US Army Orders Advanced Night Vision Optics from DRS Technologies

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.



Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • Audie Bakerson

    Wouldn’t this also double as a corner shot?

    • Anonymoose

      I think we came up with this concept like 15 years ago with the Land Warrior system. I remember watching old History Channel stuff back then about how the Army was developing these huge, bulky camera setups and wearable computers connected to M4s and either PASGT or MICH helmets, and a PDA-thing so the NCO could see what his team (and their rifles) were seeing.

      • milesfortis

        “Land Warrior” petered out and morphed into “Ground Soldier System” which also looks to have segued into this latest version.

        • LCON

          The Tech just was not ready then today… hell Today Star Trek the Next Generation is obsolete at least in personal electronics. by the next decade our troops will get a single day and night optic that will aim the rifle, work in the dark and do just about everything short of warming the MRE’s

    • The Brigadier

      Yes and you can lift it above an obstacle and do the same thing. This concept was part of the future warrior program a dozen years ago and they could never get it to work quite right and it was cancelled. They had too many bells and whistles like joint platoon sighting of targets and a lot more involving drones and it was confusing to use and used a lot of juice.

      This is a simple weapon sight to helmet eye gear connection and its like a fighter pilots heads up viewer. A fighter pilot doesn’t look through a sight to shoot his cannon. His sight picture is through his heads up display just like this new infantryman’s one is. Same concept. He moves his weapon instead of his head that the fighter pilot does and the enemy is targeted. All he has to do is pull the trigger. This is a very big deal and makes our troops very lethal at day or night.

  • jacquouille la fripouille

    i’d stick to the félin system

  • Dave

    For those that don’t know, most NVGs require the use of an IR laser to aim the rifle because its nearly impossible to get a sight picture with irons or an optic. I suspect these will mitigate that problem as well as over/around obstacles.

    • CommonSense23

      Not really. One it’s going to be far harder to aim. And laser and illuminators are still going to be needed to see when it gets really dark.

      • RA

        Not sure why you think this won’t work in the dark. DRS DVE systems used in MRAPS work great and were primarily used for black out ops.

        • CommonSense23

          I’m assuming you are talking about the thermals. Which aren’t dependent on a illuminator.
          They are fixed position. Versus that of the rifle.

          • RA

            Not sure what you mean by fixed. the sensor is mounted in an EPTM. The driver moves it with a joystick to see in a specific direction.
            If a similar sensor is mounted on a rifle, the operator points the rifle in the direction he wants to see via the sensor.

      • The Brigadier

        Its going to be much easier to aim. You will see the target in your helmet binocular and + marks the target. It won’t take long to move the gun and fix the target in your helmet eyepiece and bang he’s dead. This a very big deal. How much does it cost?

  • lostintranslation

    “Soldiers can also toggle between infrared, thermal or use both at the same time to spot an enemy in low or poor visibility. The weapon sights and goggles can be used individually as well seeing more clearly and further than previous generations.

    The new weapon sights are the smallest and lightest ever built for the Army and now use only four batteries over eight in older models. Control buttons are easier to use and were designed with soldier feedback. One of the biggest improvements in the weapon sight is the distance it can make out a target. Objects can be clearly seen more than 1,000 meters away – beyond the distance of a carbine’s effective range, but good for use on more powerful rifles.”

    If this is a robust miniaturised low light and thermal system, its introduction will be a paradigm shift and launch a new era.

    Thermal has many advantages and is less edgy than low light. The potential down side of thermal is ‘system signal to noise,’ and external ‘ambient noise.’

    The thermal sight visible range must cause some concerns regarding “a carbine’s effective range” and………. ‘overmatch,’ 🙂

  • mooster

    While the “BAE” in “BAE Systems” ties its lineage to British Aerospace (BAe) – it is not an acronym. We are just known as “BAE Systems” and British Aerospace no longer existis.

  • A $65million contract? So, the Army ordered a whole thousand of them?

    • Jason Culligan

      Initial batch for unit integrations practicality tests I would imagine. The technology is still pretty cutting edge and unproven in a military setting so I can’t blame the US Army for purchasing a small order initially.

    • RSG

      Considering they’ve committed to 3 separate contracts, totaling over a billion dollars with DRS, I’d say this is just getting the ball rolling.

    • RA

      Three ;-D

  • Johannes von’ Strauch

    An around the corner aiming device is the most needed thing for Infantery since years! It will rise Infantery to an entirely new level and expecally give them the absolut key advantage over militants! Reducing engagement time, rounds usually needed for supression fire, possible civilian casualties in urban areas. And less Bluefor casualties.

    • roguetechie

      It’s been available for YEARS…

      Honestly, there’s probably 25+ different major manufacturer offerings of them, plus another 30-50 possible setups available as individual piecemeal components…

      If I had unlimited cash etc I’d personally go with the AN-PVS-21 and it’s ecosystem of supplemental components.

      Not only is their headset system light, compact, and much less hard on your neck etc due to fitting tight to the face and with much better mounting arrangements!

      Combine with superior FOV and integrated HUD etc interface and system integration out of the box!

      Oh gun sight reticle can be superposed on HUD or when just using NV.

      its also got image stitching, sensor, data, commo, and “additional” functions able to be fuzed into one customizable data stream…

      Yes… THAT SENSOR FUSION

      • Interesting. Could you elaborate on those 25+ available designs?

        • Phillip Cooper

          Probably not without some sort of NDA or run through JPASS…

  • RSG

    Hopefully over time there will be a dramatic price decrease for pvs14’s for us civies.

    • Ryfyle

      Or a handy cellphone app. We have HUDS, we have cameras, all we need is the affordable NVG.

      • The Brigadier

        If only. I want one of these.

  • Sebastacat

    The wireless connection concerns me. At what range could the enemy detect the wireless signal and be alerted? Once alerted, could they turn on some jammers to block the connection between the scope and the goggles?

    • A.WChuck

      Or locate signal, triangulate, and drop arty on them.

    • CommonSense23

      If the enemy has the tech to locate a small wireless signal such as this they would have found you long before do to your radios. And you should be more worried about them jamming your radios than your wireless sights.

    • Phillip Cooper

      Something akin to Bluetooth, short range only..

      If they’re close enough to detect that, they’ve already smelled what you had for lunch so it’s not an issue.

      Encryption of the signal should definitely be a feature- let’s not forget how they “forgot” to encrypt some of the control uplinks to certain systems not too long ago.

    • The Brigadier

      That is a very good question. The jihadists probably not, but the Russians or the Chinese who are very good hackers? The can probably hardwire the connection if jamming becomes a problem.

  • RA

    The best thing about this article was I found out about Bertoli’s spaghetti sauce!