3) My best guess is in the mid to late 1990's. This was the first time that US troops showed me a pair. I started to really see them in quantity in about 1999.
4) Good question. I am starting to see these on a regular basis on e-Bay, as well as the old Steiner M-22 in brand new condition. I have a feeling from talking to the troops that the 7X28 is strongly preferred because of size and weight. Night vision is not an issue, since night vision googles are so plentiful now across a broad range of units. Hence the 4mm exit pupil of the 7X28 is fine for daytime observation and the troops move to NVG's at dark.
5) Not that I know of. Another possibility is that these binoculars were/are sold to other NATO countries. I have no confirmation of this.
My last thought on why the original M-22 disappeared so quickly was that the "laser threat spectrum" changed and the older Steiner M-22 filters did a poor job of handling multiple-band threats. Since it had weight and durability issues as well, the Army decided to move on to the KamaTech. Are the KamaTech binos handling the the current multi-band threat being posed by the new Chinese NORINCO laser eye disturbers? That is a big question. The new 7X28 has filters as well. Are they designed to protect against a much more intense and diverse multi-band threat? In the end, I can only conclude that eventually the binocular will be entirely removed from the battlefield, as multi-band/power laser threats increase in complexity. Replacing a fuse or diode is much easier than replacing a soldier's eyes! This would pose a good discussion issue for the readers of the Binocular-list.
All Best Wishes,
From: Steve Harris <steveoman@___ink.net>
Subject: Re: Fujinon M-22
To: Jan-Bert Bongaarts <jan-bert.bongaarts@___.nl>
The PDF file on the M-24 "Apache" 7X28 product brochure is produced by Litton in Garland, TX which is located only several miles from my office. I am reasonably sure that Litton manufacturers the laser filters, reticule, and possibly an additional coating for the objective. The Pioneer binoculars are brought in from Japan and they install the filter and reticule in the bino. I can only assume that since the Army went to Litton for filter sourcing, the filter is reasonably robust against mutiband and multipower threats. Then again, as technology continues to improve, even these countermeasures will become more and more ineffective. The Chinese Norinco ZM-87 is now in the hands of at least 50 countries as well as rogue terrorists and poses a threat to every soldier/pilot that does not have protective filers in use 100 percent of the time. For more on this device, see the above Jane's summary dated in 2000. Advanced variations of this device now exist which are much more dangerous. For more on the Kill Flash filters see Tenebraex's site at http://www.camouflage.com/mil_intro.html.
The "Civilian" version of the M-24's has been available for many years. Slap "Apache 7X28 binoculars" into Google and you will find many hits. The examples that I have seen do not include the laser filter, but I have seen a variation at Brigade Quartermasters that contained a reticule. I have also seen these binoculars at local gun shows that were obviously stolen Army examples with filters in tack. I have also seen official M-24's with filters on ebay.com and ebay.de. Keep an eye open as soldiers from one country will trade things with soldiers of another country. In 1991, I understand that M-22's were traded for British and French sleeping cots!