In a pitch-black room full of smoke, Marine Sgt. John Finley can still see everything in his path. Equipped with the Enhanced Night Vision Goggle-Binocular, he can even fire his M-4 combat rifle at a target from a covered or concealed position without being exposed to the enemy.
“This is game changing,” he said during a recent demonstration by the Army Futures Command’s Soldier Lethality Cross Functional Team and Program Executive Office Soldier at the 1st Infantry Division in Fort Riley, Kansas.
Finley is among the first Marines and Fort Riley soldiers to test and train with the ENVG-B, the Army’s newest, most advanced night vision goggle designed to increase lethality, situational awareness and mobility during combat in any environment.
“This is historical,” Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston said during a media roundtable. “We’re giving the squad all the tools they need to go out and do the things the nation has asked them to do and we’re increasing their survivability and lethality.”
The ENVG-B is the first day/night capable heads-up display for the dismounted maneuver force. It’s a fused display comprised of image intensifier and thermal imagery in a binocular design, offering improved depth perception and clearer images than previous night vision goggles.
This innovative technology was designed in collaboration with multiple military agencies over two years with feedback from soldiers who tested the equipment.
“We want equipment that is designed by soldiers for soldiers,” said Brig. Gen. Anthony Potts, head of PEO Soldier. “What’s most important is, does the soldier really love the equipment? Does it make them more lethal on the battlefield? Is this the equipment they choose to take out of the arms room and go fight with as necessary?”
For Sgt. 1st Class Brion Baker, the answer is yes.
He said the ENVG-B is far and above any equipment he used during four tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past 16 years.
The ENVG-B is not only lighter — weighing less than 2.5 pounds — it takes fewer batteries to operate and has a digital magnetic compass built into its system.
“This means instead of having to look down at a map, I can just put on my goggle, select a point and go,” said Baker, SL-CFT’s technical adviser.
Everything seen through the new binocular is also clearer and more defined, he said.
“Not only do I see the enhanced site, I can more quickly identify threats and targets,” Baker said.
Wireless technology connects the ENVG-B with the combat rifle, which has a toggle switch allowing the soldier to choose which system he or she needs depending on the conditions or combat situation.
“Through training, managing the toggle becomes second nature, much like driving a standard transmission,” said Maj. John Nikiforakis, assistant product manager for PEO Soldier.
The system also includes augmented reality features from the Nett Warrior display and wireless interconnectivity with the Family of Weapon Sight-Individual, displaying the weapon site in the ENVG-B, allowing soldiers to accurately engage without shouldering the weapon and significantly reducing exposure to enemy fire.
“When we talk about lethality, we’re talking about the ability to identify a target and engage. How many seconds can you take out of that engagement?” Potts said. “That makes a soldier far more lethal than anything they’ve done before and we’re going to continue to grow this capability out so that we really treat the soldier as an integrated weapons platform.”