai.

The use of satellite phones and GPS technology has also helped the Special Forces of many countries in the world to stay connected with real time information and achieve success in dangerous combat operations.

Special Forces use the latest technology to communicate, whether it’s radio, text messages or through a satellite computer.

Tactical handsets, headsets and communication systems are crucial for all military, Special Forces, homeland security and police operations. Reliable and secure tactical communications are imperative to maintaining command and control for ground, air and marine operations. Readiness of and enhanced performance of these communication systems are essential and can be done with reliable auxiliary audio accessories and communication products.

The throat-mic system is an ideal option for several industrial, security, haz-mat-rescue, law enforcement and military use. Each is designed to make the communications easier to hear as well as remaining comfortable to wear for extended periods of time.

This revolutionary Push-To-Talk throat mic is designed specifically to be used for people wearing facemasks, breathing apparatus and protective suits that also require portable radios for communicating during their day-to-day responsibilities.


The throat mic itself is New Generation Technology, delivering clear speech even in high noise environments. The hypo-allergenic silicone rubber housing is held comfortably in place with a slip-resistant, expanding neck band, adjustable to anyone’s neck size.

These components are all of rugged construction, completely waterproof, durable and easily cleaned and disinfected between uses. With the advent or new electronic technology and frequency compensation, the Intrinsically Safe Tactical Throat-Mic brings unsurpassed audio clarity and ruggedness to the throat-mic communication industry. Designed for comfort, this unit is ideal when addressing the growing concerns of chemical and biological situations.

Built with non-biochemical absorbant surfaces, waterproof aspects and dust-tight construction, the throat-Mic has already proven itself to several military and law enforcement special operation teams looking for convenience and quality in throat-mic communications.

Nowadays many global companies produce tactical integrated communication headsets and other communications systems human interface equipment for the Special Forces.

Tactical Command Industries (TCI) has earned a worldwide reputation with conventional and special operations forces from all branches of the United States military and foreign militaries worldwide for custom headset products for specialty mission requirements.

TCI has proudly served military, defence, private security and law enforcement customers in over sixty countries.

Its tactical dual-communication Headsets-The Liberator III-is an industry-leading dual-communication headset that provides state-of-the-art situational awareness and sound-attenuation. Digital sound processing enables talk-through capability, while TCI’s threat compression technology and dynamic situational awareness enhancement provide the most realistic reproduction of ambient sound available.

The Liberator II tactical headset is a popular single-communication headset that offers many of the same technology advantages of the Liberator III, including talk-through capability, but is used when the operator primarily uses one radio at a time.

Military researchers are also exploring technologies such as energy harvesting where compact electronics convert the energy from vibration or changes in temperature so it can be used to power remote sensors and other products. The technology has seen some use, but its effect remains more in its high potential than in actual applications. Research in solar is also continuing as a way to extend operating lifetimes by augmenting batteries for the equipments of SFs.

India’s requirements

India, which has the requirement of specialized SF due to various internal and external threat scenarios, lacks the modern soldier equipments.

Indian Special Forces, unfortunately, have for long largely been treated as adjuncts to regular troops, restricted more to the tactical arena rather than being considered strategic assets to be used sparingly but with decisive effect.

After 2008 terrorist attack on 26/11 in Mumbai, it was felt that how inadequately Indian Special Forces are equipped. Death of any soldier in such operation is very big loss as it takes a lot of time to train them for specific missions.

Therefore Indian Armed Forces must focus on modernizing the equipments of the Special Forces.

In order to achieve that India should not blindly follow the US or UK model of SF. Their needs and interests are much too different. They are known to fight battles and wars not on their own territory. Special Forces are always employed with a definite plan, whether it is ground preparation or gaining intelligence or psychological operations to achieve strategic objectives. The need of the hour is to equip them with state-of-the-art weapon systems and equipment to improve their mobility and lethality.

After the 26/11 incident, India is finally strengthening its “unconventional’’ warfare arm. Modernization of the Special Forces of Army, Navy and IAF, trained to undertake covert missions deep behind enemy lines and hit high-value targets with precision, has been approved on the fast track basis.

The latest weaponry to be inducted into the Army’s seven Para-SF and three Para-SF (airborne) battalions, Navy’s marine commandos and IAF’s Garud force are 5.56mm TAR-21 Tavor assault rifles and 7.62mm Galil sniper rifles.

Already the deliveries of the around 5,500 Tavor rifles and 220 Galil rifles to the three special forces, which together number almost 10,000 top-notch combatants, has been already completed.

The procurement case for the three Special Forces was taken up in a consolidated manner by the integrated defence staff. The rifles have come with associated equipment like sights, under-barrel grenade launchers.

Other specialized equipment to be inducted ranges from M4A1 carbines, all-terrain multi-utility vehicles, GPS navigation systems, modular acquisition devices to laser range-finders, high-frequency communication sets, combat free-fall parachutes and even underwater remotely-operated vehicles, to be acquired from countries like the US, Israel, France and Sweden.

Incidentally, there is also now a joint tri-Service doctrine for the Special Forces, which focuses on the increasingly dominant role played by such highly-trained forces at all levels of war, be it tactical, operational or strategic.

The Special Forces have to undertake strategic and tactical surveillance of vital enemy targets, gather intelligence, hit-and-run operations, laser-designated bombing and other such operations in times of war. During low-intensity conflicts, they can undertake “seek and destroy missions’’ as well as “trans-border operations’’. Hostage-rescue, anti-terrorist operations and assistance to friendly foreign governments would be their other peace-time missions.

India has decided to equip SFs with more battalions and Special Aviation platforms with advanced aircrafts, helicopters and UVS.

If Indian SFs can be equipped with modern military gear like advance audio communication set, spy cameras, GPS, GPRS technological systems, night vision devices, protective goggles, thermal imaging equipment & infrared cameras, helmet with in built hands free communication, advanced radars & jammers, electromagnetic equipment, then their full potential can be utilized to make any mission successful.

Light body armor, compact optronics and communication system can also help them to increase their mobility. Depending on the mission, the SFs can carry other important items like ropes, climbing gear, grenades, rocket launchers, radio frequency locator, electro-optical equipment, laser range finders, advanced spectrum or spectroscopic equipment and various types of mission and terrain specific equipment.

India is planning to modernize all the Special Forces under its FINSAS project.

Special Forces use the full spectrum of military technology, featuring the latest advances in electronics. They are always searching for the newest systems in technologies as varied as man-portable gear, such as night vision goggles, or the latest sensors used on drones. Satellite and cellular communications also are a critical aspect of the command and control side of special operations.