Army Links New Thermal Scope and ENVG with Wireless Connection


FWS-I and ENVG III prototype

The Army's latest weapons sight technology could be a significant breakthrough in how soldiers engage the enemy at night.

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In three years, the Army hopes to start fielding the Family of Weapon Sights-Individual, a new lightweight thermal weapon sight that is designed to communicate wirelessly with the service's latest Enhanced Night Vision Goggle (ENVG).

Linking these two technologies creates a new capability called Rapid Target Acquisition, according to Lt. Col. Timothy Fuller, product manager for Soldier Maneuver Sensors at Fort Belvoir, Va.

The FWS-I mounts on the M4 carbine or the M249 squad automatic weapon. At the push of a button, a soldier can wirelessly transmit the FWS-I's sight reticle into the wide display screen of the helmet-mounted ENVG III and quickly fire at the enemy target, Army officials said.

ENVG III and FWS-I morph display

Back in the early days of the Army’s Land Warrior program, Army officials tried to link weapon to the high-tech system’s helmet mounted display so soldiers could stay behind cover by holding their weapon up over a wall or around a corner.

The weapon-mounted thermal sight sent a signal through a cable to the system’s micro-processor and the target and the sight reticle would appear in the soldier’s helmet-mounted display.

The concept worked, but soldiers hated it because the bulky cables would get snagged in tight areas or on tree branches in the woods. The thermal sight back then was also too heavy and bulky.

Col. Mike Sloane, Project Manager for Soldier Sensors and Lasers, said this new wireless technology has changed all that.

“I have gone to some of these early user assessments and talked to the soldiers about what they like about this system … and I got to tell you they are pretty excited about it -- one because of the capability without all the wires; two, how clear that picture is; and three, it is wirelessly transmitting into their ENVG III so it opens up the whole world,” Sloane said.

“They certainly understand 'hey I don’t have to put myself at risk.' You could be inside a building and have full situational awareness. … You could reach out and look around without exposing yourself and see what is over there.

“You can be reaching out there and have your reticle, your crosshairs directly on your target, reach out and take a shot without having to exposing yourself.”

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