Infantry: The Miracle Goggles


September 2, 2009: The U.S. Army has ordered 3,600 of the new version of the ENVG (Enhanced Night Vision Goggle), for about $12,000 each. The new ENVG combines the older light enhancement technology goggles, with a thermal (heat sensing) night sight. This combined sight weights two pounds. The older ENVG (thermal only) weighed 1.9 pounds, while the AN/PVS13 light enhancing device weighed 1.25 pounds (for a total of 2.15 pounds).

The new sight is not only lighter, but more compact and easier to use. It provides a total of 15 hours use (7.5 hours for thermal imaging and the same for light enhancement). In most cases (where there is some star or moon light) the light enhancement sight will do. But where there is no other light (as in a building or cave) the thermal imager works. The thermal imager also works through fog and sand storms.

It was three years ago that field testing of the original ENVG (the AN/PAS13) took place. This device worked with the current AN/PVS-14 night vision goggles (which provide night vision by enhancing available light), but added the capability to use thermal imaging (seeing differences in heat).

For over a decade, thermal imaging equipment was large and bulky and only available in vehicles (M-1 tanks and M-2 Bradleys). But in the last few years, smaller and lighter thermal imagers have come on to the market. The U.S. Army Special Forces has been using these lightweight thermal imagers to great effect.

Field testing of the combined device began earlier this year, and was popular and reliable. The earlier thermal imager was also very popular, but carrying both night sights was not. The army already has nearly 1,200 of the new sights in service. Not all troops will get the more expensive combined sight. They will be issued according to need. If the army can get the money for it, over 30,000 of the new ENVG will be purchased.



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