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The US Army has been enhancing its capabilities in night vision. While the Army is still developing an advanced version of night vision devices, the Marines are looking for a quicker way to see better in the dark to fill a short-term need while they wait for the Army’s solution. Whichever company wins the interim contract will be expected to produce the systems quickly.
A recent request for proposal published by the Marines looks for industry solutions for binocular night vision as part of the Corps’ Squad Binocular Night Vision Goggle (SBNVG) interest. The technology should “consists of a binocular image intensifier night vision goggle, with a modular uncooled thermal imaging sensor, and associated external power supply and helmet mounting system,” as reported by marinecorpstimes.com. The “binocular” aspect of the NVG gives users better depth perception and wider-scale visibility.
The Army has been developing, and is soon to field, its own version, called the ENVG-B, or Enhanced Night Vision Device-Binocular. That program will first field a monocular, version three, advanced night vision device to soldiers early next year, with the binocular version hitting units by next fall.
An estimated 10,000 pairs of the ENVG-Bs will go to soldiers over a three-year period ending in 2021. The Marine Corps is scheduled to receive 3,100 pairs of the Army’s ENVG-B over the same period.
The Army is doing more than simply making it easier to see at night. Its larger program will incorporate a parallel program known as Family of Weapons Sight-Individual, and advanced versions of a data and location display known as Nett Warrior.
In fact, infantry troops will have displays similar to the ones fed into an attack helicopter pilot’s helmet.
The shooting aspect is a feature that’s been showcased to media at Fort Belvoir, Virginia in recent years known as “Rapid Targeting Acquisition” – digital night-vision systems and thermal weapon sights. It allows the shooter to use cameras on the weapon, linked wirelessly to the display, which means a shooter can fire from the hip, see through smoke and shoot around corners without exposing themselves.