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Army Soldiers tracking and attacking enemies in fast-moving combat situations will soon be able to shoot targets without bringing their rifle and weapons sights up to their eyes, due to emerging wireless technology connecting thermal sights to night vision goggles, service officials told

Enhanced targeting technology is of particular relevance in fast-developing battle circumstances such as Close Quarter Battle, where targets can emerge and disappear in fractions of a second. Being able to strike quickly can bring added lethality and make the difference between life and death for soldiers.

The technology, called Rapid Target Acquisition, merges two separate army developmental efforts to engineer, deliver and combine new, upgraded night vision goggles, called Enhanced Night Vision Goggle III, or ENVG III, with next-generation thermal weapons sights –called Family of Weapons Sights – Individual, or FWS-I, Army officials said.

“This provides rapid target acquisition capability. The soldier no longer has to shoulder their weapon. If you can imagine looking through a goggle and some target or threat presents itself, a soldier no longer has to come all the way up.” said Lt. Col. Timothy Fuller, Product Manager, Soldier Maneuver Systems, in an interview.

“The night vision goggle takes two channels. Image-intensification where you look through your goggle and see a standard night vision goggle view, and a thermal image all in one image.  The two channels are on top of one another and they are fused together so that you get all of the benefit of both channels,” Maj. Brandon Motte, Assistant Product Manager, Enhanced Night Vision, said.

The technology will also help with maneuverability, command and control by enabling soldiers to see a wider field of view with better resolution and even see infrared lasers, Motte added. The technology is now going through production qualification testing and will be operational in 2017.

“This greatly improves the lethality and visibility in all weather conditions for the soldier – one very small, very lightweight night vision goggle,” Motte said.

Of greatest importance, however, is that the ENVG III will enable the wireless link with the weapon sights mounted on the gun.

The Army plans to acquire as many as 40,000 ENVG IIIs. ENVG III is being engineered to easily integrate FWS-I as soon as it is slated to be operational in 2018.