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Thermal imaging is the use of special cameras that see in the far infrared electromagnetic spectrum (i.e. heat). Newer equipment can highlight things that are warmer than the ambient environment—most often people and vehicles.
Infrared radiation can pass through materials that visible light cannot, such as dust clouds and fabric. Smoke from white phosphorus sources can screen in the infrared region as well as the visible.
Various weapons may also rely on guidance via thermal sensors. However, these can often be spoofed with flares, especially if they mimic the heat signature of the vehicle they are meant to protect.
Battlefield: Bad Company 2
Thermal imaging is used by the UAV-1 drone as its standard view. The thermal imaging used is "black and white".
Thermal imaging is more heavily used in Battlefield 3, with various weapon accessories and vehicle upgrades allowing their users to see in infrared. Other upgrades are available to mask the heat signatures of certain vehicles.
Using an IRNV scope or Thermal Optics, players can more easily see silhouettes of enemy infantry and vehicles. Certain gadgets also give off heat when deployed, such as Anti-tank mines, Radio Beacons, and Micro Air Vehicles. However, the IRNV scope underwent a patch making it much less effective than previous or compared to Thermal Optics.
If a player using thermal imaging is struck by enemy fire, the delicate electronics in the scopes can temporarily malfunction. A player using thermal imaging will also suffer much less from the effects of the tactical flashlight while zoomed in.
There are two types of thermal imaging in Battlefield 3. The vehicle mounted thermal imaging features the "white hot" imaging while the infantry mounted IRNV scope features the "orange hot" type seen in they picture above.
- Strangely enough, in Battlefield 3, Thermal imaging marks the ammo crates and destroyed vehicles as orange, even if they do not have any heat signatures.
- In the mission "Thunder Run", the drivable tank uses thermal imaging found on the infantry scopes rather than the "white hot" type used by vehicles in multiplayer.
- The Drop Ship does not have a thermal signature at all.