Military Night Vision For Sale
As military night vision technology moves forward, the advancements in night vision devices becomes more readily available to the general public at discount pricing. Previously only available to military personnel, and then only available to the rich, night vision has come into the general consumer age with affordable night vision goggles, military night vision rifle scopes, thermal imaging optics and night vision monoculars.
While there are many cheap night vision devices available- they mainly rely on first generation technology and are not considered serious night vision equipment. Improvements start at GEN 2 image intensification and this is where you find entry level passive night vision with acceptable clarity and range. Moving up from here we have GEN2+ that now can come in a white phosphor instead of the common “green glow”, and level 3 – for improved clarity, brightness and range in the field.
Thermal imaging offers many different benefits when finding live targets as it rapidly detects heat signatures though sometimes with the trade-off of clarity. This makes it difficult to identify friend or foe. Also, thermal imaging devices do not see through glass, they may be affected by atmospheric conditions such as a warm fog, hot rocks at night and fooled by diversion fires. In snow, one merely covers themselves in snow to dull down detection to blend in to the “grey”.
Lighting Up the Night for Infantrymen!
Typically with individual equipment, requirements for new items originate from the smaller units that have the deepest pockets, namely special forces.
They are those who get the high-tech equipment first, then as new technologies generate further iterations of similar equipment, the earlier generations see their costs beginning to decrease and eventually deployed within conventional units. This has been true in many fields, and one of them remarkably is night vision.
This Compendium will try to analyze what the market is offering to the basic soldier – let’s say the standard infantryman – in terms of sights, goggles and surveillance and targeting systems, bearing in mind that two technologies are involved, namely image intensification and thermal imaging, although the latter goes beyond night vision as it allows to improve soldier’s vision also in daylight and difficult conditions.
Numerous factors must be taken into consideration when looking for equipment to be used by the basic infantryman at a time when budgets are tight cost is definitely one of the most important ones, especially considering the high number of items that have to be acquired to equipment a basic combat element.
In other words an infantry battalion that may need between 400 and 500 pieces of each type, namely goggles for movement and sights for shooting, while the observation/targeting equipment is usually provided only to the unit leader at squad/platoon level. For night vision goggles, generally light intensifiers, the cost originates from the two factors that are the number of tubes used (one or two), and their quality (generally determined by their generation).
Using one tube per eye allows to maintain some depth of view perception, while a single tube dispatching the same information to both eyes gives a totally flat image, which can be a problem for a soldier, for example to evaluate the distance to the next stone on which he has to step.
As for tubes, a latest generation American-made type is not usually available to non-American forces, or to a very, very limited number of countries; some relaxation in the export regime has been introduced recently, which allows exporting tubes with higher figures of merit, that is the number of lines pair per millimeter multiplied by the signal to noise, the data used in America to control image intensification equipment. In the past the technological gap between the America and Europe was considerable, but it now is virtually closed.
Clip-on thermal imagers, allowing to provide some sort of fusion between intensifiers and thermal imagers (infrared sensors) on night vision goggles have appeared in the recent past, but according to their own manufacturers, customers have so far been limited to special forces. For the time being only the Americans have moved to fused goggles, which remains a pretty expensive (and heavy) option.
Many systems consist of head mounts to which hand-held observation intensifiers are attached. Some are even also used in front of day sights to provide the soldier with a night vision aiming capability. It is therefore sometimes difficult to precisely categorize those items.
Night sights can in fact come in two forms, that of a true night sight and that of a clip-on system coupled to a day sight. In the case of sights both light intensifiers and infrared types can be used, presenting of course a different image to the soldier as well as a different bill to the taxpayer, thermal sensors still being much more expensive than intensification devices.
“Fusion of intensifiers and infrareds definitely will be tomorrow’s standard/ but for the time being remains a luxury.”
However, numerous armies around the world have chosen the thermal imaging night vision solution for their soldier modernization programs, both in their integrated or clip-on options. Some have even adopted integrated day/night sights, which usually further increases costs. All sighting and vision solutions have their pros and cons.
Some armies have abandoned integrated sights and returned to modular types not only for cost reasons, but also because handling an assault rifle laden with a relatively heavy sight can be a handicap in perfect clear weather. Indeed the night component located in a pouch or rucksack when not in use has a wholly different impact on a soldiers daily fatigue.
The total weight of a modular system is however higher than that of an integrated system. As for pure night sights, their performances are often higher than those of modular ones. Fusion of intensifies and infra reds definitely will be tomorrows standard but for the time being, this technology remains a luxury.
Indeed as the name implies the use of two sensors, and while digital fusion will improve performance, the usual spreading process has to take place too, although such technology has to gather momentum to reach an price drop threshold.
Turning to surveillance systems, these can be thermals or intensifies and monocular or binocular with integrated compass and rangefinder. Again we will here examine the most basic items, as high-tier long-range specialists’ systems will be dealt with in forthcoming articles.
What some take pride in describing as SWAP for size, cost, and power, is a major issue. While the developmental spiral allows to reduce costs, such items still come at a price and compromises have to be made – from weight, to size, cost and the many other issues.
Image Intensification systems
Image intensification technology is directly linked to the tubes used. Performances have improved through the years and are categorized under the “generation” denomination – or “Gen” for short.
Current entry level systems usually are fitted with Gen-2 or Gen-2+ micro channel plate tubes that unleash the snowball electron development effect before these electrons finally hit the phosphor screen on which they “print the image”.
Gen-2 tubes feature around two million micro channels and multiply the number of electrons by a factor of 100 to 1,000, Gen-2+ tubes see their number of micro channels double to further improve resolution, while higher contrast and reaction levels are obtained by later types of phosphor films on the screen.
A quantum leap was achieved with gallium arsenide photo catodes coupled to 6-12 million micro channels tubes. This is Gen 3, Resolution and service life consistently increased, although to reach the 10,000 working hour mark a thin aluminum film had to be deposited on the photo catode to protect the coating from stray electrons, but this also reduces the number of transmitted electrons.
Further improvements were made which led to an Unofficial Gen-4 designation and whereby the effect of stray electrons on the microchannel plate is achieved by autogating – in other words a very fast shuttering of power supply to the tube to avoid saturation.
EUROPE AN REVOLUTION Military Night Vision
As said earlier, Europe has closed the image intensifying tube technology gap with America particularly with Photonis, whose XD-4 and XR-5 autogating tubes are used by many night vision system manufacturers. The latest addition to the company’s portfolio was unveiled at Eurosatory 2014 and is known as the Intens Revolution tube. The key feature of this new tube is its extended bandwidth.
While other tubes usually collect photons in the 400 to 900 nm band, the Intens Revolution extends that band to 300 nm, moving in the ultraviolet spectrum, and above 1,000 nm, well in the “red” spectrum.
Not only does this broaden the detection-recognition-identification range by a Photon is estimated 40%, but it also ensures full multi-mission capability. Indeed, in a desert night the higher number of photons is found on the left hand side of the spectrum – in the blue-green area – while in the jungle most of the photons fall on the right hand side – the red one.
In a special darkroom allows Photonis to demonstrate the performance of the new tubes to the visitor that left no room flor doubt. Photonis claims that its Intens Revolution can operate down to Level 6 night, which is less than 100 ulx. Another aspect that can be appreciated is the reduced blooming effect in a sudden emergence of a light: the smaller the halo around the source, the better the image.
Quantitative terms provided by the manufacturer state that the Intens Revolution halo reaches a maximum of 0,7mm, compared to the 1-1.25 mm of previous tubes.
In addition, resolution remains higher in high-light situations, something important in urban environments where light conditions vary constantly and where autogating has to prove its worth, Photonis claims that resolution never falls under the 57 line pairs per millimeter, which allows the soldier to continue to see details.
Intens Revolution tubes have already been integrated in numerous systems tested not only by special forces and aviators, but also by at least one European green army. Night vision systems equipped with the new tube have been used since early 2013 by a number of units, generating positive feedback.
By how much the adoption of Intens Revolution tubes increases cost was not revealed, but it is clear that this is another technology that will be adopted sooner rather than later for conventional units, at least in the wealthier countries.
Small Arms Night Sights
Starting from the United States, the first passive image intensifier night sight, the Gen-1 AN/PVS-2, was deployed in 1967 in Vietnam-era, and was replaced in 1978 by the AN/PVS-4, produced by Optical Electronics Corporation, now part of L-3 Warrior Systems.
The US Army then shifted to thermal sights, while image intensifying technology drifted towards other types of applications, mostly night vision goggles and hand-held systems and other dip-on devices and sights.
It thus hardly comes as a surprise that not many American companies have focused their attentions to 12 sights, most products of this category being found among European companies portfolios.
NEWCON OPTIK Military Night Vision
In the north American continent Canada-based Newcon Optik is active in the optronic business for professionals and the military. All of its recent light intensification products are proposed with different types of lubes, depending on customers requirements and pocket depth, starting from Gallium Arsenide Gen-3 tubes, to Gen-3 automating tubes, to Gen-3 autogating black-and-white phosphorus.
The latter was introduced in the last few years, initially on special forces community request, and later “green” armies, as black-and-white is said to reduce eye fatigue when an operator or a soldier has to look through it for the whole night, not to say several nights in a row. Customers also consider black-and-white tubes to provide better contrast, or at least better perceived contrast.
The tubes are around 10% more expensive than their standard green phosphorus counterparts. All tubes are designed and Specified by the company, Newcon Optik products not being submitted to Itar limitations, but to standard Canadian export rules.
The most recent Newcon Optik image intensifying night rifle scope is the DN 493, which was introduced in late 2013. Compared to the previous DN 463 it is much lighter, more compact, and has a number of features that makes it more effective, the main one being the manual gain control through an adjusting knob dose to the eyepiece.
With a 1.68 aperture its 100 mm focal length lens provides a 9° field of view and a x4 magnification, it features an adjustable brightness Mil-Dot lit reticle pattern with windage and elevation adjustment in 0.34 MOA steps. Powered by two AA batteries it has an operational life of 60 hours if the built-in infrared illuminator is not used.
It weighs 900 grams sans batteries and is 235 mm long, 98 mm wide and 80 mm high. The DN 493 has already obtained some commercial successes in the Middle East, and is now beginning to gain momentum in Western Europe.
PYSER-SGI Military Night Vision
Turning to Europe, Pyser-SGI in Britain has combined an image intensifier night vision sight with a red dot sight, giving birth to the PNP-MS. In the basic version equipped with a 25 mm lens, the sight is a x1 magnification item and can be fitted with different types of intensification tubes, from Gen-2+ up to the latest Phot on is tubes such as the autogated XR5A.
The red dot is a 4 mil type while the field of view is 40°. Powered by a single AA battery operating time ranges from 40 to over 100 hours depending on tube and battery type. Immersible down to 20 meters for one hour, the x1 PNP-MS has a weight of 565 grams without battery, its dimensions being 130 x 77 x 67 mm.
Worthy of note, when fitted with longer focal length lenses its weight increases only marginally, 50 grams more for the x2 version with the 50 mm lens and 125 grams more for the x3 version with the 75 mm lens.
MEOPTA Military Night Vision
With a history that can be traced by to the 1930s, Meopta is the reference manufacturer of night vision systems in the Czech Republic, and currently operates production facilities in country as well as in the United States.
The last addition to Meoptas image intensifying; sights catalogue is the ZN4 Lynx, which is proposed to the basic infantryman although its x4 magnification makes it ideal for designated marksmen. It can be fitted either with Photon is XD-4 or XR5 image intensification tubes and provides a 1013 field of view, with minimal focus distance of 50 meters.
Powered by a single LR6 1.5V AA battery it has a minimal operation time of 30 hours, which increases to 95 with a Lithium 3,6 V battery (both figures referring to 20°C standard temperature).
The ZN4 Lynx is capable of detecting a human target at 500 meters; 280 mm long, 101 mm high and 79 mm wide, it weighs 1.15 kg with battery, mount and cover. A first contract has already been obtained in the Czech Republic where the sight will provide night capability to machine gunners armed with the 7.62 mm Minimi machine gun.
PCO Military Night Vision
PCO (Przemyslowe Centrum Optyki for Industrial Optic Center) which is part of the PGZ (Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa for Polish Armaments Group) is the reference Polish night vision systems producer since 1976, In late June 2014 it became the coordinating company for the Tytan Polish soldier modernization program, which regroups a total of 13 companies.
In the image intensification field PCO offers the PCS-5M Gabro, the latest version of the well-known system that has been in production for years, initially with a side mount to attach it to Soviet-era small arms.
Currently only the version equipped with the Pica tinny rail attachment is being produced, the latest versions being equipped with XD4 or XR5 tubes. The 1.3 kg Gabro has a x2.3 magnification and a field of view of 12.5° and runs on an R6/AA 3,6 V lithium battery.
SHVABE Military Night Vision
The two lighter intensifier night sights proposed by Shvabe of Russia are the x1 PN19K-1 and the x3 PN23. The former is fitted with Gen 2 or Gen 3 tubes, ensuring respectively a 150 or 200 meters recognition range under standard illumination conditions. Its 27 mm focal length lens provides a 34 degrees field of view, the sight reticle being provided with brightness control.
The PN-19K1 is equipped with a built-in infrared illuminator increasing the system capacity at short range. When the illuminator is used the single 1.5 V AA battery ensures 1.5 hours of operation, but five with illuminator switched off. Overall dimensions are 195 x 92 x 90.5mm, for a weight of 820 grams.
Weight reduction was obtained with the adoption of smaller diameter tubes, the PN23 sight being the lighter of the Shvabe sights at 670 grams. This x3 sight adopts Gen-3 tubes, its 80 mm focal length lens giving a 1V field of view, the system itself ensuring a 400-metre recognition range. Also equipped with an infrared illuminator, this ensures 15 hours of operation with the illuminator off and six hours otherwise.
MEPRO LIGHT Military Night Vision
In Israel the intensified light night life essentially belongs to Meprolight, which is part of the SK Group that controls other defense-related companies, including Israel Weapons Industries, which allows it to propose small arms turnkey solutions to its customers. Recently Meprolight acquired the operations and assets of New Noga Light to broaden its portfolio.
Me pro light’s catalogue includes optical, electro-optical sights and devices, un-cooled thermal weapon sights, image intensification sights and goggles, laser range finders, and a variety of self-illuminated night sights. The Me pro Mini-Hunter is a lightweight weapon sight that derives from the Company’s Rantel multi role monocular that can accept 18mm Gen-2+ or Gen-3 tubes.
The main differences with the Rantel are the adoption of a x2 magnification lens affording an 18° field of view and that of a passive ballistic reticle. To maintain commonality, the body is the same ruggedized aluminum body as that of the Rantel.
It features a passive ballistic reticle, which can be adjusted ± 14 mrad, with 0.32 mrad click value. The sight is powered by a single 1.5V AA battery that ensures a 40-hour endurance at 20°C and half that time at -30°C. Due to its origins the Mini-Hunter is particularly resistant to heat, and can be used up to +60 degrees. A compact sight, 140mm long, 110mm high with the mounting adapter, and 70mm wide, it weight 390 grams without battery, adapter or daylight cover.
SAGEM Military Night Vision
In France the intensifier sight adopted by the French Armee de Terre for its modern soldier program, the Felin, is a category on its own, as it is one of the very few day/night sights to have entered service, many others having chosen the clip-on concept.
Manufactured by one of the major suppliers of soldier-related night vision equipment, Sagem (which also happens to be the Felin program main contractor), it is now in full distribution and has been used extensively in Afghanistan and Mali.
The French Army approach was to have day and night channels in the same sight, thus two such sights were developed, one with an image intensification channel plus the day channel, and one with the image intensifier being replaced by a thermal imager known as the Sword.
Their day channel is based on a 1,024 x 768 pixels CCD operating in the 400-700nm visible band providing two fields of view, wide (7.6°) and narrow (2,5°), generated by a digital zoom. The image is shown on an 800 x 600 color OLED monocular with a 25° field of view.
This is also used to show the image intensification channel, located under the day channel, which is based on a tube with a 1,280 x 1,024 resolution, an e-zoom allowing to shift from an to a narrower 5° field of view.
Detection range against a man/vehicle target is of 8/10 km in day narrow-field of view and 2/4 km in wide field of view, recognition being of 2/4 km and identification 1/2 km, of course in clear weather, while soldier detection range in night mode is of over 600 meters.
Fully waterproof, the sight weighs less than 1.5kg and can be powered by a three-hour endurance internal battery or be linked to the Felin main power source. A Bluetooth link allows wireless communication with the soldier system, to send the image to a helmet-mounted display to see or shoot around a corner for example (a cable can replace the Bluetooth). The sight is now also part of numerous offers for soldier modernization programs in other nations, in which Sagem takes part either as prime or as a subcontractor responsible tor optronics.
NEWCON OPTIK Military Night Vision
Newcon Optik of Canada also has a day/night sight in the form of the NVS10MGM that features two x3 magnification channels – a day one with an 80 mm F/3,8 lens and a night channel with an 80 nun F/1 .6 lens and a Gen-3 tube, the field of view of both channels being 12°.
Powered by a single AA battery that activates the illuminated tactical reticle as well as the intensifier tube when needed, operating time is 16 hours in daytime and 3.5 hours at night.
The NVS10MGM weighs 1.64 kg. The other category of intensifier sights is the clip-ons, in which intensities are designed to operate together with optic day sights, allowing soldiers to add night vision only when needed.
Among those systems are dedicated clip-on sights as well as multi-role monoculars that can be used as hand-held surveillance devices, night vision goggles or sight attachments. The latter will be dealt with in the appropriate section.
FLIR SYSTEMS Military Night Vision
Flir core business is electro-optics, this American Company being one of the major producers of infra red imaging systems for all types of use, but image intensification is also within the company’s competences.
In the latter field it proposes amongst others the MilSight T90 TaNS clip-on sight equipped with Gen-3 tubes with image intensifying gain ranging from 1,000 to 75,000. The lens has a focal length of 50 mm and an extreme aperture of 0,9, ensuring maximum light transmission, with a x 1 magnification and 14° field of view.
According to Flir, human target detection range varies between 640 meters in starlight with low contrast, up to 1,070 meters in quarter moonlight with optimum contrast, with facial identification ranges in the same conditions being respectively 65 and 106 meters.
The sight is aligned at factory to less than 1/2 minute of angle, repeat-ability being within the same limit, the sight needing no adjustment when in stalled on the rifle thanks to its single locking lever mount.
The T90 TaNS is fitted with Flir’s Shock Mitigation System, which allows to use it from standard carbines and assault rifles up to big caliber sniper rifles, as it be coupled to days copes with magnification ranging from x1 to x8.
The T90 TaNS can operate from -30°C to +60°C, and can remain submersed for two hours at a two-meter depth, it has a weight of 680 grams without battery, the latter being either an AA or a CR123, and is 142 mm long with a maximum height above rail of 77 mm. This clip-on sight is in service with US forces as well as with at least one disclosed European customer.
NEWCON-OPTIK Military Night Vision
One of the latest additions to Newcon-Optik’s image intensification catalogue is the NVS 27, introduced in early 2014. A x1 clip-on sight that can be coupled to day optical sight with magnification ranging from x1 to x20.
It can be fitted either with a conventional green phosphorus Gen-3 tube, an autogating tube, or an autogating black-and-white phosphorus tube, and is fitted with a 78 mm focal length objective with a 1.0 aperture, providing a 12° field of view.
The sight is 219 mm long, 99 mm high and 93 mm wide, and is powered by a single AA or CR123 battery ensuring 60 hours operational time at standard temperature. Without battery the NVS 33 is much more flexible, the older one being compatible with optical sights with magnification ranging from x3 to x12. The capacity to adapt to a much wider set of day sights required a total redesign in the optics, the NVS 27 being mounted only in front of the optical sight.
Capable of sustaining the recoil of long-range sniper rifles, it is suited to the squad-designated marksman, and can also be installed on assault rifles, Newcon Optik has chalked up some contracts since early 2014, and the NVS 27 will be considered the focal point of the company’s 2015 marketing campaign.
QIOPTIQ Military Night Vision
In Britain, QioptiQ being fully involved in the Fist program, is providing the British Army with many of its image intensifying sights. The company offers various standards to meet customers requirements, adapting performances to needs, in-country support being a key criterion as well as thorough personnel training.
QioptiQ is increasingly oriented on European tubes to avoid Itar-related problems. In terms of clip-on systems, the most recent developments are related to the Merlin family and come in four different versions.
The lightest and the smallest is the Merlin-C (for Compact), which is in fact a multi role monocular that can be used hand-held or he!met-mounted. It can house Gen-2 or Gen-3 tubes and is powered by one AA or one AAA battery. It boasts a x1 magnification with a 40s field of view, but can also be equipped with x3, x4 or x5 a focal adapters.
Including batteries it weighs 279 grams. The Merlin-C does not feature any reticle as it is to be used in conjunction with a red-dot CQB reflex sight, the sight being attached to the rifle via a standard Picatinny.
A dedicated clip-on sight, the Merlin-SR (for Short Range) is the other system proposed to the basic soldier and, as with all Merlin sights, is based on the Photonis 18 mm XR5 11 auto-gated image intensifier.
According to company data the Merlin-SR allows to detect a man at 730 meters in a clear starlit night and at nearly 1.6 km with moonlight. Powered by a single AA 1.5 V battery, it can operate for over 40 hours at 20°C. its quick-release mount allows it to be installed without the need for re-zeroing the weapon. Reticles are designed in house according to customers’ requirements.
PYSER-SGI Military Night Vision
Still in Britain, Pyser-SGI developed two clip-on sights, the PNP-MUNS 600 and 900, where the number indicates the maximum recommended range. We shall here describe only the shorter range model, which is the one that fits basic soldier needs. The core usually is a Photon is XD-4 or XR5 tube, autogated or not, or an Onyx with black-and-white phosphorous screen.
These are mostly used by military customers, however export license-tree tubes are also available. its x1 lens provides a 13°field of view and is compatible with day scopes up to x16 magnification, provided the front lens diameter does not exceed 60 mm. Waterproof at 20 meters for one hour, it is 186 mm long, 75 mm high and 85 mm wide, and requires 120 mm of Picatinny rail in front of the day scope for installation.
Built in aluminum and glass polymer, it weighs 690 grams with two lithium AA batteries, battery lite being of 40-100 hours depending on tube and battery type. These two clip-on sights have been Pyser-SGl’s best sellers in recent years and are fully combat proven, although the company does not mention any of its customers.
AIRBUS DEFENCE & SPACE Military Night Vision
Airbus Defense & Space has inherited the optronic activities of what was formerly Cassidian Optronics, which had in 2012 acquired 75.1 % of Carl Zeiss Optronics shares; the remaining shares were then acquired, and effective on 1 October 2014 Cassidian Optronics became a 100% subsidiary of Airbus Defense and Space, operating under the new name of Airbus DS Optronics with headquarters in Oberkochen, Germany.
All night vision systems now come under the new brand, although they maintain their original designations. In the image intensification sights we thus find the NVS 600 x 1 magnification clip-on system, which is part of the standard package provided to the German Army units equipped with the Infauterist der Zukunft – Erweiterte System (IdZ-FS) system, the prime contractor of which is Rheinmetall.
The NVS 600 is fitted with Photonis XD4 or XR5 tubes; with the latter, and coupled to the standard Zeiss Optics ZF 4×30 sight detection, recognition and identification ranges in clear starlight respectively are of around 2.5 km, 1 km and 500 meters, the XD4 tube clearing marginally reduced ranges.
An integrated maintenance and management system allows to know the working hours and on/oft cycles, which helps in the logistic department Powered by one AA battery it has an operational life of over 5O hours, a pulsing image warning of low battery status. The clip-on sight is fitted with a manual gain control, though an automatic brightness control is also available.
An optional a remote control can be used, which allows the soldier to trim the gain while keeping the shooting position. With a 55 mm diameter front lens, the NVS 600 features a 124.5 mm focal length and an 8° field of view.
With batteries and mount it weighs 870 grams, dimensions being 205x91x78 mm The NVS 600 is available to part of the infantry group equipped with the IdZ-ES suite, but the precise split has not been disclosed, it has been widely used in Afghanistan by German soldiers and, according to the company, the systems that returned to Germany were in perfect order.
Beside the German Army the NVS 600 is deployed with German Police Forces, several European armies and police forces, South African Security Forces and several customers in the Near and Middle East, Asia and South America.
WILCO Military Night Vision
In France, Wilcos WS545/555 clip-on intensifier sights are both x1 magnification systems, but have different exit lens diameters, the 545 being 25 mm while the 555’s 34 mm provides 25% higher contrast.
They can be fitted with Gen-2+ and Gen-3 tubes, green or white, and are screwed on the day sight through adapters. Both are powered by a single CR123A 3V lithium battery providing over 60 hours operational time at standard temperature, and are fitted with an IR illuminator.
The WS545 weighs 630 grams while the WS555 is only 20 grams heavier, respective dimensions being 202 x 62 x 80 and 215 x 66 x 80, A cable remote control is available and so is a wireless version on request. Among other options are infrared laser pointers and a x2 magnification eyepiece to use the sight as a handheld monocular for surveillance.
MEOPTA Military Night Vision
In the Czech Republic Meopta’s best-seller remains the NV-Mag 3, a clip-on intensifier attachment with a x3 magnification launched in 2012 and designed to operate together with the company’s M-RAD or ZD-Dot red dot sights.
Depending on customer requirements the image intensification tube can be a Photonis XD-4 or an XR5. Insertion of spacers between the optics and the Picatinny adapter allows to set the scope at the correct shooter’s eye level.
The NV-Mag 3 features a 14″ field of view and allows to detect a human target at 400 meters. Power supply is provided by a single A A battery, either a lithium FR6 or an alkaline LR6, the latter ensuring a 72 hour minimum operation time at 20°C. Meoptas clip-on sight has a weight of 0.8 kg with battery mount and cover, and is 196 mm long, 105 mm high and 73 mm wide.
Thanks to its design, the sight still allows to see the red dot in the middle of the field of view even if it is mounted off-axis. The NV-Mag 3 has been selected by the Czech Army for its soldier modernization program (used on the CZ805 assault rifle).
SHVABE Military Night Vision
Shvabe of Russia proposes the PDN3, which is made of the P01X20 PM day sight coupled with the PN21KT night vision monocular, both with x1 magnification. The latter can be equipped with a Gen-2+ or Gen-3 tube, provides a 36° field of view, and has a weight of only 300 grams.
Powered by a single 1.5V AA battery which ensures a 10-hour operation time with the infrared illuminator switched off the PN21KT is coupled to the day sight which weighs 360 grams and has a 13° field of view. The total length of the two assemblies is 258 mm, 150 mm of the night sight and 108 mm of the day one. The PN21 KT is a direct derivative of the PN21 Knight vision monocular.
Multirole Monocular Intensifiers
Usually those systems are designed as helmet clip-ons, head mounts or hand-held surveillance items, but also as clip-on sights when fitted to the weapon via an appropriate mount and used in conjunction with an optical day sight.
The most widely produced monocular is probably the AN/PVS-14 MNVD (Monocular Night Vision Device)in use with the US military since the early 2000s, Exelis and L-3 Warrior Systems having produced over 15,000 pieces. A 544-gram system including the AA battery and the helmet mount,this x1 magnification model incorporates an infrared illuminator and can be fitted with additional lenses.
In the standard configuration it provides a 40°field of view and has a vision range of 150 meters,the battery ensuring 20 hours of operational time. Themonocular on its own weights 355 grams with eye cup and battery,and can be fitted with amount for installation on the M4 carbine or M16 rifle. Apart from the two above-mentioned companies that have produced the system for the US military, numerous other American companies produce systems with name sending with the 14 figure.
NIGHTLINE Military Night Vision
The Nightline NL914A has the same specs, while the NL914B is a multi battery version that also accepts a 3VCR123A for a 55-hour minimum operation time.
Nightline also has another monocular in its portfolio,the NL14W, available in Gen-2 and Gen-3 configuration, with characteristics similar to the AN/PVS-14 but weighs only 255 grams with a CR123 battery ensuring 40 hours of operation. It can be used in all previously described roles. The MUM (Multi-Use Mini-monocular) is also very similar – only 5 extra grams – the main difference being in submersibility, one meter for 30 minutes for the NL14W and 20 meters for 30 minutes for the MUM.
NIVISYS Military Night Vision
Nivisys is another American AN/PVS-14 maker under the the PVS-14A designation, but its catalogue also carries other multi-role monoculars such as the Puma and the Mum 14, both with Gen-2/3 tubes and a weight of 260 grams, the Mum being submersible to 20 meters. Also N-Vision Optics produces a PVS-14, as well as a GT-14, which weighs 60 grams less than the 380 grams of the previous monocular.
NEWCON-OPTIK Military Night Vision
In Canada the latest addition to the Newcon-Optik range is the NVS14-Mini. Launched in late 2013 it is about 10% lighter than the original NVS 14 but 10 to 12% more expensive. It was thus initially accessible the to less price-sensitive customers such as special forces, but is currently bidding for significant size tenders for conventional armies.
At 268 grams without the single AA or CR123 battery, which provides 40 hours of operation, the NVS 14-Mini features a 27.5 mm focal length lens with a 1.2 aperture, and a 40° field of view. It is fitted with a Gallium Arsenide Gen-3tube, and as most of the products proposed by the Canadian company it can also be optionally fitted with auto gating and black-and-white phosphorus tubes.
The NVS 14-Mini is a multirole monocular, as it can be used as hand-held, a head, a helmet or a weapon mount,in the latter instance coupled to a red dot sight. PYSER-SGI British Pyser-SGI presence in the multi-role monocular field comes with the PNP-M, which was developed in parallel with the PNG-M, abi-ocular single-tube device.
The PNP-M is fitted with high-definition XD-4 and XR5 Photonis high-resolution tubes or with standard-resolution tubes that do not require export license. Tubes are available with or without auto gating,Onyx black-and-white tubes are also available. A x1 magnification system, its 25mm F/1.19 lens provides a 40° field of view.
The body is made of molded glass filled polymer body which allows to keep the weight low – 263 grams without the AA battery ensuring between 40 and 100 hours of operation,depending on tube and battery types,as well as on use or not of the infrared illuminator.
In goggle configuration two devices can be coupled for stereoscopic vision. The PNP-M can also be used hand-held for surveillance, or fitted on a weapon in line with a day sight. A compact system, it is 107mm long, 42mm wide and 67mm high, it can be immersed for up to one hour down to 20 meter of water.
OIP SENSOR SYSTEMS Military Night Vision
Leveraging experience acquired with its Munos, OIP Sensor Systems of Belgium has developed the Loris, the Mk7 being the last version of the family.The device is multirole as it can be fixed on a face mask, fitted to a helmet mount,installed on a weapon, or used as a hand-held observation system.
Mask and helmet mounts allow both monocular and binocular solutions. The Twin Universal Interface features a rotating mechanism that allows each monocular to be flipped up independently, shifting from binocular observation to mono and weapon sight application, a flip-up switch-off feature being integrated in the Loris.
The standard system has a x1 magnification and a 40° field of view, however in option the customer can chose the 60° field of view version, the 50% extra angle reducing tunnel effect and providing a much greater vision of the battlefield. The Loris also features an integrated infrared illuminator to improve short-range work, a warning red dot inside showing that the active system is switched on.
Automatic switch on/off is provided to save energy when ambient light is sufficient, while manual control gain is available. Loris recognition range is estimated at over 200 meters, add-on lenses with x3, x4 or x5 magnification being available to extend that range.
The Loris is not fitted with a reticle, thus for being used for sight a weapon it must be used in conjunction with an infrared pointer; when used on the weapon a flip-away adapter has been developed that fixes on the Picatinny rail to allow quick shift to the optical sight or iron sights. The single alkaline AA battery provides over 48 hours of autonomy at 20°C (over 20 hours with nickel-cadmium).
MILLOG Military Night Vision
The largest manufacturer of night vision devices in the Nordic area, Millog of Finland is a strategic partner of the Finnish armed forces and focuses mostly on national requirements due to the strict export regulations. It does however export at least to friendly countries. Its catalogue contains two multi-function intensifier systems, the VVLite and the VV2000.
The former is a light weight and compact system that can be provided with 18mm tubes of different classes, Gen-2, Gen-3 and XD-4. The tubes are the only items acquired by Millog, which has in-house optics, electronics and mechanical parts production facilities.
The VVLite can used as a hand-held pocket scope,or installed on a head or helmet mount, or coupled to a red dot sight on a Picatinny for night aiming purposes. A dual adapter allows to twin two systems for driving for example, while a x3 tele-extender increases the aiming range when used on a weapon.
The VVLite provides a 40° field of view. The basic tube weighs 340 grams without battery, is 110mm long, 47.5 mm wide and 62.3 mm high, the extender increasing the weight by 350 grams and decreasing the field of view to 10°.
The VVLite is an evolution of the VV2000, which has similar characteristics equipped with Gen-2, Gen-2+ and Gen-3 tubes, and which is slightly heavier and bigger, the basic system weighing 500 grams and the system with extender 830 grams. The VV2000 is powered by two AA batteries and thus has twice the endurance.
It has a number of accessories, such as 130-gram organic light-emitting diode monitor with an SVGA 800×600 resolution that allows the soldier to see and shoot around a corner, a 30-gram wireless video link working on 2.4 GHz or a custom frequency, allowing to send the image to a remote operator (the team commander etc) at a range of between 100 and 1,000 meters. All those accessories are compatible with the VVlite.
WILCO Military Night Vision
Wilco’s portfolio includes the WS 375, which provides the typical 40° field of view when fitted with the standard 26 mm F/1.2 lens. It features a 20mW built-in infrared illuminator and is powered by a CR123 battery ensuring a 55-hour operation time. At 390 grams it is 119mmlong, 56mm wide and 72mm high.
Fitted with green or white tubes ranging from Gen-2+ to Gen-3, with autogating and external gain control options, it is offered with numerous optical configurations to be used mostly for surveillance purposes, ranging from x3 to x10 magnification.
Vectronix of Switzerland, but part of Sagem, proposes the Tarsius 16, which can be used as a hand-held or a helmet-mounted device. It is equipped with a 16mm tube instead of an 18mm tube, which helps reducing weight to 245 grams with battery. The latter can be of three types, CR123A lithium, AA LR6 alkaline or AA HR6 NiMH, autonomy at 20°C being of 55 hours. In surveillance mode it can be fitted with x3 magnification lens.
THEON Military Night Vision
Theon of Greece proposes its NX-122A multipurpose monocular which can be used head or helmet-mounted, as well as handheld or weapon-mounted in conjunction with a day sight. It can be fitted with a variety of tubes, Gen-2+, SuperGen, Gen-3, XD4, XR5 (with or without autogating) or Onyx (black-and-white image), and uses the same mountings as the AN/PVS-7 and AN/PVS- 14 of American origin.
It is offered with or without variable gain control,which has a small impact on weight (from 355 to 340 grams, with battery, cover and the eye cup). It is powered by a 3V CR123A lithium or a AA battery with voltage between of 1.2 to 5 V, a CR123 providing a life of over 45 hours if the infrared illuminator is not intensely used.
The NX-122A is 109mm long, 61mm wide and 70 mm high, and is provided with a fold-up switch-off mechanism, and can be fitted with x3 or x5 magnifiers. Its 27 mm F/1.2 lens provides the standard 40° field of view, and according to Theon recognition and identification ranges are respectively 250 and 130 meters for a human target and 770 and 400 meters for a heavy vehicle, the type of tube not being mentioned.
The latest evolution of that monocular is the NX-122C which can be fitted with Gen-3 hence tubes, and maintains most of the characteristics of the “A” model. It however allows to save some weight, 320 and 315 grams with or without manual gain control, an optional long-range laser illuminator being offered instead of the earlier integrated type.
A new non-gravity dependent fold-up switch-off mechanism is adopted that provides 100% fail safe operations, the “C” model being designed to allow interfacing with thermal clip-on sights. When used for sighting an optional weapon mount with flip away mechanisms offered. The NX-122C is also submersible down to a 20-metre depth.
PCO Military Night Vision
Polish soldiers operating in Afghanistan have received the latest version of PCO’s MU-3 Kos night vision monocular – the MU-3M Koliber – which is equipped with a 16 mm intensification tube. The choice of a spherical lenses allowed to make it shorter than the previous MU-3 at 97mm.
The MU-3M weighs 250 grams without battery, over 110 grams less than the original MU-3. Power is courtesy of AA batteries of different voltages (1.5V, 1.2Vor 3.6V) or by a D123 3.0 V unit. The MU-3M can be attached to a bridge fixed to the helmet and one or two monoculars can be used depending on the task.
Used as an observation tool the x1, 40° field-of-view Koliber can be equipped with x3 or x5 adapters. Used in conjunction with the CK-6 sight it allows night aiming on small arms.
OPTICO ELECTRON Military Night Vision
With over 40 years of experience with opto-mechanical and optronic devices Optico electron of Bulgaria is involved in the production of systems covering a wide range of requirements, amongst others some dedicated to the soldier. Its MNV-50 scope can be equipped with 18mmtubes of Gen-2, Gen-3 and SuperGen types.
With its x1 magnification and 20° field of view, it allows has a recognition range of over 700 meters in 1.10-3 Lux conditions and an identification range of over 500 meters. Two types of batteries can be used, a lithium AA3.6V one ensuring a 55-hour endurance. or a 1.5V alkaline AA for a 13-hour service.
The MNV-50 weighs 630 grams and is 205mmlong, 55mm wide and 74 mm high. Though not designed to be used as a head or helmet mounted system, it can be used as a handheld unit or clipped onto a variety of supports.
ELBIT Military Night Vision
In Israel, Elbit’s catalogue mostly includes high-tier products dedicated to long-range target acquisition, but also products that fall in the category examined in this Compendium. Elbit Systems ITL proposes the Mini N/SEAS, a monocular that can be used on single-ordual-eye mounts, although the one tube configuration is mostly used in combat conditions while the twin-configuration is rather used for driving.
A x1 magnification and 40° field-of-view type, it can be fitted with various image intensifying tubes such as Gen-2+, SuperGen, Gen-3, XD-4 or XR5, with or sans autogating. Equipped with an infrared illuminator, it is powered by a single 1.5V AA alkaline or by a single 3.6V lithium battery, ensuring more than 24 hours of operation.
The monocular can be mounted on a variety of head or helmet mounts and weighs of 380 grams, length height and width being respectively 115 mm, 71 mm and 40mm. A 20-meter submersible version can be mounted on a diving mask.
It can also be used on assault rifles, coupled to a reflex or holographic sight. The XACT-NV32 is the latest member of Elbit’s image intensifiers family, which besides the Photonis XD-4 and XR5 sensors can be fitted with the latest Intens tube from the same company.
A x1 magnification with a 40° field of view, the new monocular has considerable advantages over the Mini N/SEAS both in terms of weight and power consumption. Using the same power source as its predecessor the operating time is more than doubled to 53 hours with a lithium battery at standard temperature, while its weight is reduced by over 40% to less than 210 grams while still carrying an infrared laser illuminator. The XACT-NV32 is fully compatible with the head and helmet mounts used with the Mini N/SEAS.
MEPROLIGHT Military Night Vision
Meprolight, also from Israel, offers the Rantel in the multi-mission monocular field. It is the base for the Mini-Hunter sight seen earlier. It accepts the same tubes, but being a x1 magnification system it provides a 40° field of view.
The 365-gram results from the use of an aluminum case to make the system as ruggedized as possible; dimensions are 140 x 110 x 70mm. The sight is powered by a single AA battery providing 40 hours of operation at 20°C and 12 hours between 0 and -30°C.
The Rantel can be used as a hand-held observation device, x3 and x5 a focal lens being available for longer range observation, as a head-mounted single-tube scope, or as a clip-on sight with a weapon mount.
Inherited from the New Noga Light catalogue in which it was called NL-92, the Minimon (L) might look like a copy of the Rantel, but according to Meprolight this is not the case as the newly acquired product weighs only 270 grams without Picatinny and battery which allows the company to answer bids in which weight is a priority; moreover the sight is also submersible down to 20 meters unlike the Rantel.
Very compact, 120 mm long, 43 mm wide and 66 mm high, its lightness comes from the all-composite approach adopted for the body. It accepts 18mm Gen-2+ or Gen-3 tubes and features an f1.2 lens with a 40° field of view.
An integral infrared diode illuminator with a range of around three meters improves operational capabilities in confined space and can be used for map reading at night. The kit is provided with a head mount assembly that ensures the required 15mm eye relief and the battery, a CR123, provides a 40-hour endurance (optionally an AA 1,5V battery powered system is available and so are a flip-up helmet as well as a head or weapon mount.
The Minimon (L) is compatible with reflex and holographic sights, as well as with near infrared laser aiming and illuminating systems. If used as a hand-held observation device the Minimon (L) can be equipped with a x3, x4 or x5 lenses.
Night Vision Goggles
While the previous section included all those monoculars that can be used as nigh vision goggles, particularly when twinned, this chapter deals with systems truly born as night vision goggles. When cost is at stake though, single tube systems are usually considered.
As usual US Army issue equipment stands heads and shoulders above the others in terms of numbers, the AN/PVS-7 having been in service since the late 1980s and produced in at least four variants, from “A” to “D”, with the more recent one fitted with Gen-3 tubes.
A x1 magnification single-tube system with biocular view, it can be carried by a face mask or a helmet mount. The AN/PVS-7 26mm focal length 1.2 aperture objective provides a 40° field of view and ensures a detection range of over 300 meters in starlight, with a recognition range of over 200 meters.
It features an infrared illuminator and is powered by two AA batteries that provide around 80 hours of operational life when the illuminator is not used, and has a weight of 680 grams. The US military placed production contracts to four manufacturers, ITT Industries (now Exelis), Litton Industries, Northrop Grumman and L-3 Communications, now all part of L-3 Warrior Systems.
The system is still part of the portfolio and has been exported to many countries. Other North-American companies produce systems to AN/PVS-7 requirements. Nightline’s NL963B is based on the AN/PVS-7 and has similar performances, as is the NVision Optics PVS-7.
The Canadian Newcon-Optik NVS 7, depending on the tube used (all Gen-3), becomes the 3XT, the 3AG with auto-gating and the 3AGBW with auto-gating black-and white phosphorus tube.
It features a built-in light sensor that automatically switches the tubes off after 30 seconds in normal ambient light, which considerably helps avoiding burning tusbes. A compact system (150mm long, 120mm wide and 55mm high), the all versions of the Newcon-Optik NVS 7 have been exported to over 50 countries and is still in very high demand.
PYSER-SGI Military Night Vision
The British Pyser-SGI PNG-M bi-ocular single-tube systemwas developed in parallel with the PNP-M multi-role monocular, many building blocks are thus the same, such as optics and tubes.
It was designed to keep the centre of gravity as close as possible to the rear to minimise neck strain when used on a face mask or on a helmet, and is fitted with the typical flip-up/flip-down switch. The PNG-M is 137 mm long, 147mm wide and 51 mm high and weighs 425 grams with the AA battery ensuring over 40 hours of operating time. It is also has a powerful infrared illuminator for short distance reading.
THALES Military Night Vision
In the late ’90s Thales introduced the Lucie, a single-tube bi-ocular system that can be equipped with Gen-2 or Gen-3 – and optionally – autogated tubes, which featured two key characteristics: a wide field of view, 51° compared to the standard 40°, and a very compact shape, its depth being of only 69mm, which in turn brings the centre of gravity close to the helmet to reduceneck strain.
The Lucie is fitted with an infrared illuminator, can be immersed in water for two hours and can be powered by a single AA battery of different types (1.5 V or 3.6 V standard or 1.2 V rechargeable, the 1.5 V variety giving 45 hours of use at 20°C). A x3.8 or x5 magnifier can be installed, which reduces the field of view to 9° and 10° respectively. The Lucie obtained a considerable success with more than 50,000 produced and delivered to services in over 10 nations.
This design was maintained in its successor, the Minie, which in its basic version is even lighter at 340 grams with battery versus 435 grams, but depth slightly increased to only 75 mm.
The new Minie introduces also a manually adjustable brightness gain on the on/off button, while interpupillary distance can now be varied between 56 and 74 mm. Power sources remain the same, but life battery time in standard conditions is increased to 50 hours.
With battlefield digitisation becoming a reality, Thales further developed its NVG to the Minie-D standard. This maintains the features of the Minie, adding a 800×600 pixels micro display with a 42.5° diagonal field of view that allows to superimpose data or video feed onto the night vision image.
The 800 x 600 pixel video rectangle is shown in the middle of the circular image and can contain different types of information: if linked to a navigation system via the RS232 port, data such as position, distance to waypoint, etc. can be displayed; or if a blue force tracking system is attached a map with friends and enemy positions can be shown.
In video mode, RS170, VGA, SVGA or CCIR inputs are supported, images from other sensors can be viewed, i.e. those from the weapon sight, giving the soldier the capacity to view or shoot around a corner, without the need to use a dedicated head mounted display.
All this comes with minimal penalties over the basic version, weight being increased by only 30 grams (plus the cable linking it to external devices), width being also slightly increased, from 112 to 125 mm, and depth by only two millimeters.
Power source is now one AA 1.5 V battery with same battery life as the Minie, however when using video a five AA battery pack is required unless the Minie-D is linked to a soldier system power supply. The Minie-D has been adopted by the French Army for its Félin soldier modernization program as well as by other undisclosed customers.
The last improvement step to the Minie is the Minie-D/IR. As the last two letters indicate, this adds an infrared module – in other words a thermal imager – to the existing image intensifying mode to provide in three different modes, namely full infrared, threshold or contours.
The infrared module covers a 36° field of view, the image being providedby a 336 x 256-pixel uncooled microbolometer sensor operating in the 7.5 – 13.5 μmband. This is shown on an SVGA 800 x 600-pixel display, also used to superimpose data or video images.
The Minie-D/IR thermal module is located on the right of the unit, stretching its width to 142mm, depth remaining as in the Minie-D, while weight increases to 500 grams. When not needed the IR module can be disconnected, a cover protecting the connector.
Power is still provided by the single AA battery, its life changing depending on the use of the infrared module: 2.5 hours with, 40 hours without.The five-battery pack increases those figures to respectively 18 and 150 hours.
The Minie-D/IR has been adopted among others by Germany, whose army selected it for the Rheinmetall-led IdZ-ES soldier modernisation programme, with first kits officially delivered in March 2013.
While Thales advertises its Minie as the most compact and lightweight goggle available on the market, its Monie is advertised in the same way in the monocular field.
While maintaining the same optical characteristics as the Minie, the Monie weighs only 280 grams and is only 69mm deep. Directly derived from the biocular version, it can also be used in binocular configuration to provide better depth perception, doubling of course the eight, or associated with a red dot sight on a weapon.
OIP Military Night Vision
OIP Sensor Systems of Belgium is well known for its night vision systems. Its latest night vision goggle is the Felis, a bi-ocular single-tube item that provides a 51° field of view and features a built-in infrared illuminator that allows to improve visibility at close range when needed.
Designed to make the best of the latest evolutions of 18mm intensifier, the Felis can be also used as a handheld observation system when not used in combination with a face mask or a helmet mount.
An integrated light sensor provides automatic gain control, the Felis featuring a programmable logic to adapt it to customers’ needs. Power is provided by a single AA battery which if of the alkaline type has aworking life of over 48 hours at 20°C, which are reduced to 25 when using a nickel cadmium type with nonautogating tubes and without illuminator; a flip-up/switch-off system ensures reduced battery consumption.
To extend the range, especially when used as a hand-held device, the Felis can be equipped with add-on x3 orx4 lenses. In its base configuration the system weighs less than 505 grams without battery and accessories, and is 160mm long, 122mm wide and 80mm high.
OPTICOELECTRON Military Night Vision
Opticoelectron’s catalogue boasts one goggle, the OENG-E, a single- tube bi-ocular system fitted with a Photonis XD-4 tube, with autogating on option. A x1 magnification goggle with standard 40° field of view, it allows inter-pupillary adjustment between 58 and 72mm, and has a weight of 440 grams, a depth of 150mm, a width of 123mm and a height of 61 mm.
It is powered by two 1.5 V AA batteries, which for longer lifeor for increased low temperature (-40°C) operation can be replaced by two 3.6V li-ion AA batteries.
SHVABE Military Night Vision
In Russia Shvabe’s catalogue carries the PN-14K, a single tube biocular that can be fitted with Gen-2+ or Gen-3 tubes, and with lenses of different types (x1, x3.6, x5 and x8), the one considered for soldier use being the x1.
This has a 27mm focal length and a 1.25 aperture, and provides a 40° field of view. As all Shvabe intensifier systems the PN-14K features an infrared illuminator powered by the unit’s AA 1.5 V battery that gives a 10-hour operation sans illuminator.
When used as a hand-held device the PN-14K weighs 530 grams and is 182mm long, 124mm wide and 64 mm high. With two headmounts weight increase to 770 grams.
Other single-tube bi-oculars are available on the market, although some armies prefer twin-tube systems for their better depth-of-view perception. They are a pilot’s favourite, but when budgets are less tight ground units may also get them – and not only for drivers.
In the United States the AN/PVS-15 has not been distributed to the green army though and remained a special forces item. The same is so far true for its successor, the AN/PVS-31, unlike theAN/PVS-21, also known as LPNVG (Low Profile NVG), which is in use also in conventional units and also deployed with numerous allied nations such as Britain, Canada and Italy.
Developed by Special Technical Services – Electro Optics, now O’Gara Sensor Systems Division, its key feature is that the two tubes are positioned vertically with the objective lens located in the lower position (roughly on the soldier’s cheeks), the image being shown on two see-through lenses located in front of the soldier’s eyes.
When the external light is sufficient the tubes automatically switch off allowing the operator to have an un-aided field of view of 160° x 95° compared to the 40° intensified field of view. Two infrared led illuminators are available.
The AN/PVS-21 is fitted with ports allowing to inject images or text lines from other sources, effectively making it a helmet mounted display. Powered by a single AA battery, it weighs 760 grams, but its low profile, it protrudes less than 80 mm, considerably reduces the fatigue andmakes it optimal for operations in urban terrain.
The AN/PVS-21 can operate at altitudes of 10,500 metres over sea level and has been qualified for high-altitude parachute operations. A monocular version, the Model 2740 Low Profile Night Vision Monocular, is also available.
EXELIS Military Night Vision
Exelis, for its part, developed the i-Aware Tactical, also known as TM-NVG (Tactical Mobility NVG), a twin-tube goggle the primary channel of which also displays information, pictures and videos, thereby adding the functions of a helmet mounted display. In addition the TM-NVG allows the operator to capture the image seen, still or video, and export it to another user via the network.
Definitely a high-end system, it has however been adopted by two launch customers, an undisclosed Middle East service and the Italian Army, the latter having selected the system for its Soldato Futuro programme. Exelis manufactures its own Gen-3 tubes and are thus used here, current relaxation on export rules allowing Exelis to propose autogating tubes with higher figures of merit.
The primary monocular of the TM-NVG has an image intensified field of viewof over 40° while the SVGA 800 x 600-pixel display (where data and images are shown) has a diagonal field of viewof 33°, brightness gain being automatically adapted to light conditions. The sensor that captures images has a 960 x 680-pixel array.
In videomode it works at up to 10 frames per second, images being exported in USB2.0 High speed. Video input supports different formats such as SVGA/VGA, RS-170, NTSC or PAL. The secondary monocular of the is a standard intensified item, the user being able to install the primary tube in front of its preferred eye.
Each tube is powered by a AA lithium battery giving a working time of over 15 hours at standard temperature although time is of course reduced if the image display is used or images are captured. Overall the TM-NVG, with primary and secondary monocular, bridge, helme tmount, shroud with strap, but sans batteries weighs less than one kilo.
The systemis designed to ensure maximum ease of integration into soldier modernisation programmes. Exelis is currently bringing an in-house developed thermal element into the TM-NVG system, to provide an overlay to the intensified image. The company expecting a first order for this enhanced product by late 2014.
SELEX Military Night Vision
Selex Galileo, now part of Selex-ES, has been part of the Italian Soldato Futuro programme since the very beginning, its main responsibility being the development of night vision systems for the soldier.
However the task was not to design and produce stand alone systems, but to generate a series of systems that were fully integratable into the soldier system.
For soldier’s night vision the company developed the Nimos, the first version of which was based on a CCD lowlight level camera the image with images sent to an display installed in front of the soldier’s eye.
Although it answered the original Army specs, the system was considered outdated and, as said earlier, the company signed an agreement with ITTExel is, the US company providing the i-Aware technology that is then packaged by Selex ES with the elements required for straight integration into the Soldato Futuro suite.
Selex ES is looking at further evolutions, such as the fusion of intensified and thermal images that is already under development by its American partner. Other novelties include helmet-contained capacities such as navigation facilities.
WILCO Military Night Vision
The standard Wilco offer in the NVG field is the WWS 8. This is a single-tube biocular using the same tube and lenses as the previously described WS 375. It is a flexible system and can thus to cover missions requiring x1 magnification and 40° field of view of the 26 mm lens, up to x10 magnification of the 250mm lens.
The goggle in the x1 version weighs 490 grams and is powered by two AA batteries ensuring over 60 hours of operation.
PCO Military Night Vision
The latest addition to the Polish PCO catalogue is the PNL-2AD/M Szpak, unveiled at MSPO 2014, which is a further evolution to the existing two-tube PNL-2AD Sokół NVG. The newest version weighs 590 grams without batteries – 110 grams lighter than the previous model.
It is more compact and maintains the x1 magnification and the 40° field of view. Its main advantage is that it is equipped with the state-of-the art Photonis Intens that provide much better performances.
Waterproof down to nine metres, the Sokół is powered by a 3.6 V AA lithium battery or by a rechargeable 1.2 V AA, working time for the former being 15 hours at 20°C temperature.
MEPROLIGHT Military Night Vision
Meprolight of Israel offers the Boxer NVG, a binocular system with a single 18mm Gen-II+ or Gen-III tube that provides a x1 magnification and a 40° field of view. At 0.5 kg without batteries and mask and 0.81 kg in operation, the Boxer features anoptic with 26mm focal length and f 1.2 aperture, x3, x4 and x5 clip-on magnification optics being available.
The mask allows to trim the interpupillary distance between 55 and 72mm, eye relief being of 15 mm. The Meprolight NVG is powered by two 1.5V or one 3.6 V batteries, allowing for 80 hours of continuous operations.
State-of-the-art uncooled sensors have a 17μm pitch, although to keep costs lowmany thermal systems still use focal plane arrays with a 25-μm pitch. Obviously the smaller the pitch the higher the number of pixels that can be fitted into a sensor of a given size, the higher the resolution obtained.
According tomany companies a further step in pitch decrease in uncooled systems should occurwithin the next five years, with a 12μm pitch target. This means that the number of pixels on a sensor the size of a current 640×480 will nearly double.
Conversely the reduced pitch can be exploited to produce smaller sensors while maintaining the current number of pixels, opening a battle of resolution against size, weight and endurance. As usual when new sensors are available their priceswill initially be quite high and therefore used in niche systems dedicated to specialist soldiers.
Although not strictly related to the systems described in this Compendium, the world of cooled sensors is also evolving, one aimamong others being the reduction of the pitch fromthe current 15μm to 10μm.
This will allow to more than double the number of pixels for a given sensor size, or conversely more than halve a sensor surface to considerably reduce the required cooling power, with weight advantages even higher than in the uncooled world.
THERMAL SIGHTS Military Night Vision
Among thermal imaging weapon sights the AN/PAS-13WTS (Weapon Thermal Sight) is the item produced in greater numbers, over 33,000 among the three models, light, medium and heavy; in service with the US Army since 1998, the WTS has consistently evolved along the years while maintaining its name.
The light element of the trio, the AN/PAS-13 LWTS, was originally based on a 320 x 240 uncooled sensor with a 25μm pitch working in the 8-12μm wave length. The evolution in sensors lead to a series of improved versions, the later having a 640 x 480 17μm pitch sensor. The new LWTS features reduced dimensions (170 x 97 x 66mmversus 290 x 120 x 90 mm) and weight (816 grams with batteries and rail grabber versus 907 grams).
The change also had an impact on magnification, which originally was x1.55 in wide field of view mode and x3.1 in narrow mode thanks to a x2 electronic zoom, and now become respectively x1 (14.2° FoV) and x2. The LWTS ensures a 70% probability of detecting a human being at 1,100 metres in clear weather (reduced to 360 metres in adverse conditions, but with a 90% probability).
Four buttons on the top of the sight allow the soldier to operate it via control menus and switch polarity from “white hot” to “black hot”, and can capture images in videomode (RS-170) for training, image transfer or remote viewing.
Start-up time is reduced from 20 to five seconds, power being provided by four L91 AA lithium batteries; older models had a mission endurance of 10 hours with one battery change, while in most recent ones this has been increased to 20 hours at 25°C (but 14 hours at –37°).
The LWTSAN/PAS-13(V1) is designed for the M4 carbine, the M16 assault rifle, the M203 under barrel grenade launcher and the M136 anti-tank rocket launcher (Saab Dynamics AT-4).
FY15 should see the completion of deliveries, (scheduled for June) and full operational capability. As for the MWTS and HWTS, these are designed mostly for crew served weapons and rely on 640 x 480 sensors. Three providers were selected to delivery the AN/PAS-13 family sights, BAE Systems, DRS Technologies and Raytheon.
Looking into the future, the US Army has just launched a new programme to acquire the Family of Weapon Sights (FWS), which will include individual, crew-served and sniper versions.
They will be based on uncooled thermal sensors, the clip-on thermal sight coming with a wireless link that will allow the soldier to observe the sight image and the reticle in his AN/PSQ-20 Enhanced Night Vision Goggle III.
This will give the soldier the ability to shoot without exposing himself, the Rapid Target Acquisition feature allowing to considerably reduce target engagement time, around 50% according to available data.
The FWS-I (Individual) will weigh less than 907 grams, will have an 18° field of view, an acquisition range of 960 meteres, and seven hours of operation time with one battery change, the number of AA batteries used to operate the system having not yet been decided.
In May 2004 the Army Contracting Command at Aberdeen Proving Ground, announced that two 800 million US$ contracts had been awarded to BAE Systems Electronic Systems and DRS Technologies Imaging and Targeting Solutions (ITS) to develop the FWS-I and ENVG III, the two companies competing for separate Army orders over the next five years.
Both competitors will use a Ultra-Wide Band radio technology to connect sight and goggles via ahigh-speed, difficult-to detect link provided by Texas-based Alereon, the link allowing toget rid of the wire between the weapon sight and goggle, reducing weight and avoiding snag hazards.
NIVISYS Military Night Vision
In the thermal sight field Nivisys in America proposes different families of systems, each one in various versions both in terms of sensors and lenses. The Taws (Thermal Acquisition Weapon Sight) series can be fitted with three different Vanadium Oxide microbolometer sensors from Flir Systems.
These are 160 x 120with a 25 μmpitch, 320 x 240 with the same pitch or as option with 17μm pitch, and 640 x 480 with 17μm pitch, all working in the 7 – 14μm band, obviously with cost penalty.
At the lower endof the scale is the Taws-16, the number reflecting the two first digits of the number of horizontal pixels of the sensor. This is provided only with a 35mmF/1.4 lens giving a x2.3magnification and a 7°x 5° field of view, with a 695 – or 1,328-metre detection range against man-size or vehicle-size targets.
The Taws series are provided either with LCD or OLED colour display, a “c” or an “i” suffix being added to the name.
All Taws sights equipped with a 35mm lens (which adds a further M to the designation) weigh 590 grams with batteries, their dimensions being 152 x 68 x 68 mm. The – 16cM and -16iM feature selectable reticles and digital windage and elevation adjustments, polarity, display brightness and digital zoom controls, as well as a series of different display modes. These include analert mode (red over white hot/cold), monochrome, and four different colour modes, that allow to optimise the view depending on situation.
A remote switch is provided for setting the sight while maintaining the shooting position, with the same direct button function system adopted on the sight itself. Power is provided by two CR123 lithium batteries ensuring four hours of operation.
All those features are common to the entire Taws family, including an image capture system to store stills or videos on an internal memory, which can then be transferred to an SD card using an optional kit to that effect.
Switching to the 320 x 240 sensor, thus to the Taws-32, this is provided with three different lenses, 35mm F/1.4 (M), 60mm F/1.25 (L) and 100mmF/1.4 (E),which when using a 25μm pitch sensor provide respectively x1.8, x3.1 and x5.4 magnification.
Compared to the previously mentioned figures weight and dimensions for the 60mm increase to 724 grams and 180 x 67 x 74mm dimensions, 100mm ones going up to 1,167 grams and 249 x 86 x 86mm. We will stick here to the lower magnification sights, which are those most used by basic soldiers.
The Taws-32cM and – 32iM have an 13°x10° field of view, their identification ranges being of 719 and 1,368 metres depending on target, physical data remaining similar to those of the Taws-16.
The version with a 17μm pitch sensor has a narrower field of viewat 9° x 7°, but increases ranges to 883 and 1,679 metres respectively.
The top system among 35mm systems is the Taws-64, with the bigger focal plane array; this has a x1.4 magnification and 719 and 1,368 metre ranges, but with an 18° x 13° field of viewand better resolution.
NEWCON-OPTIK Military Night Vision
Newcon-Optik’s proposal in thermal sights is the TVS 13M, which can be had with two different types of uncooled focal plane array, a 384×288 pixels with 25μm pitch or a 640×480 pixels,with 17μm pitch, both working in the 7-14μm band but at considerably different prices.
The 54mm focal length lens provides a x2 magnification and, depending on the array, a 10° x 8° field of viewor a 12° x 9°; a x2 and x4 electronic zoom are available, a x8 capacity being provided as option.
Detection, recognition and identification ranges on a human target are respectively of 1,800, 450 and 225 metres. The TVS 13M is fitted with eight preprogrammed reticles and four ballistic profiles, which allows to quickly adapt it to theweaponinuse,while automatic reticle colour inversion ensures maximum visibility of the reticle depending on the polarity or the colour chosen, the sight allowing for sepia, rainbowor other options.
Each device can keep in memory three zeroing pre-sets, which allows one to quickly re-zero the weapon-sight assembly with a few confirmation shots when the sight has been moved to other weapons before being put back on the original one.
A large variety of reticle patterns can be developed, the Canadian company being ready to provide them to customers for installation on in service sights, all the operation being software-based.
A PAL or NTSC video output is also available. The sight is powered by six AA batteries ensuring eight hours operational life, the weight being 950 grams without batteries, while dimensions are 280 x 68 x 78 mm. Launched in 2012, the TVS 13Mhas obtained numerous successes on the international market.
QIOPTIQ Military Night Vision
QioptiQ’s portfolio of thermal sights for small arms includes the Dragon family, which itself includes Compact and Short Range models dedicated to the infantry soldier –the longer range systems being more aimed at machine gunners and snipers.
The lighter of the family – at less than 390 grams without batteries and mount – is the Dragon-C, which is only 135mm long, 83mm high and 70 mm wide. Its uncooled sensor comes in a 320 x 240 pixel focal plane array with a 25 μm pitch, the system operating in the 8-12 μm band.
With a x1 magnification sight, it has a 16° horizontal field of viewand allows to detect amanat 910 metres, or at 1,070 metres with the x2 electronic zoom. Its aluminium case not only ensures “soldierproofness”, but also enhances its electro-magnetic compatibility properties.
The sight runs on two AA 1.5 volt lithium batteries that provide over five hours of continuous operation, however external power can be used. Push-buttons located on top of the sight allow to control polarity, zoom, brightness, and to carry out system setting; an RS232 communication port is present, which allows to extract and forward the images to other displays or recording devices.
The Dragon-C is a sight in itself, as it features a series of reticles that can be chosen via the system menu, however these can also be excluded the thermal system then being used either as a hand-held observation device, or as a clip-on that can be installed in front of optical sights up to x4 magnification.
Due to its compactness and light weight the Dragon-C has been chosen by Germany for its Infanterist der Zukunft – Erweiterte System (IdZ-ES) programme as the standard thermal sight for short range engagements, and it is operated in conjunction with the Zeiss Optics 4×30 day sight.
Considerably heavier at 730 grams without batteries and mount, and bigger (245mm long, 121 mm high and 94 mm wide), the Dragon-SR features the same sensor as the Dragon-C, but its optics provide a x3 magnification and an 8° field of view. It also adds a x2 electronic zoom.
Detection range of a human is 2.3 km in standard mode and varies only marginally when using the ezoom. Four AA lithium batteries are located on the left side of the sight, and ensure over eight hours of continuous operation at 23°C.
An optional holographic sight can be installed over the thermal one to be used in close quarter battle. For the British Fist programme the Dragon-SR has evolved into the FTS2, while originally British soldiers got the FTS1, which was derived from the older Vipir sight.
PYSER SGI Military Night Vision
The latest product from Pyser SGI in Britain is the PNP-MTHDS, a thermal imaging weapon sight designed for small arms up to 7.62×51 mm calibre and that the company claims to be the smallest and the lightest.
Ready for delivery since late 2013, it is available with three different lenses with focal lengths of 17, 25 and 35 mm and respective magnifications of x1, x1.5 and x2, and fields of view of 36° x 29°, 25° x 19° and 18° x 14.5°.
These feed the image to a 640×480 pixels high-definition amorphous silicon uncooled microbolometer with a 17μm pitch and a 25 Hz refresh rate. The image is shown on a monochrome 852×600 pixels SVGA display providing a 35° apparent image on horizontal angle avoiding the tunnel vision effect; if needed x2 and x4 electronic zoom modes are available.
Five reticles are available plus a noreticle mode for observation, windage and elevation setting depending on the lens, one mil-per-click for the shorter one and 0.7 and 0.5-mil-per-click for the other ones.
The soldier can chose polarity and set screen brightness thanks to push buttons available on the right of the scope, where the two CR123A lithium batteries that provide up to seven hours of operation are also located. Weight and length depend on the optics, the 17 mm version being 347 grams heavywithout batteries, 96mm long, 74mm high and 77 mm wide, weight increasing to 377 and 392 grams with longer lenses while length goes up to 110 and 122mm.
The shorter lens version ensures detection of a human size target at 62 5metres, recognition at 315 metres and identification at 160 metres, without using the digital zoom; these figures increase lineary with the magnification provided by the longer lenses.
The PNP-MTHDS features a PAL video output; the MTHDES version with integrated digital video recording capability is 155 grams heavier and its height augments by 19mm. It features a 32Gb memory which can accept 40 to 120 hours of recordings depending on resolution. The sight can be immersed at a one meter depth for half an hour. No indications on customers were provided, although the company underlines that the PNP-MTHDS is an Itar-free item.
SAGEM Military Night Vision
Very similar to the previously-mentioned intensifier day sight of the Félin programme, Sagem also developed the thermal imaging/day sight known as Sword T/D, which is physically very similar to the earlier one but sees the image intensification tube swapped in favour of a thermal imager, and has the day channel under the thermal viewer. The latter is based on a 384 x 288 pixels uncooled bolometric sensor that provides a wide field of viewof 9.4°, reduced to 4.7°with the electronic zoom.
This gives a detection range of man/vehicle targets of 2/3.4 km, and a recognition range of 700/1,200 meters. Weight is similar to the intensifier version, namely 1.5 kg, and power supply remains the same. As for the intensifier/day sight, it is also proposed as the basis for modernisation programmes other than the French one.
With the Félin feather in its cap, Sagem looked at the export market and developed a cheaper and lighter system, but only thermal though, to satisfy the requirements of those nations that are not looking for an integrated day/night sight.
This gave birth to the Sword Light, which uses the same sensor as the Sword T/D’s and is available in two models, the Sword Light-25 and the –35, where the numbers indicate the lens focal length in millimetres (both have a x2 and x3 digital zoom).
The Sword Light-25 has a x1.1 magnification and provides a 22° field of view, the x3 zoom narrowing it to 7.3°; the 35mm model has a x1.6 magnification and a 15.7° field of view, the x3 zoom reducing this to 5.2°.
The difference in focal length obviously changes the detection/reconnaissance/identification ranges, which for the Sword Light-25 are 930/310/160 metres for a human target and 1,600/550/280 metres for a vehicle target, these being increased respectively to 1,200/400/200 and 2,070/720/370 metres for the 35mm version.
An analog video output allows to export images in PAL format. Digital MP4 and USB 2.0 port are available as an option, as is an internal 4 to 8Gb memory. The Sword Light is powered by four AA batteries ensuring an autonomy of over eight hours under standard conditions.The Sagem thermal sight weighs 730 grams with the 25mm lens, the 35mm one adding amere 20 grams.
The Sword Light has high commonality level with the Tips (Thermal Imager Pocket Scope), which compared to the sight, has as the same different outputs and storage device (up to 1,000 still images or three hours video) as standard fit, with weight marginally increased by 100 grams.
WILCO Military Night Vision
The Wilco WS937 thermal sight is available with two different levels of definition – standard with a 25 μm-pitch 384 x 288-pixel array, or high with a 17-μmpitch 640 x 480 – sensor.Magnifications lenses of x2, x3 and x4 can be used. The x2 option comes with a 50mm F/1.0 lens providing a 12° x 9° field of view.
A digital zoom increases magnification to x4 and x8. Weight (700 grams) and dimensions (210 x 90 x 65mm) are resolution independent, while two AA lithium batteries ensure eight hours of operation. The image is by courtesy of an 800 x 600 pixels organic diode screen, polarity inversion as well as video output being available as standard.
USB2 output with recording and editing software, Li-Ion battery pack and wireless video transmission are available on request.
SELEX Military Night Vision
Another development aimedat Italy’s Soldato Futuro program, the Aspis is in fact more than amere night sight field as it has day and night capacity and a Bluetooth connection to the soldier system.
Based on a 320 x 240 uncooled Sensor working in the 8-12μm band it has a x1 magnificationand provides a 17.9° x 13.5° field of view. The colour TV sensor also providing a x1 magnification and an 8.8° x 6.6° field of view, images being shown on an 800 x 600-pixel color display.
The Aspis is 293mm long, 71mm wide and 133 mm high, and weighs 1,166 grams including AA batteries. Primarily developed for performance the system has been produced in small quantities for testing.
Considered too heavy and cumbersome though, the Army moved away from a fully integrated system to an interim modular device. As a result Selex started the development of a thermal-only sight based on a 17μm-pitch uncooled 640 x 480 focal plane array.
A x1 magnification sight or hand-held scope, it features a x4 digital zoom and is powered by two CR123 batteries ensuring an autonomy of over four hours under standard conditions.
Currently defined as the Mini Sight AC 640, its images are reproduced on a 800 x 600 organic diode displaywith proximity sensors that switches the screen off when the soldier is not looking into it, making the unit less conspicuous.
The 350-gram unit has image recording capability and a bluetooth connection to send images toother displays, a C2 set up, or to higher echelons. Selex ES planning to produce the first items in late 2014, and deliver to the Italian Army for testing in early 2015.
PCO Military Night Vision
In the Polish PCO portfolio SCT Rubin is the thermal sight dedicated to the infantry soldier. First deliveries to the Polish Army were made in 2013 and rushed to Afghanistan to improve night vision performance downrange. Based on an uncooled microbolometer 8-12μm band 288 x 384-pixelmatrix and with its x1 sight providing a 7.5° x 5.5° field of view, it features a x2 electronic zoom (human identification distance is given as 1.2km).
The image is shown on an 800 x 600 display, the sight having a PAL768 x 576 video output and an RS 485 data interface. The Rubin can be equipped with a helmet display that provides the soldier with look/shoot around-the-corner capability, but canal so be used to show him other data (power being drawnfromthe sight, that display weighs less than 300 grams).
The sight istself is 300mm long, 85mm wide and 110mm high, and weighs less than 1.3 kilos with its six batteries. These can be either NiCd 1.2V AA or standard non-rechargeable AA batteries to provide 12 hours of continuous operation. A slightly smaller derivative of the SCT Rubin running on a new software has been retained by the Polish Army for its Tytan soldier modernization program.
THERMAL VISION TECHNOLOGIES Military Night Vision
Thermal Vision Technologies of the Ukraine has a comprehensive catalogue of thermal imaging systems, all based on Flir sensors, the Kiev-based company proposing its products with various options to suit different cost levels.
Successor of the TSA-5, the Archer TSA-9 is available with different optics, the lighter version being the TSA-9/55 equipped with a 55mm focal length and 1.0 aperture lens, which tips the scales at 950 grams batteries included.
The field of view depends onthe sensor: 6.0° x 4.8° when a 336 х 256 uncooled vanadium-oxyde focal plane array isused, or increasing to 11° x 9.0°with a 640 х 512 pixels matrix. Inboth cases sensors have a 17μm pitch and work in the 7,5-13,5μm frequency band.
The TSA-9 sights are all x1 magnification but are equipped with x2 and x4 digital zoom and feature different colour palettes to improve image quality, the image appearing on an 800 x 600 organic diode colour display. The sight allows detection of a human sized target at 1,700 metres, recognition at 400 metres and identification at 200 meters.
Up to 20 different reticles can be memorised, with the possibility of editing and uploading new ones (for example reticles with automatic reverse contrast to optimise colour against the landscape). A built-in recording module allows to save still images and videos in PAL or NTSC standards, which are then transferred either by cable via a USB port, or wireless with a WiFi connection.
The Archer TSA-9/55 is 270mm long, 68mm wide and 78mm high, and its body is waterproof to IP67 standards. It is powered by six AA batteries contained in a battery pack for quick replacement, ensuring an operational lifeof 8-10 hours under standard conditions.
OPTICO ELECTRON Military Night Vision
In the thermal sight field Opticoelectron of Bulgaria developed the Terecon TS 50, a system designed to be used on weapons ranging from assault rifles to heavy machine guns. It is based on an uncooled 7.5 – 13.5μm spectral band, 17μm pixel pitch 336 × 256 VOx microbolometer. Coupled to the 50mm F/1.2 lens, this x1 sight gives a 6.5° x 5° field of view, a x2 digital zoom being available.
The image is shown on an 800 x 600-pixel colour SVGA display; image processing includes image optimization and digital detail enhancement, the soldier being able to switch polarity, black-hot or white-hot, as well as to chose colour and monochrome palettes.
According to Opticoelectron detection, recognition and identification ranges are of 1,500/380/190 metres for a 1.8 x 0.5 metres human target and 3,900/1,060/540metres for a 2.3 x 2.3 metres vehicle. The Terecon TS 50 weighs 860 grams without four AA batteries that ensure six hours of operation.
MEPROLIGHT Military Night Vision
In Israel, Meprolight’s proposal to the basic soldier in terms of thermal sight is the Noa Nyx 2x, the smaller of the Noa Nyx family, which uses the same 384×288 uncooled microbolometer working in the 8-12 μm spectrum with a 25 μm pixel pitch as the 3x version.
The sights have different optic, the smaller having a x1.6 magnification and a 15.6° x 11.7° field of view. x2 or x4 digital zooms are available, the image being shown on a 768×576 organic diode Super VGA display with an eye relief of 45 mm.
Meprolight declares a maximum range of 900 metres at which the Noa Nyx 2x can detect human activity. A CCIR video output is available for recording the images or transferring them to a secondary display, i.e. a head-mounted display.
Standard power is providedby four AA batteries, either Lithium or rechargeable, but external power sources from 9 to 31 V DC can be used. Lithium batteries provide up to seven hours of operation at 20°C. Without batteries the Noa Nyx 2x weighs less than one kilo, for a length of 258mm long over awidth of 76mm wide and height of 98mm.
While the 2x is better suited for the average soldier, the Noa Nyx 3x provides a x2.7 magnification that can improve sighting at medium range, reducing the field of view to 9.14° x 6.86° while length is increased to 275mm and weight to 1.2 kg without batteries.
Clip-on Thermal Sights
Turning to clip-on thermal sights, one major American programme is that of the US Marine Corps called the STS (Squad Thermal Sight). The Corps requires a system that shall be usable both as a clip-onweapon sight and as a stand-alone hand-held thermal scope.
It is to include an integrated, near-infrared laser pointer and be compatible and interoperable with the ANPVQ-31A/B Rifle Combat Optic, Trijicon ACOG 4×32, compatible and interoperable with other day optics such as the SU-258/PVQ (ACOG 3.5×35) or SU-260/P (ACOG 6×48) currently in use.
FLIR Military Night Vision
Thermal vision being Flir’s bread and butter, the company proposes a family of clip-on sights with different cost and performance levels to suit all customers needs. The basic level system is the Thermosight T50, which is based on a 320 x 240 Vanadium Oxyde uncooled microbolometer working inthe7.5-13.5 μmband.
The optic provides a 9.33° x 7° field of view, the image being shown on a VGA monochrome display, an RS170 video output allowing to send it to other displays.
The sight features automatic contrast and brightness, auto and manual gain, manual non uniformity compensation, and manual polarity shifting and x2 and x4 digital zoom modes. With cover, Picatinny mount and the three CR123, which provide nine hours of continuous operation, the T50 weighs 680 grams for a size of 135 x 89 x 102mm. A laser 850nm laser pointer with a 0.5mW output is integrated into the T50, which is compatible with day optics up to x4 magnification.
A version featuring a 640 x 480-pixel microbolometer is also available and is known as the T65. The most recent addition to the family is the T70, using a 640 x 512 uncooled microbolometer sensor array with 17 μm pitch. The T70 is fitted with an adjustable magnification system proving three different fields of view, namely x0.5 with an 18.8° x 15° FoV, x1 with a 9.4° x 7.5° FoV, and x2 with a 4.7° x 3.75°.
The sight is equipped with a small remote thumb operated joystick to control all functions, such as palette, polarity, zoom, digital detail enhancement, brightness, contrast, windage, elevation and menu options, without the hand needing to leave the firing position.
The image captured is shown on a monochrome display and can be exported via NTSC or PAL video output. Designed to operate from – 40°C up to +45°C, the T70 can be immersed in freshwater down sixmetres for six hours, or in sea water down to 20 metres for two hours.
Compatible with most optical sights, it is 173mm long, 86mm wide and 81mm high, and weighs 680 grams with mount and batteries. Power is provided by two or three AA lithium or alkaline batteries or by one or two CR123 batteries, three AA ensuring about six hours operational time, the sight being already designed for power rail compatibility.
Flir also developed the T-130D, which has both thermal imaging and image intensification channels, the latter using the latest Gen-3 thin-film ANVIS tube. However as the “acronym” for aviator’s night vision implies this is a high-end systemthat exceeds the scope of this Compendium.
L-3 Military Night Vision
L-3 Warrior Systems on the other hand developed a clip-on version of its Light Weapon Thermal Sight known as AN/PAS-13G (V)1 that can also be used as a standalone sight, as it features four integrated ballistic reticles, that can be bore sighted to better than 1MOA.
It is based on a Ultra VOx 640 x 480 uncooled micro bolometer with a 17μm pitch combinedwith a high resolution display, and allows to export RS-170 realtime video for remote viewing.
It is designed to be used in conjunction with Trijicon Advanced Combat Optical Gunsights and Aimpoint M68 Close Combat Optics sights. The company also has in inventory the SU-232/PAS (CNVD-T), available in 12° and 20° field-of-view versions.
RAYTHEON Military Night Vision
Raytheon recently introduced a clip-on thermal sight that is available with two sensors, a 640 x 480 one providing an 18° x 13.5° field of view, and a 320 x 240 with half the field of view, but both have a 25μm pitch. Weight and dimensions remain the same, 0.86 kg without batteries and 183 x 109 x 94mm.
Four L91 AA lithium batteries give 7-12 hours of operating time with one battery pack change. Detection of a human size target is ensured at 1.1 km.
NIVISYS Military Night Vision
In the clip-on thermal sights world Nivisys offers the Utac (Universal Thermal Acquisition Clip-on) series, again a modular system that is based on the same concept adopted for the Taws sights series mentioned earlier.
The three sensors remain the same as well as the 35 and 60mm optics, a 19mm F/1.25 optic being provided for the Utac-16, while a 25mm F/1.1 is added for the Utac-64, both indicated by the “S” suffix, the 100mm lens being not used.
Most characteristics remain the same as the Taws sights; all Utacs have a x1 magnification and a digital zoom. Looking into details, the Utacs-16cS and – 16iS are provided with the 19 mm lens and the lower definition sensor, with a 12° x 9° field of view and 311/595 metre ranges against man/vehicle targets. Its weight is of 487 grams with batteries, the same of the Taws, dimensions being 145 x 66 x 68 mm.
The Utac-32 is provided with 35 or 60mm lenses (Utac-32M and Utac-32L) with respective fields of view of 13° x 10° and 8° x 6°, and ranges of 719/1,368 and 1,138/1,950 metres. Respective weights are 568 and 686 grams, while dimensions are 169 x 66 x 68mm and 190 x 75 x 72mm.
Those physical figures remain identical also for the -64M and -64L, as they use the same lenses. The 17μm 640 x 480 array provides however a wider field of view, respectively 18° x 13° and 10° x 8°, with 883/1,679 and 1,454/2, 756 metres detection ranges; these are identical to the -32M and -32L equipped with a 17μm pitch sensor, these having however a halved field of view.
The lighter member of the UTAC-64 family is the “S”, fitted with the already mentioned 25 mm F/1.1 lens, that provides maximum field of view, 25° x 18°, and 709/1,212 metres detection ranges. All Utac family sights can be used not only as clip-on sights but also as hand-held observation devices and can be immersed down to 20 meters.
To meet the US Marine Corps Squad Thermal Sight requirement for a squad leader thermal viewing capability, Nivisys is developing a variant of the Taws equipped with a 30mm or 20mm lens, and fitted with a laser pointer as required. They will feature a 640 x 480 sensor, a 12 μm pitch sensor being also envisaged to improve performance over 17μm.
AIRBUS DS OPTRONICS Military Night Vision
In Europe, Airbus DS Optronics developed the IRV 600, which is the medium-range thermal clip-on system selected for the German IdZ-ES (Infanterist der Zukunft – Erweiterte System) soldier modernisation programme and to be installed on assault rifles, lightweight machine guns and sniper weapons. It is therefore a relatively high end system, and was included here as it is part of a programme aimed at the infantry firing team.
With a x1 magnification, it features a 640×480 pixel uncooled focal plane array working in the 8 – 14 μm band and, when coupled to the Zeiss Optics 4×30 sight (the standard with IdZ-ES soldiers), it provides a recognition range of a human being at some 480 meters.
The IRV600 features a 43.5mm front lens and provides the shooter with an 8° x 6° field of view, in other words a width coverage of some 140 metres at a range of one kilometer.
Relatively compact (170mmlong, 132.5 mm high and 86 mm wide), it weighs 1,090 grams with Picatinny mount and batteries, the latter being four CR123 lithium providing over four hours of service life at 20°C. The IRV 600 features PAL, FBAS and composite video output.
The mix between image intensifiers (the NVS 600 seen earlier) and thermal imaging systems among the IdZ-ES kits has not been specified by the German Army, but both have proved their worth in Afghanistan. What is known though is that the global order included fewer IRV 600s than NSV 600s. Airbus DS Optronics declined to provide details on possible export customers.
ELBIT Military Night Vision
Elbit’s family of Coyote clip-on thermal sights can answer the specific needs of soldiers employed in different roles, but all based on uncooled microbolometers working in the 7-14μm band.
In the two systems dedicated to assault rifles, the Coyote-20 and Coyote-45, Elbit Systems proposes a cheaper solution equipped with a 384 x 280 detector with a 25μm-pixel pitch, however if better performances are required a higher level solution is available in the form of a 640 x 480 matrix sensor with the same pitch and – if top quality is a must a similar matrix with a 17μm pitch can also be had.
Both feature x2 and x4 electronic zoom. An 800×600-pixel screen is used to show the image to the shooter, and a PAL/NTSC video output is available. Four CR123 batteries give eighthours of operation at standard temperature. The minimal weight difference between the Coyote-20 and the Coyote-45, 640 grams versus 680 grams, is only due to the different lens.
THERMAL VISION TECHNOLOGIES Military Night Vision
The Archer TCN-2 is the proposal of Ukrainian Thermal Vision Technologies in the clip-on field. A thermal system that can be provided with a 336 х 256 or a 640 х 512 pixel uncooled vanadium-oxyde focal plane array, with respective fields of view of 6.0° x 4.8° or 11° x 9.0°, it is fitted with a 55mm focal length and 1.0 aperture lens. As most systems of this company, it features a x2 and x4 digital zoom.
The four AA batteries pack ensures respectively 6-8 hours or 8-10 hours of operation depending on the sensor. With batteries the ArcherTCN-2 weighs 0.97 kg, a remote control being available to operate the sight while remaining in shooting position. PAL or NTSC video can be exported either via USB or WiFi.
A compact system, 137 x 91 x 115mm, this clip-on sight can be used on assault rifles, however designers aimed at a multirole sight this it can also withstand the shock of .338 Lapua Magnum rifles or that of 12.7mm rifles and machine guns.
Multi-role Thermal Monoculars
As in the image intensification world, the thermal variety has its monoculars. In fact there are quite a few, able to fill a number of roles and meet different pocket depths.
L3 Warrior Systems developed the Mini Thermal Monocular (MTM), a x1 magnification system featuring an integrated infrared or visible spectrum laser. It features a 320×240 Vanadium Oxide uncooledmicrobolometer detectorwith a 25μm-pixel pitch, the image being shown on a 640 × 480 active display. Coupled to the 19mm lens it provides a 23.4° x 17.6° field of view, and is equipped with a x2 digital zoom.
The soldier can chose white-hot or black-hot polarities, export the image in analog RS-170 format, and store up to 160 images that are then transferred via a USB port. At only 326 grams, it is 127mm long, 71mm wide and 56mm high. The MTMallows to identify amansize target at 400 meters (500 if moving), facial identification range being of 25 meters.
A x3 additional lens is available to increase range. Powered by two DL123 lithium batteries, it has a three-hour endurance. It can be fitted with a helmet mount, transforming it in a single-tube scope. The MTM-PI, where the suffix stands for product improvement, features a 640 x 480 focal plane array sensor with a 17μm pitch that provides a much better image quality.
NIVISYS Military Night Vision
Leveraging expertise acquired with the development of its lenses and of the modular approach adopted for its thermal sights and clip-on sights, Nivisys developed the Utam (Universal Thermal Acquisition Monocular) family, which maintains the same features of the above-mentioned Taws and Utac series.
The Utam-16 is provided with a 19mm lens, Utam-32S, Mand L being fitted respectively with 19, 35 and 60mm lenses, while the Utam-6r is available only in the M version with the 35 mm lens. Performances are similar to those of their equivalent Utac systems, while weight and dimensions are slightly reduced.
BAE SYSTEMS OASYS Military Night Vision
BAE Systems Oasys, based in America, is active in the thermal imaging business.Thus far 90%of its sales were in the United States, but the companyhas startedamore aggressive campaign on the international market.
Its portfolio includes one of the smaller clip-on sights in its category, the Skeetir X: at only 260 grams without the single CR123 lithium battery (it can also be powered via a USB port), this sight that can be used both as a stand-alone or as a clip-on is only 102 mm long, 44mm high and 61mm wide.
A x1 magnification sight with a 28° diagonal field of view, it x0.5 and x2 digital zoom modes. Its uncooled sensor is a 8-12 μm band 640 x 480 focal plane array with a 17 μm-pixel pitch. It is equippedwith a 800 x 600 monochrome display and an RS170 video output.
When used as a stand-alone sight the soldier can select a series of different electronic reticles that are projected on the display; reticles can be disabled when the Skeetir X isused as a clip-on system coupled to another sight, the BAE Systems product being apt for coupling with scopes up to x5 magnification.
Capable to operate from –40°C up to +60°C, its endurance at 25°C and 60Hz refresh rate is of twohours.The SkeetirX is submersible and has been tested at depths of more than 10 metres for two hours.
A further series of features makes the Skeetir X a system on its own in the super-light thermal sight category: not only does it have a first-class sensor, but it also contains a digital compass, an image storage capacity of up to 100 snapshots in 8-bit uncompressed bmp format, as well as a laser pointer.
The latter can either be a Class 3R visible red pointer with an output power of 4.7mW working in the 625-645 nm band, or a Class 1 820-850nm band with a 0.7mW output. Four push buttons on the top of the Skeetir X allow to set the sight. Combat proven, it has been selected by the America Special Operations Command as it can be used in weapon clipon, handheld, and helmet mount modes.
BAE Systems Oasys also proposes the Universal Thermal Monocular which has twice the weight of the Skeetir X. Most characteristics are otherwise similar to those of the smaller sight, although its field of view is of 19° and it can operate with two CR123 lithium batteries for 5.5 hours at 25°C, and its laser pointers aremore powerful.
Both in the 3B Class, the visible one ouputs 35 mW while the infrared pointer has two levels, 0.7mW (same as the Skeetir X) and 35mW with considerabe range increase.
NEWCON-OPTIK Military Night Vision
Another multirole option in the Newcon-Optik catalogue is the TVS 11, a thermal monocular that can be used either as a helmet-mounted system, a thermal sight on a light weapon, or a hand-held observation device, the latter option being the most usually adopted. With a weight including batteries of only 396 grams, it is powered by two CR123s providing an eight hour operational life.
The TVS 11 is available with two levels of thermal uncooled 7-14μm band sensors – either a 384 x 288-pixel or a 640 x 480-pixel array, respectivel ywith 16° x 12° or a 17° x 14° fields of view.
According to data provided by the Canadian manufacturer a human-sized target can be detected at 1,200 metres, recognised at 300 metres and identified at 150. x2 and x4 digital zooms are available, as well as PAL or NTSC outputs. The TVS 11 is 130mm long, 80mm wide and 60mm high. Considered to be one of the most versatile products of the entire catalogue, the TVS 11 has been exported in every geographic market attained by the company.
PYSER-SGI Military Night Vision
In parallel with the development work done on the PNP-MTHDS thermal sight, Pyser-SGI of the United Kingdom developed the PNP-MTHD multirole monocular, which maintains most of the optronic characteristics of the weapon sight. It features the same sensor and display,but in an effort to save weight lacks the reticle and its associated commands. The lightest type is the 17 mm lens system at 295 grams without batteries followed by the 25 and 35mm variants at respectively 325 and 340 grams.
Fitted a flip-up/switch-off device and with x2 and x4 electronic zoom, detection ranges for the three lenses are respectively 445, 635 and 889 metres without using the digital zoom.
A x3 magnification additonal lens is available to further increase the range, mostly when used as a hand-held observation/surveillance item. Typical head- or helmet-mounted use sees the 17mm lens with x1 magnification as the preferred option, the 98 mm length and the rear centre of gravity allowing to decrease neck strain.
WILCO Military Night Vision
Wilco of France proposes a thermal monocular with an unconventional parallelepiped shape. The military version, known as Timro 640-M, is fitted with a 640 x 480-pixel array and a 19 mm F/1.25 lens, providing a 32° x 26° field of view.
A x1 magnification system, it features x2, x3, x4 and x8 electronic zoom. It can memorize up to six different ballistic tables to be exploited when used as a sight, but a Picatinny adapter is available.
Its titanium body makes it particularly lightweight, 220 grams with the two CR123 batteries; of reduced dimensions, 65 x 48 x 70.5mm, the Timro 640-Mensures human detection at 200 metres and can be equipped with numerous optional modules such as a secondary screen to see or shoot around the corner.
SHVABE Military Night Vision
The PT2 thermal imaging monocular developed by Shvabe of Russia is proposed as a stand-alone device or as a head-mounted system. It features a 384 x 288-pixel uncooled focal plane array and a 24 mm focal length objective providing a 22.6° x 17° field of view, a x 2 digital zoom being available.
The PT2 ensures man-size target recognition at 500 metres and is powered by two CR123A batteries giving four hours of operation. Without the head mount the PT2 weighs 390 grams, and is 120 mm long, 75mm wide and 52 mm high. For hand-held observation the lens can be replaced with a more powerful x3.8.
THERMAL VISION TECHNOLOGIES Military Night Vision
Thermal Vision Technologies of the Ukraine produces two thermal imaging monoculars, the Archer TMA-35, which features a 35mm focal length lens with a 1.2 aperture, and the TMA-55, with a 55 mm F/1.0 lens.
Cost, weight and performances are clearly different with sensor type mostly accounting for the cost variation as both monoculars are available with three different arrays, namely a 25μm-pitch 324 x 256-pixel array on the one hand, and two 17μm-pitch arrays of either 336 x 256 or 640 x 512 pixels at on the other.
This enables the company to offer thermal scopes across a wide range of prices and performances. The system with the shorter focal length lens has obviously a wider field of view, but one that varies with the sensor, respectively 13° x 10°, 9.5° x 7° or 18° x 14°.
With the 17μm pitch the TMA-35 allows one to detect amanat 1,100metres, recognise himat 280 metres and identify himat 140. In the TMA those data vary, fields of view being 8.3° x 6.4°, 6.0° x 4.7° or 11.4° x 8.8°, a penalty well compensated by increased ranges, respectively 1,700 metres for detection, 400 metres for recognition and 200 metres for identification, an improvement of over 40%.
The weight penalty follows performance improvement, the TMA-35 weighing 350 grams without the two CR123A batteries, while the Archer TMA-55 hits the 500-gram mark. Respective dimensions are 139 x 74 x 51mm or 160 x 82 x 70mm.
As for all of the company thermal imagers, these monoculars can export a PAL or NTSC video signal, however only via a USB port. They can be used either hand held or helmet mounted.
Surveillance Binoculars and Scopes
Generally lighter units intended for those members of an army that are not equipped with full-fledged thermal systems, those scopes are ideal for commanders.
Flir Systems proposes two light and small thermal imaging pocket scopes. The Recon M24 adds only 400 grams to the soldier’s burden including the two 3VCR123 batteries that provide a working time of over three hours at standard temperature.
A noteworthy point is that removing one of the two batteries does not affect operation,which means that they can be replaced without viewer shut-down. The Recon M24 is provided with a 320 x 240 uncooled focal plane array, a 640 x 480 typebeing available on request.
The optics provide a 24° x 18° field of view at x1 magnification, while x2 and x4 are digital. The display is a 640 x 480 monochrome unit, a USB port is used to export stills and RS-170 or PAL outputs for video. Handheld or tripod mounted, it can be carried in a pocket thanks to its small size, the Recon M24 being 117mmlong, 76mm high and 64mm wide.
The second model is the Recon M18, which comes with the higher definition sensor as standard fit (though the lower one is available on request). Field of view is 18.7° x 14°, andhere too two levels of digital zoom, x2 and x4 being available although a x3 extender lens is also proposed.
The image is displayed on a 640 x 480 colour organic diode display, and a set of image enhancing features being available, including automatic level and gain control, manual control, polarity shift, as well as sharpening, tuning and contrast enhancement. An NTSC or PAL video output is available.
The M18 features a 30 mW/0.5 mW infrared laser pointer, but a visible frequency option is available. Power source remains that of the M24, with same battery life. All this comes at only 80 grams more, dimensions being also marginally higher at 127 x 83 x 57mm. The M24 can be immersed at 12.6metres for one hour.
DRS Military Night Vision
DRS Technologies’ portfolio includes the MX-2A lightweight thermal camera weighing less than 1.25kg and suited for reconnaissance and surveillance during patrol missions.
It features a 320 x 240 focal plane array based on a Vanadium Oxide uncooled microbolometer with a pixel pitch of 25μm working in the 8-12μm band, that ensures detection of human activity at 550 metres in clear weather with a 70% probability. The field of viewis of 18° x 13.5°, which halves when the x2 digital zoom function is activated.
A monochrome black and-white 640 x 480 display provides the image to the soldier, which can be white-hot or black-hot, and exported via an RS-170 video output; four push buttons on the top of the units select gain, brightness and polarity.
The camera runs on four 123 batteries. A rugged item thanks to its rubber-coated aluminium case, the MX-2A is 229 mm long, 125 mm wide and 86 mm high. The MX-2A includes the same reticles as the LTWS sight, it can thus be also used as a sight using a dedicated interface. A higher end thermal camera, the MX-3A, is also available based on a 640 x 480 array. It has a x3 zoom, a 1,100-metre detection range and weighs nearly 1.5 kg.
BAE SYSTEMS OASYS Military Night Vision
At only 1.06 kg without batteries the BAE Systems Oasys offers the infantry team commander a Universal Thermal Binocular based on the company’s 17-μm pitch 640 x 480-pixel uncooled focal plane array.
Also known as the UTB, it can be fitted with three different magnification optics, namely standard x3.7 with a 10.5° diagonal field of view and a 2.22 kmdetection range, short-range x2.1 with 19° FoV and one kilometre detection range, and long-range 6.5° FoV and 2.66 km detection range.
A x2 electronic zoomis also available. Powered by three CR123 or two L91 lithium batteries ensuring respectively 5.5 hours or 2.25 hours ofoperation, the binocular maintains mos tof the characteristics of BAE Systems’ thermal sights, such as digital magnetic compass as well as visible and infrared laser pointers, in Class 3B, respectively with outputs of 20-35mW for training and0.5-0.7mW for training and 20-35mW for operations.
The UTB can store up to 100 uncompressed images in bmp format. A version including a laser rangefinder is also available, the UTB LRF, which maintains the same width, 140 mm, and height, 74mm, but is slightly longer (206mm versus 178 mm) and heavier (1.38 kg), optronic performances remaining identical.
SAGEM Military Night Vision
Sagem’s Jim MR (MR for Medium Range) was chosen by the French Army for its Félin programme. In less than two kilos Sagem packed an uncooled thermal imager providing a 7.6 x 5.7° field of view, and fitted with x2 and x4 digital zooms.
Indicative designation, recognition, identification ranges are given as 4,000/1,500/750 metres for a vehicle target and 2,450/850/400metres for a human target. An 10 km range eye safe 1.54μm laser rangefinder is available, as well as a digital magnetic compass with 360° azimuth range and ±40° elevation range.
The Jim MR does not feature an internal GPS, but can be connected to an external one thanks to its analog and digital input-output ports to providing target grids. It is powered by a dedicated battery that provides over three hours of autonomy, but is compatible with AA batteries and can also be linked to an external power source.
The Felin soldier can also be equipped with the long-range JIM LR, which is a binocular with a 320 x 240-pixel cooled sensor operating in the 3-5μm band and weighing 2.8 kg without batteries. A high end system, it has a visible colour channel with a 3° x 2.25° field of view, the same as the thermal channel in the narrow field of view mode, the wide one being of 9° x 6.75°.
The JIM LR is provided with stabilisation, digital zoom, image fusion, contrast enhancement, photo and video recording, and includes a 10 km range laser rangefinder, a laser pointer, a digital magnetic compass and a GPS. Over 3,000 Jim LR have been produced.
A simpler version, known as the Jim Observe, includes only the thermal and day channels, and weighs 2.5kg. Recently Sagem developed the JimUC, for uncooled, which retains all the features of the Jim LR but is fitted with a 640×480-pixel uncooled thermal sensor.
In the narrow field of view it provides the same 3° x 2.25° as the day channel, while in the wide one it provides an 8.6° x 6.45° field of view. Giving away the cooling system allowed to cut weight down to 2.3 kg. Indicative DRI ranges for the Jim UC are 5/2/1km for a vehicle target and 3/1/0.5 km for a human target.
THALES Military Night Vision
Unveiled at DSEI 2013, the Sophie Lite is the latest member of Thales Sophie family of multifunction surveillance and target locator systems, its weight being of only 1.6 kg.
The Sophie Lite includes a 640 x 480-pixel uncooled thermal imager working in the 8-12μm which provides a field of view of 7° and features a x3 e-zoom. In thermal imaging mode a man target can be detected at 2.5 km and a recognised at 1km, while ranges for a vehicle are respectively 5 and 2 km.
The day channel is based on a TV/Near-infrared sensor and has two fields of view, 6° and 3°; it features image stabilisation, autofocus and ezoom, and provides detection and recognition of a man-size target at 6 and 3 km, and of a vehicle at 10 and 6km. It uses a 800 x 600 pixel display.
Target range is provided by a Class 1 laser rangefinder with maximum range of 4 km and five-metre accuracy. Position is provided by the internal GPS; standard issue is a C/A code system, a P(Y)code system being provided as option.
An external AN/PSN-13 Defense Advanced GPS Receiver or an AN/PSN-11 Precision Lightweight GPS Receiver (better known as Dagger and Plugger) canbe attached to the SophieLite. Orientation is ensured by a 0.5° accuracy digital magnetic compass and a 0.1° accuracy gravity sensor inclinometer.
The Sophie Lite is powered by AA batteries, their life being respectively of six hours when using the system in TV mode and four hours in thermal imaging mode; external BB2590 or BB2557 rechargeable batteries can be used, their operational life being respectively of 48 or 24 hours, depending on mission profile.
An internal memory allows to save up to 100 stills or one hour worth of video, external interfaces available being PWR, RS232/422, Ethernet and USB. According to Thales the Sophie Lite performances are reduced by 20% compared to high end Sophie family elements, but with a weight gain in excess of 50%.
Fully developed and available for production, the Sophie Lite was developed on company funds and although it has not yet found a launch customer, Thales says that multiple opportunities in the world market are arising, in particular amongst the infantry, special operators and homeland security circles.
SELEX Military Night Vision
Soldato Futuro infantry team leaders of the Italian Army units are to receive the Linx, the multi-functional day/night handheld target locator developed and produced by SelexES.
Its thermal channel has recently been improved with a better sensor, now a 640 x 480 uncooled array (the original Soldato Futuro Linx had a 320 x 240 sensor). Coupled with the adopted lens, it provides a x2.8 magnification and a 10° x 7.5° field of view, a x2 and x4 digital zoom being available.
The colour TV day channel channel maintains a wide with a x3.65 magnification and a FoV of 8.6° x 6.5° and a narrow FoV with a x11.75 magnification and an angle of 2.7° x 2.2°. The Linx also features a 1.55μm laser rangefinder, the latest version of which has been improved to over three kilometres, and a digital magnetic compass and a GPS.
A near infrared laser pointer, which can be seen through the daylight channel, has also been added. All vision channels are fitted with an electronically programmable reticle. Video output is colour VGA, exportable via USB.
Including the AA batteries the Linx now weighs 2.7 kg. According to data provided by Selex ES, it ensures a detection range of around 1.5km and a recognition range of 650 metres for a human target, these data increasing to 2.8 kmand 1.3 kmfor a heavy vehicle.
Selex ES is also looking at a further evolutionswith the adoption of miniaturised cooled sensors, while the additional functions are being discussed with the Esercito. The first upgraded systemis expected formid-2015.
MILLOG Military Night Vision
Having chalked up its last order from the Finnish Defence Forces as recently as May 2014, the Millog Lisa is a hand-held target acquisition system packs an uncooled thermal imager, an optical day channel, an eye safe laser rangefinder with over 6 km range, a digital magnetic compass and a GPS with wireless connection.
It can detect a vehicle at 4.8 km, recognise it at 1.35km and identify it at 1 km, data for a human target being 2.9 km, 700 metres and 550 metres. The Lisa has a weight of 2.4 kg including the batteries, which give an endurance of more than 10 hours.
VECTRONIX Military Night Vision
Amongst the lightest systems that can be supplied to a patrol commander is the Vectronix Moskito. This is an image intensifier binocular that includes a day optical channel with a x5 magnification and a 6° field of view, with mil graduation.
The night channel is based on a Photonis XR5 tube with a x3 magnification and a 10° field of view, which, witha four-kilometre range laser rangefinder, a digital magnetic compass and a clinometer for horizontal and vertical angles measurement, and GPS, weighs a mere 1.2kg.
The Moskito is powered by 2 CR123A lithium batteries ensuring over 24 hours of autonomy and more than 2,000 measurements. It is used by different types of units in many armies.
THERMAL VISION TECHNOLOGIES Military Night Vision
For lower-level commanders, Ukrainian Thermal Vision Technologies proposes a series of observation goggles, the Archer TGA-8/75M being the latestof the family. It is provided with either a 336х256 or a 640х512-pixel uncooled sensor, which coupled with the 75mm F/1.0 germanium lens gives a field of view of 4.4° x 3.4° or 8.3° x 6.4° (to which x2 and x4 digital zooms are added).
A 1.55μm laser rangefinder with a maximum measurement range of 1.5 km is integrated into the system, which can also be equipped with a photo and video recording module. Detection, recognition and identification ranges are respectively of 2,200, 600 and 300 meters.
The Archer TGA-8/75M is powered by four AA batteries that provide eight hours of autonomy with rechargeable batteries and ten hours with standard ones. The dimensions of this binocular, which weighs 1.2 kg with batteries, are 190 x 146 x 90 mm. A version with a 55mm lens is also available, with the overall weight decreased to about 660 grams.
ELBIT Military Night Vision
Low weight and relatively low cost for what it offers, the Elbit Systems Mini Coral thermal imager incorporates all what is needed for target acquisition – in extenso GPS, day and night channels, laser range finder and a compass. The uncooled 8-12 μm 384 x 288 Vanadium Oxide sensor offers 6° x 4.5° and 18° x 13.5° channels.
Two daytime channels are also available, one with a 12.6°x9.5° field of view from a monochrome high-resolution CCD sensor with laser pointer see-spot capability, and the other with a 3° x 2.25° field of view with colour high-resolution CCD.
Range to target is providedby a 1.55μm Class 1m laser rangefinder with a maximum range of 2,500 metres, bearing being given by the digital magnetic compass which has a 0.5° RMS accuracy. Position is being given by an internalGPS, theMiniCoral having a seven hour video recording capacity.
The system’s memory can store not only target grids, but also targets images, and can be interfaced to a battle management system. Battery life is eight hours, and weight with battery remains under 2.1 kg. According to Elbit the Mini Coral is capable to detect a vehicle at 3.5km and a man at two, recognition ranges being respectively 1.5 km and 800 meters.
Fused Goggles and Thermal Clip-on
Still a pretty high-end solution due to costs, fused goggles are nevertheless becoming a reality, and the US Army is equipping part of itsmilitary not onlywith a thermal system, but with a fused one, that includes both image intensification and thermal imaging sensors.
American soldiers started receiving the AN/PSQ-20, also known as Enhanced Night Vision Goggle, around mid-2009, the system having been developed by Exelis (part of ITT) and Raytheon, but produced by Exelis.
This monocular combines both a latest generationtanda 320X 240 microbolometer thermal sensor, and offers the soldier the ability to set the fusion level via optical overlay between the two vision modes and thereby optimise reading according to situation. A x1 magnification system, it provides a 38° field of view in intensified mode and a 28° in thermal mode. Four AA batteries ensure 7.5 hours of continuous operation using both sensors.
EXELIS Military Night Vision
Exelis has since launched the AN/PSQ-20A. This improved version also known as the Sengv (Spiral Enhanced NVG) which uses only three batteries, it has a reduced life cycle cost, a better weight balance, and boasts significant improvements in producibility. In 2012 L-3 Warrior Systems was awarded a $50 million contract for over 3,800 Engvs, also known as AN/PSQ-20B in military parlance.
WILCO Military Night Vision
In this emerging field, Wilco of France proposes the TNVM that optically combines images from a Gen-2+ or Gen-3 intensifier tube with that of a nuncooled microbolometer. The latter comes with a choice of two resolutions, namely 160×120(TNVM-A) and 384 x 288 pixels (TNVM-B). The image is thrown onto a 640 x 480-pixel VGA colour display.
A built-in infrared emitter can be used either as a pointer or as an illuminator. A x1 magnification system, the thermal channel also features x2 and x4 digital zooms. The TNVM is powered by four AA batteries that provide 5-7 hours of operational time. The battery pack can either be fixed under the goggle or mounted on the back of the helmet to partly compensate the goggle overhanging weight (the battery pack weighs 250 grams vs. the goggle’s 650 grams).
VECTRONIX Military Night Vision
The Vectronics Tacs-Mis a thermal clip-on device based on an uncooled 320×240 microbolometer the image of which is projected on a micro-display that is mounted in front of the image intensifying tube, thereby adding the thermal image to the intensified one.
The thermal clip-on can work in three modes: full thermal, out line or patrol to ensure a 500-metre detection range and a 300-metre recognition range. The Tacs-M has a x1 magnification and a field of view of 20°, the thermal image being shown in the centre of the intensified image. The Polarity can be switched while brightness is adjustable. Powered by a CR123A lithium battery it has an autonomy of 2.5 hours at 20°C and only add 150 grams to the original intensifier goggle.
THERMOTEKNIX Military Night Vision
In Britain, Thermoteknix developed the ClipIR, another clip-onthermal solution that has the advantage of providing a 40° field of view, matching that of any standard NVG, thus allowing full image coverage. The ClipIR is based on a 384 x 288 amorphous silicon 25 micron uncooled LWIR microbolometer coupled to a 13.2mmF/1.2 lens, the resulting image being projected on an 800×600 display, from which an optical periscope carries it in front of the intensifier tube.
The system is powered by a single AA battery, operating time varying from 4½ hours between 0°C to +50°C to 2½ hours at -40°C. A single wheel on the top of the system allows to control all the functions. The ClipIr weighs 150 grams with battery, and is easily attached to the most common goggles and monoculars with which it is compatible, the PVS-7, PVS-15, PVS-14, MUM-14, PBS-14 and PBS-18, for example.
FLIR Military Night Vision
Flir is proposing the M32-C clip-on thermal imager based on a 320×240 Vox microbolometer offering a 32° field of view. It can bemounted either on the right or left eye, and is provided in two different configurations – with internal or external battery. The former weighs 190 grams without batteries, which become 258 grams when adding the two CR-123 batteries that ensure over three hours of operation.
The latter configuration features a battery pack containing three AAA batteries providing an eight-hour autonomy, the weight being split between the clip-on unit, 164 grams, and the battery pack, 187 grams. Although this results in a slightly higher total weight at 353 grams, it however leads to a smaller clip-on unit, with a better balance and increased operational time.
Military Night Vision Coverage
We did our utmost to cover most of the systems currently being marketed or developed. However, we are perfectly aware that some pieces might have been overlooked, although it must be understood that amongst the items not covered in this Compendium are often rebadged or rebranded versions of existing systems, not to mention reverse engineered models or utter copies often originating from the East and Far-East.