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Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The Enhanced Night Vision Goggle Program

The Enhanced Night Vision Goggle Program

BAE Systems will design and develop a digitally enhanced night-vision goggle as part of the U.S. Army's Enhanced Night Vision Goggle program. This next-generation goggle will use digital imagery to improve soldier mobility and situational awareness under all lighting conditions and in the presence of battlefield obscurants.

The helmet-mounted goggle will digitally combine video imagery from a low-light-level visible sensor and an uncooled long-wave infrared sensor on a single color display located in front of the soldier's eye. This digital technology will provide improved image quality and will enable imagery to be shared among soldiers, improving platoon effectiveness.

The contract is managed by the Program Executive Office Soldier at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

BAE Systems will incorporate its uncooled MicroIR® microbolometer sensor technology in the enhanced goggle. This technology also is used in the thermal weapon sights the company supplies to the Army. BAE Systems has two microbolometer foundries and has delivered more than 50,000 microbolometer-based imagers to date.

Enhanced Night Vision Goggle (ENVG)

The Enhanced Night Vision Goggle (ENVG) will be a helmet-mounted passive device for the individual soldier that incorporates image intensification and long wave infrared sensors for night operations. The ENVG will provide soldiers the ability to engage and execute close combat, combat support, and combat service support operations in all light levels, adverse weather, and battlefield obscurant conditions. The system will be designed for use in conjunction with rifle mounted aiming lights and is the planned successor for the AN/PVS-7 Night Vision Goggles (NVGs) and AN/PVS-14 Monocular Night Vision Device (MNVD).

The ENVG would be fielded to infantry troops, military police, traffic controllers, surveillance units and any force likely to engage in urban combat. The Army is evaluating three ENVG prototypes, each developed by ITT Industries, Northrop Grumman Corp. and Insight Technology Inc.

The ENVG combines traditional night-vision technology, called image intensification, with thermal sensors. Image intensification amplifies non-visible particles of light to a level of brightness that the human eye can detect. A thermal, or infrared, imager senses the temperature differences and warmer items appear brighter on a display. The fusion of both technologies would result in night-vision goggles that merge the strengths of image intensification-a clear, sharp green-tinted picture-with the advantages of infrared-the ability to see practically under any environmental condition. Green is the color that the human eye sees most easily.

One problem noticed in the ENVGs was the poor alignment of the optics, when the thermal images were overlaid with the image-intensification images. The optic assemblies in the prototypes are too heavy. The Army has not yet settled on whether the ENVGs will have a monocular or binocular design. While the standard Army goggles cost about $2,500 a piece, the ENVG will be at least $8,000.

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