Armor: Driving In The Dark To Victory

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November 29, 2011: Only two years after introducing DVE (Driver's Vision Enhancers) a camera based night driving aid for combat vehicles, the U.S. Army is upgrading the popular device with an enhanced version of DVE that widens the view from 40 degrees to 107 degrees, provides a better image and is easier to use.

Two years ago, after a decade of development and wide scale testing, the U.S. Army and Marines decided to buy nearly two billion dollars-worth of DVE. This is an infrared (heat sensing) system that consists of a 2.5 kg (5.5 pound) sensor, and a flat panel display that shows what is in front of the vehicle, despite night, fog, smoke or dust. The army has already bought over 80,000 DVEs in the last seven years, so that the equipment could be used on a wide variety of vehicle and in all possible conditions. The new purchases will equip just about every truck and combat vehicles with DVE. The most common users are combat vehicles (M-1 tanks, M-2s, STRYKER, MRAP, and HMMWVs).

There are actually four different versions. DVE Lite is for trucks that cart troops and supplies around. DVE CV is used by combat vehicles. DVE TWV allows the sensor to be moved around, to search a wider area, and is used by wheeled combat vehicles (Stryker and MRAP). There is also a variation of the DVE TWV, used specifically to detect enemy activity, like someone placing roadside bombs or mines.

The driver uses a flat screen display that is moved down in front of the windshield, like a sun visor, so that he can see through night, fog or even a sand storm. The new enhanced DVE allows the driver to quickly expand the view to include the sides of the road or even to glance at the rear pointing IR camera many vehicles have. The enhanced version puts the viewing controls on the steering wheel, thus eliminating the need to fiddle with camera controls. The main camera is mounted at eye level in front of the windshield, between the two front seats of the vehicle.

DVE enables the army to move more quickly, and safely, in all kinds of atmospheric conditions. This not only speeds up supply and movement (of units) operations, but makes combat units more effective. The enemy can no longer rely on bad visibility to slow down U.S. troops. DVE, and especially the enhanced version, has been enthusiastically received by drivers. Previously, they had to use their night vision goggles, where provide a narrow field of view, and are uncomfortable after being worn for hours.

 


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