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Army Investing in More Night Vision Goggles, Thermal Weapon Sights

By pairing ENVG III and FWS-I, Soldiers no longer need to switch between night vision goggles and weapon-mounted thermal sights when acquiring or engaging threats, improving soldier safety and mission effectiveness. (U.S. Army photo)
By pairing ENVG III and FWS-I, Soldiers no longer need to switch between night vision goggles and weapon-mounted thermal sights when acquiring or engaging threats, improving soldier safety and mission effectiveness. (U.S. Army photo)

The Army recently ordered $97 million worth of the service's latest Enhanced Night Vision Goggles and carbine-mounted thermal weapon sights in an effort to improve soldier marksmanship at night.

The order is part of a five-year, $434 million contract the Army awarded to BAE Systems in 2015 to produce the ENVG III and the Family of Weapon Sights-Individual.

When used together, the system will dramatically improve how soldiers engage enemies at night, Army officials say.

Soldiers can wirelessly transmit the Family of Weapon Sights-Individual's sight reticle into the wide display screen of the helmet-mounted Enhanced Night Vision Goggle III and quickly fire at enemy targets.

Currently, most soldiers use basic night-vision PVS-14, which takes ambient light from the stars and the moon.

The ENVG technology consists of a traditional infrared image intensifier similar to the PVS-14 and a thermal camera. The system fuses the IR with the thermal capability into one display.

Soldiers can choose between IR and thermal, or use both at the same time for an extremely effective tool for spotting the enemy at night or during the day in obscured conditions, such as smoke, fog and sandstorms.

Thermal sights on their own have a narrow, 18-degree view. When the ENVG III and the FWS-I are used together, the shooter has much larger target image, BAE and Army officials have said.

"Aiming to provide the most technically advanced and lightweight solution possible, our goggles allow soldiers to quickly detect and engage targets for a tactical edge," Marc Casseres, director of Precision Guidance and Sensing Solutions at BAE Systems, said in a recent BAE press release. "When fully integrated with the FWS-I weapon sight, the combined solution provides superior imagery and a target acquisition capability that can greatly increase mission success and survivability."

The Army began fielding the first generation of the ENVG in 2009 and has since fielded about 20,000 of the slightly improved ENVG II. The ENVG III weighs about two pounds and features wireless capability.

The wireless FWS-I weighs about 1.5 pounds and has a range of 1,100 meters. It can be mounted on the M16 rifle, M4 carbine and M249 squad automatic weapon.

The Army plans to begin fielding the ENVG III in the third quarter of fiscal 2018 and the FWS-I in the second quarter of fiscal 2019. BAE Systems and DRS are the prime contractors and will manufacture both systems.

The service plans to field 36,000 FWS-Is and 64,000 ENGV IIIs to squad leaders and team leaders in infantry brigade combat teams, Army officials said.

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.

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