French Army Issues New THALES O-NYX Night Vision Goggles

    In recent news, the French Army is adopting the THALES O-NYX night vision goggles (NVGs). According to the recent press release they will be getting 3,179 units out of 3,519 that were ordered.

    2020’s objective is to field 3179 Onyx NVGs out of the 3519 ordered.
    The remaining ones will be delivered in 2021.
    Several thousand more units will be ordered until 2025 in order to equip the three branches of the military.

    Characteristics of the ONYX NVG device:
    Length: 112 mm
    Width: 75 mm
    Hight: 74 mm
    Weight: 340gr
    Technology: Light Intensification
    Autonomy: more than 40 hours with batteries or 25 hours with AA 1.5V batteries.
    Profile: extra flat, close to the face, very compact and lightweight allowing comfort during long use.
    Field of View: 51 degrees

    Florence Parly, Minister of the Armed Forces, welcomes the delivery of the first O-NYX night vision binoculars (JVN) to the 21st Marine Infantry Regiment (21st RIMa) of Fréjus: “This delivery of new equipment is part of the law of military programming (LPM) designed at breast height: in 2020, a deployed soldier is a better protected soldier. ”

    Designed by Thales, these binoculars benefit from improved resolution and a wider field of vision. They will allow Army soldiers to progress better in the dark and will replace the Lucie binoculars currently in use.

    The delivery of the O-NYX binoculars is part of a larger effort to renew the “small equipment” of the armed forces. This desire is at the heart of the 2019-2025 LPM “at breast height”. Designed to maintain the operational superiority of the French armies, the 2019-2025 LPM focuses on improving the equipment and protection of our soldiers, sailors and airmen engaged in theaters of operations.

    These new night vision binoculars will equip infantrymen of the 21st RIMa and the 2nd Foreign Infantry Regiment (2nd REI) of Nîmes as part of the mission of the units of the 6th light armored brigade in early 2020 in the Sahelo-Saharan strip (BSS) ).

    The objective for 2020 is the supply to the Army of 3,179 ONYX night vision binoculars out of the 3,519 ordered by the General Directorate of Armament (DGA) for the benefit of the armies; the rest of the order will be delivered in 2021. Several thousand additional copies should be delivered by 2025. These night vision binoculars will eventually equip the three armies.

    The adoption of these O-NYX binoculars is part of a broader desire for new “small equipment” intended for the French forces as part of a 2019-2025 LPM at breast height:

    · The delivery, by 2022, of 74,596 Glock 17 GEN5 semi-automatic pistols (PSA).
    · The continuation of the delivery of the HK416 assault rifle started in 2017. In 2020, 12,000 new rifles will arrive in the units.
    · The delivery, by 2022, of 2,620 new SCAR (Special Combat Assault Riffle) sniper rifles for French snipers.
    · The equipment of the forces with new trellises in 2020. 85,000 F3 flame retardant trellises will be perceived within the units, thus making it possible to equip the soldiers deployed in OPEX as from this year.
    · The delivery of 9mm composite burst and bulletproof helmets: in 2020, 25,000 helmets will be delivered.
    · Finally, 37,000 new generation bullet-proof vests have already been delivered between 2018 and 2019, the objective by 2025 being 96,800 deliveries within the forces.
    These deliveries are essential to the mission of deployed soldiers, whose equipment must meet the best standards.

    For those not familiar with THALES they are more commonly known for their LUCIE NVG.

    The THALES LUCIE looks like something out of an Anime. However, outside of the unique aesthetics the LUCIE goggles are nothing special. Take a look at the photo below. The housing is still rather thick. Sure it is shorter in OAL compared to the PVS-14 and PVS-7 but the system functions like a PVS-7.

    Both the LUCIE and now the O-NYX only have a single image intensifying tube. Then the image is split into two eyepieces. So you do not gain true 3D stereoscopic vision like you do with true dual tube bino NVGs. The other problem with the LUCIE/O-NYX design is the position of the objective lens. It is high and to the right. While passively aiming with a set of PVS-7s is difficult, the THALES goggles would be worse. Your optic needs to be even higher for the objective lens to look through it and if you are a left-handed shooter, it would be impossible to look through your optic with the O-NYX covering your face.

    Sure the French Army can use IR lasers but with the increasing problem of peer-forces (enemy forces with the ability to see infrared lasers and lights), they need to practice passive aiming and engagement.

    The specs don’t mean much. No specs on the tubes they are using. Most likely they are using Photonis tubes since they are French as well.  The French Army went with 51° FOV lenses and for some that is not an issue. For others, they see some distortion and a little bit of fisheye effect to the image. Weight-wise at 340g, these are lightweight goggles but they could achieve more with a PVS-14 than this goggle design. There is no benefit to bleaching both eyes with the same image. In fact, the person that filmed the promotional video above does not know how to use night vision. They had the soldier flip the eyecups over his eyes.  While eye cups certainly are a thing, most night vision users opt not to use them. While there is a slight glow splashed onto your eye sockets, you have a better peripheral vision by not covering up your eyes.

    Don’t get me wrong, I want a set of LUCIEs for my NVG collection. But I would not want to use it for battle.

    Nicholas C

    Steadicam Gun Operator
    Night Vision & Thermal Aficionado
    Flashlight/Laser Enthusiast
    USPSA competitor

    Any questions please email him at [email protected]