The future of night vision continues to get brighter for soldiers as features like augmented reality, enhanced target acquisition capabilities and GPS support find their way onto the Army’s next generation of night vision goggles.
According to Army Futures Command spokesperson, Bridgett Sider, soldiers at Fort Polk, Louisiana conducted the first of three rounds of Reliability Growth Testing for the Enhanced Night Vision Goggle-Binocular June 30. The next round is tentatively slated to take place in about eight months, though no hard date has been set, Sider said in an e-mail.
“In the meantime, we have soldier touch points constantly, in one form or another. They vary. We’ve conducted at least 12 to date, and that’s a conservative number,” Sider said. “We employ the concept of Soldier Centered Design, which means we rely on soldiers every step of the way, from concept through development, to make sure everything about the final system is just what the warfighter wants and needs. All too often, in the past, the Army developed great capabilities and fielded them to Soldiers without getting their feedback, and the result was a system or a weapon that was maybe unwieldy or interfered with other parts of their kit or whatever”.
During the first round of RGT soldiers from C Troop, 3rd Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment, 10th Mountain Division tested the ENVG-B at Fort Polk’s Joint Readiness Training Center throughout June. According to an Army Futures Command press release the testing began with a week of classroom training and culminated in a 72-hour field training exercise. Thirty soldiers used the ENVG-Bs while others used the Army’s legacy PVS-14 night vision devices.
Sider said the ENVG-B has a host of features including:
- Connects to Nett Warrior to enhance situational awareness.
- Combines thermal and I² technology to optically fuse two images.
- Gives the soldier a wider field of view (40º in I², 34º in thermal), the ability to see through glass and the ability to see in total darkness (thermal).
- The thermal imager increases a soldier’s ability to detect by 300%.
- Supports above ground GPS enabled navigation.
- IR illuminator emits infrared light that can only be seen with I² night vision devices.
- Augmentation reality and rapid target acquisition capabilities enable rapid offensive targeting by reducing target acquisition and engagement times without the use of active lasers.
- Rotating binocular design allows for low-profile against helmet when in stowed position and ability to use as a single monocular
- “Auto OFF” when stowed; resumes power when deployed
“In terms of target detection and clarity, the difference between the (ENVG-B) and the PVS-14 is night and day,” said C Troop Commander, Capt. William Hess in a quote provided by Sider via e-mail. “The guys wearing the ENVG-Bs were taking targets out to 300 meters and even beyond, whereas our guys with 14s are having trouble seeing beyond 150. I can’t say enough about the ENVG-Bs. There’s really no comparison.”
The testing took place nine months after the ENVG-B was initially fielded to soldiers at Fort Riley, Kansas who later deployed to Korea.
“We put an incredible tool in the hands of soldiers who need it now,” Assistant Product Manager for the ENVG-B, Maj. John Nikiforakis said in the press release. “But the goal always is to treat the soldier as a system, to equip soldiers and squads holistically with weapons and system elements that work together to make them more lethal and more survivable. That’s what we’re doing here, testing the ENVG-B as a system.”