New Night Vision Goggles on the Way for Troops
Army soldiers will soon be equipped with next-generation night vision goggles that will provide them additional capability in close combat, according to service officials.
The enhanced night vision goggle-binocular, or ENVG-B, will be fielded before the end of fiscal year 2019, Brig. Gen. David Hodne, director of the soldier lethality cross-functional team, said Oct. 9 during a meeting with reporters at the Association of the United States Army’s annual convention in Washington, D.C.
Hodne declined to say which units would receive them initially, but noted that they were destined for “close combat” troops. The service plans to field about 10,000 systems over the next fiscal three years as part of the “first wave” of equipping soldiers with the new technology, he added.
Brig. Gen. Anthony Potts, head of Program Executive Office Soldier, noted that the Marine Corps would be receiving an additional 3,100 ENGV-Bs as part of a joint acquisition effort.
Previous versions of night vision goggles that the Army has fielded were monocular systems, whereas the ENVG-B is binocular.
“The B will give us a dual-lens capability with additional capabilities embedded in it,” Col. Travis Thompson, chief of staff for the soldier lethality cross-functional team, told National Defense.
“That allows us to have more depth perception in that close fight and allows you to be able to do things” that monocular systems can’t, he added. “Monoculars were more about cost than they were about performance.”
The ENVG-Bs, developed by L-3 Technologies, will be wirelessly linked to the family of weapon sights-individual, or FWS-I, which will provide rapid target acquisition capabilities.
“It’s slaved to the sight on the front of your weapon,” Potts explained. “In your goggles you will see this gray circle… [and] you will see where your muzzle is aiming.”
Thompson said the FWS-I can reduce the risks that soldiers face in certain circumstances.
“That clips onto the thermal in front of your existing day optic, so now you can put that on there both day or night … and that part wirelessly connects up into your goggles,” he told National Defense.
“That gives you the ability to actually put [the weapon sight] above your head if you’re in a trench and be able to see what was above there without having to expose your head, or see around a corner and possibly engage the enemy” without exposing the user’s body to enemy fire, he added.
Officials said that technology is the wave of the future.
“I can’t imagine right now any future sighting system that we have that will not have that type of capability,” Potts said.
The new night vision goggles are just one example of the wide range of technologies that Hodne’s cross-functional team is interested in. Soldier lethality is one of the top six modernization priorities that the new Army Futures Command is spearheading.
Hodne said some in industry don’t fully understand the scope of capabilities that fall under the soldier lethality portfolio.
“As I walked through the AUSA vendors, there’s not a common understanding of what lethality means,” he said. “It’s not just about weapon systems. It’s much more than that. It’s a number of factors” including training, human performance, mobility, protection and other technology that aids individual soldiers, he noted.