Last year, we wrote about a new integrated night vision optic system that would allow data from a US Army soldier’s weapon-mounted night vision device to be fed directly to his helmet-mounted night vision monocle. Such a system could be a major step forward in night vision combat optics systems, which are today one of the most important advantages possessed by Western and especially United States infantry. Now, it seems this project has borne fruit: The Army has ordered advanced night vision systems of this variety from DRS Technologies, a US-founded, Italian-owned company making the Enhanced Night Vision Goggle (ENVG) system. The company published a release through its news outlet, DRS News:
ARLINGTON, VA, October 5, 2016 – DRS Technologies Inc., a Leonardo-Finmeccanica Company, announced today it has received an initial production order valued at more than $65 million from the U.S. Army for the Enhanced Night Vision Goggle (ENVG) III program.
The award initiates fielding of next-generation technology that provides soldiers with an information hub through the ENVG display. DRS Technologies partnered with N2 Imaging Systems LLC, a UTC Aerospace Systems Company, on the ENVG program.
The advanced system is designed to provide rapid target acquisition. It then wirelessly sends the weapon imagery from the sight to the night-vision goggle eyepiece. The wireless capability gives the user the ability to increase situation awareness to rapidly engage targets even when protected behind an obstacle.
“This is a very important program for the Army, and we stand ready to provide this incredible technology to our warfighters to ensure they have one more tool on the battlefield to not only keep them safer, but to make sure they are able to complete their mission,” said Shawn Black, VP/General Manager, for one DRS Technologies’ C4ISR business unit.
The production order is the first issued to DRS under an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract worth up to $367 million awarded by the Army to the company in 2015. The third-generation Enhanced Night Vision Goggle vastly improves situational awareness and is expected to change the way ground troops fight.
Following this order, the US Army also awarded DRS and British Aerospace (BAe) a developmental contract worth up to almost a quarter of a billion dollars ($720 million) for new crew served weapons sights using the same technology, according to IHS Jane’s:
The US Army has awarded BAE Systems and DRS Technologies separate seven-year contracts for developing and providing new crew-served weapon sights.
The Family of Weapon Sights – Crew Served (FWS-CS) is a weapon-mounted long-wave infrared sensor intended to deliver imagery, including a reticle bore-sighted to the host weapon, in all battlefield conditions (day, night, or obscured), according to the army. It is to integrate with the M2 .50 calibre machine gun, MK19 grenade machine gun, and M240 medium machine gun.
BAE Systems won up to USD383 million and DRS up to USD337 million for work on the effort, and the deals are to culminate in 2023.
Night vision optics are one of the most powerful force multiplier tools in the US military arsenal. These devices allow troops to operate effectively in darkness, where enemies not equipped with night vision are essentially blind. Even if the enemy does possess night vision, few countries in the world can afford to match the sophistication, range, and power of the night vision systems in use by the US military.