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Infantry night vision systems.

Infantry Night Vision Systems

The ability to operate and fight effectively at night has long been a requirement for special forces. Over recent years, it has become increasingly important for regular infantry units as well, in both the defensive and the offensive roles, faced with anticipated round-the-clock operations by potential enemies.

Quite apart from Soviet/Warsaw Pact night-fighting doctrine and capabilities, night vision equipment is now freely available on the market to any potential enemy prepared to pay for it. In the Falklands war, for example, the British were shocked to find the Argentinians in possession of commercially available night vision systems far more capable than their own limited-issue kit.

Today's new emphasis on Low Intensity Conflicts, Internal Security, Counter-Insurgency, and Counter--Terrorism is going to further increase the requirement.

What does the requirement cover? As far as the infantry are concerned, it calls essentially for night vision systems for static surveillance, mobile observation, and weapon aiming/firecontrol. The latter includes not only hand-held, but also crew-served weapons such as machine-guns, antitank missiles and infantry SAMs.


Night vision equipment has come a long way since the first infrared (IR) systems were fielded in the 1960s. These were active systems, in which the target area had to be illuminated by a powerful IR projector. The target area was then viewed through a sight operating on approximately the same wavelength. These systems were bulky, limited in range and resolution, and easily detectable by the enemy if he too possessed IR sights.

Passive night vision entered the field in the late 1960s, with the introduction of Starlight Scopes. As their name implied, these relied on the natural light from the stars, moon, etc., that is present on all but the darkest nights. The reflection of this ambient light off objects in the target area was amplified through a series of lenses to provide an image in the viewer's eyepiece.

Unlike the first generation IR systems, they required no artificial illumination of the target, and they could be made relatively small for, say, a rifle fitting. On the negative side, these first-generation passive systems were quite short-range, they were of little use in overcast conditions, they had poor contrast, they were completely disrupted by sudden bright light from e.g. a muzzle flash, they were none too rugged, and they were-at the time - quite expensive.

They were, however, to lead to the development on a large scale of the Image Intensifiers which today represent by far the most widely used infantry night vision systems, of all kinds. Image Intensifier tubes are now into the third (and most expensive) generation, becoming smaller, higher-performing and more rugged along the way.

In essence, Image Intensifiers are vacuum tubes that, via an objective lens, collect photons reflected from the surface of objects in view, on a photocathode. This causes the photocathode to release electrons. In first-generation (Gen 1) systems, the electrons are then amplified by a series of three lenses separated by two phosphor screens, which convert them into a visible image. This is viewed through a magnifying eyepiece.

Gen 2 systems are one third the size of Gen 1 Image Intensifiers, and are far more widely used. Multiplication of the electrons emitted from the photocathode is achieved by a thin microchannel plate sandwiched between the photocathode and the phospor screen. This is followed by an output window consisting of multiple optical fibres and the eyepiece lens.

Gen 2 Image Intensifiers use a Silicon Dioxide photocathode, while in the newer Gen 3 systems this is replaced by a Gallium Arsenide photocathode. The latter is sensitive not only to visible light, but also to a wide IR bandwidth, thus significantly increasing performance and contrast. It is, however, considerably more expensive.

IR night vision technology has meanwhile moved forward on two main fronts. Passive Thermal Imaging was pioneered in the hi-tech aerospace electronics industry, primarily to enable combat aircraft and helicopter pilots to fly missions at night.

Thermal Imagers are now being miniaturized down to the hand-held size and, if a means can be found of eliminating the gas bottle currently required for cooling, they may eventually become as small as conventional sniper scopes. Operating off ambient heat in the target arca, which is much greater than light at night, their great advantages over Image Intensifiers are their longer range, better resolution and their ability to see through vegetation, camouflage and smoke.

The second main development in IR technology for infantry is the laser spot projector, made possible by the miniaturization of low-power lasers. Mounted on hand-held weapons, with which they are bore-sighted, these were initially developed to operate on visible IR wavelengths to provide an extremely fast and accurate point-and-shoot capability in daylight security situations, without endangering innocent bystanders.

The system projects a highly focussed, intense red light beam along the aiming axis, forming an immediately visible red spot on any surface it rests on. This enables a soldier to fire accurately from the hip, without alerting the target by bringing his weapon up to the shoulder.

The problem with the visible wavelength is that the target may well see the laser spot when it rests on him, although he may not immediately identify its source. If the user is slow to fire (perhaps because the target is moving, or close to bystanders) and the target's reactions are fast enough, the latter may have time to take evasive action.

For special operations purposes, laser spot projectors operating at invisible wavelengths are of greater use. With the operator wearing passive night vision goggles, he can locate the target, switch on the projector, bring the spot to bear, and - if his weapon is silenced - achieve a single shot kill, all without giving away his own position.

The following sections of this article describe a selection of the different infantry night vision goggles and weapon night aiming systems currently available.

Night Vision Goggles

Belgium. OIP optics, of Gent, has developed the unique and futuristic HNV-1 holographic night vision goggles jointly with the Belgian Army. The use of holographic optical elements provides a see-through image and allows the wearer to have a view of the un-intensified world at any time, without having to remove or hinge away his goggles. A transparent, wrap-around visor and open-frame construction give wide peripheral vision, while the visor prevents the escape of any stray light from the intensified image that might give away the wearer's position.

The HNV-1 goggles fit directly on the head, and are compatible even with tight-fitting tank crew helmets. Large eye relief allows spectacles to be worn inside the visor, and sharp focussing is achieved with a single knob. The Gen 2 intensifier has unitary magnification, and the holographic night image has a FOV of 40[degrees] horizontal by 30[degrees] vertical. Weight is 800 g without straps, and the centre of gravity is less than 50 mm from the forehead.

France. TRT's OB-41 goggles are compatible with helmets worn by infantry, tank drivers, helicopter pilots, etc., and can be used for driving, minelaying, bridging and other activities at night. They have two separate, but identical vision paths, each with a micro-channel intensifying tube with double-proximity focussing. The Mallory 2.7V battery container, switch and GaAs diode additional light source are all contained in the tight-fitting face mask. The two vision tubes are interchangeable. They have unitary magnification and a 33[degrees] FOV, with focus range of 0.3 m to infinity. Weight of the OB-41 is 900 g.

SOPELEM's TN2-1 goggle is designed for night observation and movement, plus short-range night firing in combination with the company's weapon-mounted PSI IR spot projector. It is in service with French and foreign special forces. The binocular, single tube goggle is light-weight (470 g) and uses a Gen 2 intensifier with unitary magnification and 40[degrees] FOV. Power is supplied from either a 2.7V or 3.5V military Lithium battery, or two 1.5V standard commercial batteries.

West Germany. The Euroatlas single tube night vision goggle weighs only 450 g. It can be mounted on a helmet, a 195 g face mask, or can be used as a hand-held viewer. A laser diode illuminator is incorporated, and the binocular eyepiece is designed to avoid fogging at low temperature. The Gen 2 intensifier

tube is fitted with a 26.6 mm X 1 magnification objective lens giving 40[degrees] FOV, and the lens assembly can be modified to accept a Gen 3 tube. When mounted on a helmet or face mask, the goggle can be swung out of the wearer's vision as required. Power is supplied by two AA/LR6 batteries.

Israel. Ortek's Type 5157 night vision goggles use two focusable 26.6 mm f/1.4 objective lenses, two Gen 2 intensifier tubes and two adjustable eyepieces. Each tube has its own 2.7V Mallory battery, with a life of about 20 hours, automatic brightness control and bright source protection. An auxiliary IR light source is incorporated for near-view tasks such as mapreading. The goggles are fixed to a face mask and fitted to the head by self-tightening straps. Weight is 1 kg.

Netherlands. Delft Instruments produces two night vision goggles. The single tube PC1MC Cyclop uses a Gen 2 intensifier, has X 1 magnification and a 40[degrees] FOV, and weighs 600 g including two AA cells.

Delft's PGIMS uses two special intensifier tubes, one for each eye. The tubes are of ligthweight housing materials and use high-speed optics. Magnification is X 0.9, FOV a minimum 40[degrees], and weight is 1 kg.

Switzerland. Laser Technologies' Nivigo night vision goggle is a Gen 2, single tube instrument weighing 620 g. It can be attached to a face mask for hands-free operation, but is unusual in that it can be easily detached for use as a hand-held viewer, and slung on a strap around the user's neck. The objective lens can be focussed, and the biocular eyepieces can be independently adjusted. An auxiliary IR light source is built in. The 2.7V Mercury battery has a life of 60 hours. Magnification is X 1 and FOV 40[degrees].

Wild Heerbrugg's BIG2 single tube biocular goggle is also a Gen 2 device, but is designed to allow upgrading to a Gen 3 intensifier tube. It incorporates automatic brightness control and bright point protection, as well as an auxiliary IR light source. An indicator appears in the FOV when the latter is switched on. Magnification is X 0.98, FOV 41[degrees] and weight 580g.

United Kingdom. Pilkington PE developed the Nova single tube Gen 2 goggle in response to a Ministry of Defence requirement. Weighing 500 g (600 g including head mount giving 25 mm eye relief), the Nova has only three controls - for on/off, focusing and adjustment of the biocular eyepieces. Overall magnification is X 1, FOV is 40 [degrees] horizontal by 30 [degrees] vertical, and a standing man can be recognized at 300 m in starlight conditions (10-3 lux).

United States. Baird's general-purpose night vision goggle (GP/NVG-1) is a product programme with Litton for what has been designated the AN/PVS-7A by the US Army (see below).

ITT Electro-Optical Products Div. is a major producer of night vision goggles for the US Army. It has manufactured the binocular AN/PVS-5C in quantity, and is now manufacturing the latest single tube AN/PVS-7B Gen 3.

The PVS-5C weighs 907 g and uses two Gen 2 intensifier tubes with f/1.1 objective lenses. Magnification is X 1 and FOV 40[degrees]. An IR light source is built in, as is an automatic high-light cutoff feature that protects the intensifiers against prolonged exposure to bright light. Power is from either one 2.7V military battery or two commercial AA penlight batteries.

ITT began producing the single tube AN/PVS-7B with a Gen 2 intensifier, but has now moved on to a Gen 3 tube. This gives a photo response in the near IR region (0.90 [micro]m), permitting operation at below starlight conditions. The PVS-7B is extremely lightweight, at 680 g. It is either headmounted, beneath a support projecting from the wearer's forehead and held in place by comfortable straps, or hand-held. A quick-release lever permits one-hand mounting and unmounting. An IR source is incorporated, with an indicator in the FOV. A 26 mm f/1.2 objective lens and matching 26 mm biocular eyepiece lenses are used. Brightness gain is 1850, magnification X 1 and FOV the standard 40[degrees]. 2.7-3.0 V power is supplied from either two commercial AA alkaline penlight batteries, or one Lithium, or one Mercury battery.

Litton Electron Devices has produced the binocular M-802 and derivative M-909 night vision goggles for the US Army in considerable quantities. The Army designation for the M-802 is AN/PVS-5A. Weighing 850 g including batteries, the PVS-5A uses two Gen 2 intensifier tubes with a nominal gain of 500. Magnification is X 1 and FOV 40[degrees]. The M-909 version incorporates improved objective lenses, higher gain (1200), and brighter Gen 2 intensifier tubes. Useful range is increased by 33 percent over the PVS-5A, but weight is slightly higher, at 880 g.

Litton's latest night vision goggle for the US Army is the M972/M973, designated AN/PVS-7A by the Army. This is a single tube system, initial units of which (M972) used a Gen 2-Plus intensifier. Current production is all M973, however, with a Gen 3 intensifier tube. The PVS-7A weighs 680 g mounted, and can be hand-held, mounted on a helmet, or headmounted on an open face mask surrounding the forehead, temples, cheeks and chin, with straps around the back of the head. The mask gives 25 mm eye relief. The goggle is held to the mask by one quick-release clamp. Magnification is X 3, FOV 40[degrees] and brightness gain (Gen 2-Plus) 1850.

In addition to ITT, the AN/PVS-7B is also produced by Optic-Electronic Corp., which has a company designation for it of NV38-A. OEC, however, also offers a hand-held binocular version of it with 120 mm lens in place of the 27 mm lens. This is known as the NV38-B.

Varian, teamed with Varo as subcontractor, has now been awarded a three-year contract by the US Army to produce ANVIS aviators' night vision goggles, using Gen 3 intensifier tubes.

Weapon Night Sights

and Pointers

Belgium. Arsoc Sprl, of Barchon, has developed the Ariel IR laser pointer in conjunction with the Belgian armed forces. Measuring only 103 mm long by 30 mm in diameter, it weighs 145 g, excluding the strong clip with which it is mounted over the rear of a hand-held weapon's working parts cover. Ariel is used with night vision goggles, and also features an Owl divergent lens cover providing an IR torch capability in total blackout conditions, without interfering with its laser spot projection. Battery life is about 8 hours.

France. The SOPELEM PSI spot projector weighs 250 g and is boresighted with the weapon on which it is mounted. It emits an infrared beam invisible to the naked eye, with a spot size of 10 cm at 100 metres' distance. The PSI must therefore be used with a night vision device such as the company's TN2-1 goggle (see above), with which it is being supplied to French and foreign special forces.

SOPELEM's OB-50 night aiming scope uses a Gen 2 intensifier with double-proximity focus and automatic gain control. An illuminated micrometer and an eyepiece shade with a shutter are fitted. Weighing 0.9 kg less support, the OB-50 has a magnification of X 3.2 and an 11[degrees] FOV. It is 230 mm long and is powered by either two 1.5 V commercial batteries, or 2.7 V or 3.5 V military Lithium cells. It is suitable for rifles, machine-guns and light anti-tank rocket launchers.

TRT is programme manager for the MIRA thermal imaging night sight of the Euromissile Milan anti-tank missile, with Marconi Space and Defence Systems in the UK, and Siemens in Germany, as partners. MIRA is an add-on unit that reflects the thermal image into the Milan optical sight. It uses series-parallel scanning and a CMT detector array, with the image produced by LED visualisation. Detection range is 4000 m, recognition range 2000 m, and operating time with one cooling bottle and internal battery 2 hours. MIRA weighs 8 kg.

West Germany. Elektro-Spezial produces the Gen 2 binocular goggles for Heckler & Koch's infantry night combat system INKAS, which also includes an H&K infrared laser spot projector. INKAS is in production for the German armed forces. The target market weighs 200 g, can operate for 3 hours continuously on its battery, and has a range of 200 m.

The Euroatlas range of night weapon sights is mostly produced under license from the USA. These include the AN/PVS-4 Gen 2 rifle sight, the AN/TVS-5 Gen 2 crew-served weapon sight, and the M937/M938 Gen 2/Gen 3 individual weapon sight designated Eurovis-4 by Euroatlas.

Euroatlas does, however, manufacture its own designed RT5A laser torch and LM-18 laser target marker. The RT5A is designed to be mounted on night vision devices for use in difficult conditions or total darkness, when it can provide illumination invisible to the naked eye. The laser torch has an eye danger range of 50 m, but is effective to 1000 m. Weighing 650 g, it operates on the 840-870 nm wavelength, with a beamwidth of one mrad. The laser diode has a radiant output of 6-10 mW. Power is supplied by six AA or LR6 batteries.

The LM-18 covert IR target marker is a laser spot projector designed for weapon mounting, with an integral bore-sighting mechanism. It is used with night vision goggles and is waterproof to a depth of 30 m. The main unit weighs 350 g, and is connected by cable to a pressure switch that can be mounted by Velcro strap anywhere on the weapon. Operating in the 800-870 nm wavelength, the LM-18 is effective to 300 m and produces a spot size of 50 mm at 50 m range.

Dynamit Nobel produces a covert laser spot projector for the Panzerfaust 3 anti-tank rocket launcher that also requires the operator to be wearing night vision goggles.

In cooperation with Karl Zeiss, Eltro produces the Gen 1 Orion 80 and Orion 110 image intensifying sights for small-arms. The Orion 80 is 290 mm long, has a max. diameter of 95 mm, and weighs 1.8 kg. Magnification is X 4 and FOV 8[degrees]. Reticle adjustment is +/-5 mils in 0.5 mil steps. The 2.5 V NiCd battery has a life of 25 hours between charges. The Orion 110 is larger, measuring 320 mm long, with a max. diameter of 120 mm and a weight of 2.1 kg. Magnification is X 6 and FOV 6[degrees].

International. The SATEL consortium (comprising SAT of France, Thorn EMI of the UK, and Germany's Eltro) is developing the thermal imaging night sights for both the

PHOTO : The Philips USFA UA1116 Gen 2 sight weighs 1.6 kg, has X 4.2 magnification and can be fitted to all small arms and m.g.s.

PHOTO : Litton diagram of night vision goggle components.

PHOTO : Wild Heerbrugg's BIG 2 singular biocular goggle is in service with the Swiss Army.

PHOTO : SOPELEM's Gen 2 TN2-1 goggle is designed for use with the weaponmounted PS-1 laser spot projector.

PHOTO : Delft Instruments (Netherlands) produces among other systems the Lunos range of night vision devices, including the PCIMC Cyclops.

PHOTO : Pilkington PE's Nova, for the British Army, permits recognition of a standing man at 300 m in starlight (10-3 lux).

PHOTO : Baird's NVG-1, developed with Litton is a variant of the US Army's current AN/PVS-7A

PHOTO : The US Army's Gen 3 AN/PVS-7B from ITT and Optic-Electronic Corp. varies slightly from the AN/PVS-7A.

PHOTO : The MIRA thermal imaging sight for the Milan is produced by a TRT-led consortium including Siemens and Marconi Space & Defence System. medium and the long-range versions of the Euromissile Dynamics TRIGAT anti-tank missile. Both thermal imagers will incorporate a new generation of IR charge-coupled device detectors, and will provide greatly enhanced spatial and thermal resolution.

The Tiger thermal sight for the medium range missile will have X1 magnification, with input and output aligned, and will clip over the day sight. It will have a dual FOV and be capable of detection and identification at ranges of 2 km.

The Condor thermal sight for the long-range missile will be the primary aiming system for the weapon. It will permit identification at 5 km and provide good correlation with the missile's Imaging IR seeker. The sight will be an auto-focussed, indirect-view system with three fields of view, and will use digital video processing techniques to enhance the displayed image. The head will be stabilized in azimuth and elevation, and will incorporate a laser rangefinder.

International Technologies (Lasers) Ltd manufacturers the SL-1 laser sniper light as well as two much smaller IR laser aiming lights. The 550g SL-1 uses a GaAs laser diode operating in the 830-870 nm wavelength, at 10 m W average power. It has a beam divergence of 1.5-2.5 [degrees] and has four light-level settings. The SL-1 is normally mounted on the sniper weapon, together with the night vision scope, for which it provides illumination invisible to the naked eye in conditions of total darkness. Alternatively, it may be remoted, thus protecting the sniper from IR sensors in the target area.

The company's AIM-ID IR laser aiming light, for use with night vision goggles, weighs 225 g excluding two AA cells, measures 92 X 57 X 49 mm, has a power output of 2 m W, and has a beam divergence of 0.3 mils. It is contained in a cast modular package and will fit any weapon from a pistol up to a machine-gun. A long-range version, designated AIM-IDLR, has the same weight, dimensions and beam divergence, but output power is increased to 20 m W. The AIM-IDLR is intended for fitting on crew-served weapons.

The Ortek ORT-MS4 is a 1.19 kg Gen 2 night weapon sight that can also double as a hand-held viewer. It has a magnification of x 3.75 and a 10 [degrees] FOV. Length is 230 mm, and a 100 mm fixed focus objective lens is fitted. Range is 500 m in moonlight and 350 m in starlight conditions.

* Italy. Aeritalia Avionic Systems and Equipment Group has moved on from the 2 kg Gen 1 M166 rifle sight, which entered production in 1977 for the Italian armed forces, to the Gen 2 M193. This measures 340 mm long by 83 mm diameter, and weighs 1.9 kg. The M193 has a magnification of x 4.8 and a 13 [degrees] FOV. A 3 V Lithium battery gives 60 hour's continuous operation.

Aeritalia's M176 night observation sight is designed for artillery fire-control and as a crew-served weapon sight on e.g. the M40 recoilless rifle. Weighing 2.2 kg, it has a magnification of x 5.3 and a 10.5 [degrees] FOV. A 136 mm f/1.2 catadioptric objective lens is fitted, and the 3 V Lithium battery gives up to 50 hours' operation.

Officine Galileo offers three types of night vision weapon sight. The 1.0 kg OGVN7 uses a Gen 2 intensifier tube and is designed for personal weapons. It is fitted with automatic brightness control and an automatic switch-off that is activated by dangerously high brightness in the 13[degrees] FOV. Magnification is x 2.8, resolution is one mrad at 0.001 lux, and a sighting graticule and bore-sighting device are incorporated. Two 1.5 V LR6 Alkaline-Manganese batteries have a life of 40 hours.

The OGVN3 is intended for sniper weapon and is in service with Italian Navy special forces. Weighing 2.35 kg, it uses a Gen 2 tube, has x 3.6 magnification and an 11 [degrees] FOV. Resolution is 0.8 mrad at 10-3 lux. The OGVN3 has the same automatic brightness control and switch-off features as the OGVN7, but its luminous aiming graticule also has adjustible brightness. Its two 1.5V LR14 Alkaline-Manganese batteries allow 35 hour's operation before changing.

Officine Galileo also manufactures the 11 kg VTG120 thermal imaging system for surveillance and crew-served weapons, such as the TOW anti-tank missile. Operating in the 8-14 micron bandwidth, it has two fields of view. The wide FOV is 60 x 120 mils, with 0.5 mils resolution, while the 20 x 40 mils narrow FOV has 0.16 mils resolution. Detector is a CMT 60-element array with 120 lines. Cooling is by Joule-Thomson mini-cooler. The integral gas bottle and 22-28 V NiCd battery provide 2 hours' operation. On a standard night, a tank can be detected at 3 000 m and identified at 2 000 m.

* Netherlands. Delft Instruments produces three night weapons sights and a laser pointer. The Type TM-007 laser target pointer is designed for use with night vision goggles and weighs 350 g including two 1.5 V AA batteries with a life of 4 hours. IR laser output power is 2 mW, with an optional increase to 15 mW, and wavelength 820 nm. Beam divergence is 0.35 mils, producing a 10 cm spot at 300 m visible through night vision goggles.

Delft's GK4MC passive weapon sight uses a Gen 2 tube and weighs 1.5 kg. It has a magnification of x 4 and a 10 [degrees] FOV. The MS4GT is one third smaller, at 1.0 kg, with the same x 4 magnification but an 11 [degrees] FOV. Both sights can be fitted to a variety of personal and platoon weapons, and both are powered by two AA batteries.

The slightly larger GK7MC Gen 2 aiming device is designed by Delft for medium range, crew-served weapons. Weighing 2.2 kg, it has x 6.7 magnification and a 7.5 [degrees] FOV. Dimensions are 363 x 174 x 134 mm, and power supply is either two NiCd AA batteries, or one Lithium cell with an adapter.

Philips USFA's 1.1 kg UA1134 compact individual weapon sight is designed for use on individual assault weapons. It uses a Gen 2 intensifier tube, but may also be fitted with a Gen 3 tube. Magnification is x 4 and FOV 7.9 [degrees], with batteries supplying 2.6V dc power. Automatic bright point protection is built in.

The Philips UA1116 Gen 2 sight weighs 1.6 kg and can be fitted on all current types of infantry small arms and machine-guns. Magnification is x 4.2 and FOV 9.5 [degrees]. Power requirement is 3 V dc.

Philips USFA has also developed the unique UA1137/01 Gen 2 self-powered rifle sight, which requires no batteries. Weighing less than 1.5 kg, it operates in all ambient light conditions from full daylight down to starlight. An f/1.2 lens with a fixed focus of 75-400 m is used. Magnification is x 1.5, with 22 [degrees] horizontal and 10 [degrees] vertical FOV. The limited vertical FOV shields the tube from sky illumination and muzzle flash. The internal energy source is manually recharged during use.

* Norway/Sweden. Simrad of Norway and Sweden's Bofors Aerotronics are both producing the essentially identical KN250 (Simrad) and NK24 (Bofors) image intensifier as an add-on to laser rangefinders and daylight optical sights. The 740 g, x 1 magnification system is mounted above the day sight, the intensified image being relayed down into the objective lens of the latter via two mirrors. Either a Gen 2 or a Gen 3 intensifier tube may be fitted.

Using thermal imaging common modules provided by Thorn EMI, of the UK, Bofors Aerotronics is also producing the night sight for the RBS56 Bill infantry anti-tank missile. Weighing 9.2 kg, the sight operates in the 8-12 [micro]m wavelength, has x 1 magnification (the thermal image is transferred into the x 7 magnification day sight), a FOV of 107 x 43 mils, a resolution of 1.5 lines per mil, and a thermal resolution of better than 0.1 [degrees] C. A Joule Thomson mini-cooler, with 0.33 litre coolant bottle (life 2 hours), keeps the detector array at -196 [degrees] C in operation, and a 12 V dc battery also provides power for 2 hours.

The Bill night sight is simply clipped on top of the day sight, with no need for bore-sighting. It can be used in daylight to detect heavily camouflaged targets.

* Pakistan. The Institute of Optronics Pakistan is manufacturing the American Gen 2 AN/PVS-4A individual weapon sight and AN/TVS-5A crew-served weapon sight under licence.

* South Africa. Armscor's MNV miniature night sight is a 950 g, Gen 2 device with x 2.6 magnification and 16 [degrees] FOV. Developed for counter-insurgency operations after extensive combat experience, it enables recognition of a man-size target at 200 m range on a standard night. It is powered by two 1.5 V AA penlight batteries.

* Spain. The Spanish Army is now using ENOSA's VNP-004 night sight on its MG42 machine-guns. Based on a Philips Gen 2 intensifier tube, it weighs 3.2 kg, has a magnification of x 3.5, and a 9.5[degrees] FOV. Resolution is 0.6 mrad at 10-5 lux. Two 1.5 V R14 or equivalent batteries provide more than 50 hours' operation.

* United Kingdom. Davin Optical's IRS 218 night rifle sight uses a Gen 2 Mullard XX1500 or micro-channel plate intensifier tube, and weighs 1.0-1.2 kg excluding two AA batteries with a life of 40 hours. It has x 2.8 magnification and a 14.6 [degrees] FOV. An illuminated aiming mark is injected into the eyepiece.

EEV Night Vision Systems' high-performance Lion night sight uses a Gen 2 tube, but its new double-coated lens also permits a Gen 3 tube to be incorporated and used to maximum effect. An illuminated graticule is incorporated, and manually or automatically controlled contrast levels can be provided. Magnification is x 3.5, FOV is 120 mils, and a standing man can be detected at 600 m at 10-3 lux. The lithium battery provides up to 100 hours of operation.

GEC Sensors' Pullin Controls Division has recently developed the Type SS84 lightweight individual weapon sight. Using a Gen 2 tube, it weighs 940 g including 2.7 V Mercury battery. Magnification is x 3.8, FOV 9.9 [degrees], and the red illuminated graticule is automatically controlled by scene luminescence.

The Pullin Controls Type SS86 is a lightweight crew-served weapon sight using a Gen 2 tube and weighing 2.3 kg. Magnification is x 6, and FOV 6 [degrees]. The red illuminated graticule is controlled automatically.

Phychem Ltd (which markets its products via its Advision Systems trading division) produces the Model 1500 Gen 2 night sight weighing 1.0 kg. Magnification is x 3, (FOV) 10 [degrees]. And gain x 45 000. Two AA cells have a life of about 80 hours.

Phychem's P840 IR pointer is designed for use with small calibre weapons and night vision devices or goggles. It weighs just 290 g. Operating at 820 nm with a power of 2 m W, its 5.4 mm diameter beam has a divergence of 0.3 mils.

One of the world's most successful night sights is Pilkington PE's Kite individual weapon sight, selected for the British Army's SA80 weapon system and by nearly 30 foreign armies. The Kite accepts Gen 2 or Gen 3 intensifier tubes, weighs 1.0 kg, has x 4 magnification and a 9 [degrees] FOV. Under standard night conditions, it enables a man-size target to be detected at 600 m. The refractive lens system incorporates an injected graticule, and bright point suppression is built in. Power is drawn from two AA batteries.

For sniper use, PPE has developed the Maxi-Kite by adding a 1 000 m-range telescope to the basic Kite with a Gen 3 tube. During military tests of Maxi-Kite, accurate hits were reportedly achieved against man-size targets at the astonishing range of 900 m in light conditions of 10-3 lux.

PPE's laser target indicator is designed for use with night vision goggles and can be mounted on any direct-fire weapon. It projects its one mil-divergence beam up to 500 m and weighs 340 g. Operating at 820 nm, it is powered by three AA batteries, giving up to 4 hours' continuous use.

* United States of America. Baird Corporation is producing two laser spot projectors for use with night vision goggles. The 170 g night vision aiming light is designed for mounting on the M16 rifle. The pulsed diode emits on the 8 500 A wavelength, and produces a spot size of 15 cm at 100 m. Baird's longer range, 340 g REM007 IR target pointer is, in fact, the same device as Delft Instruments TM007 (see above).

ITT Electro-Optical Products Division has developed the Gen 3 F4960 Stinger Night Sight, derived from the well-proven AN/PVS-4. The 60 mm f/1.2 objective lens has a magnification of x 2.26, and a FOV of 23.5 [degrees]. Combined with ITT's Gen 3+1 intensifier tube, this permits target detection at up to 7 km range. Weighing 1.9 kg without its mounting bracket, the sight is powered by two AA batteries for up to 30 hours.

Litton's M937/M938 individual weapon sights are identical, except that the former uses a Gen 2 tube while the latter has a Gen 3 intensifier. Designed for use on weapons from 5.56 mm rifles up to machine-guns, they each provide x 4 magnification and 8.5 [degrees] FOV. Weight is 1.1 kg including two 1.5 V AA batteries with a life of 50-60 hours. Resolution of the M937 is 2.8 lp/mrad, while that of the M938 is 3.2 lp/mrad.

The Litton M921 is a submersible Gen 2 night sight for use on personal weapons. It is Teflon-coated, and is watertight to depths of 50 m for missions requiring underwater transport. Weighing 2.1 kg including battery (life 12 hours), the M921 provides x 4 magnification and an 8.5 [degrees] FOV, with a resolution of 1.8 lp/mrad. A Gen 3 tube can be fitted at the factory.

The Magnavox Short-Range Thermal Sight (SRTS) is designed for use on the M16 rifle and M203 grenade launcher. Weighing 1.8 kg, it operates in the 3.7-5.0 micrometre bandwidth, and has a FOV of 6 [degrees] horizontal and 4 [degrees] vertical. A disposable lithium cell has an operating life of 10 hours.

Meyers & Co's Dark Invader 3000 and 3010 series night vision equipment is in service with police and law enforcement agencies in several countries, with the US Presidential security service, and US special forces. They can be mounted on a variety of handheld weapons. Using Gen 2 intensifier tubes, they can also be fitted with a patented IR Spot Illuminator. This provides covert illumination and identification of targets up to one km away, and is particularly useful in illuminating darkened windows, and providing facial identification that is normally impossible with an image intensifier alone. The IR Spot Illuminator is also available with an optical zoom feature, and with an eye safeguard on higher power models. Coherent and non-coherent models are available. Weight of the basic sight is 1.0 kg, magnification x 3, FOV 10.6 [degrees], and gain x 70 000. Resolution is 36-10 lp/mm.

Optic-Electronic Corp. produces the widely employed AN/PVS-4 individual weapon sight, under the company designation NVS-700. This Gen 2 sight weighs 1.8 kg, has x3.5 magnification, and a 14.5 [degrees] FOV. Effective range is 700 m in moonlight, or 450 m in starlight. Two AA cells have an operating life of 60 hours.

The company also produces the AN/TVS-5 crew-served weapon sight, under its own designation of NVS-800. Weighing 3.8 kg, the Gen 2 device has x 6 magnification and a 9 [degrees] FOV. Effective ranges are 2 000 m by moonlight, or 1200 m in starlight conditions. A 155 mm f/1.7 objective lens is used.

Optic-Electronic's AN/PAQ-4 IR laser aiming light must be used with night vision goggles. Weighing only 300 g, it is eyesafe and uses a GaAs laser diode powered by two BA 1567/U batteries with a life of 100 hours. Its beam is 2 mrads in diameter, and is effective at up to 150 m. The PAQ-4 is used by anti-terrorist squads, police, commando and jungle warfare units.

Varo Electron Devices manufactures the AN/PVS-4 Gen 2 weapon sight, which weighs 1.5 kg and has a magnification of x 3.7. FOV is 14.5 [degrees]. The PVS-4 is in service with the US Army and Marine Corps. It features an adjustable internally projected recticle and interchangeable reticle pattern, manually adjustable image tube gain and reticle brightness, automatic gain control circuitry, and muzzle-flash protection reacting fast enough for the user still to see the impact of his shot. 30 hours' operation is provided by two AA batteries.

Varo's AN/TVS-5 Gen 2 crew-severed weapon sight has similar features to the PVS-4, but considerably higher performance. It too is in service with the US Army and Marine Corps. Weighing 3 Kg, the TVS-5 has x 6.2 magnification and a 9[degrees] FOV. Two AA batteries permit up to 30 hours' operation.

The company's 1.7 kg Model 9866A weapon sight uses a Gen 2 tube, has x 3.7 magnification, and a 14.5 [degrees] FOV. Two AA batteries give 15 hours' operation. Optional features include a x5 magnification binocular eyepiece, 35 mm SLR relay and 16 mm video relay lenses for night photography.

At the 1989 AUSA Show, Varo introduced two new products, the Aquila mini weapons sight and the Model 9886A IR aiming light. The Aquila was developed for special operations forces and weighs a mere 97 g, although it has a magnification of x 4. It can use interchangeable Gen 2 or Gen 3 intensifier tubes, and can be mounted on any hand-held weapon. Prices are under $ 4 000 with a Gen 2 tube, and under $ 5 000 with a Gen 3 intensifier.

The Model 9886A IR aiming light is used with night vision goggles and has a maximum effective range of 300 m, thanks to its output power of 3.2 m W. Beamwidth at 300 m is that of a man, and at 100 m it is 4.5 inches. Costing $ 750, the aiming light is watertight to one m depth. It has already been ordered by the FBI, and is on test with special forces in the US and several NATO nations.

PHOTO : The Tiger thermal sight for the Trigat Medium Range missile is being developed by the SATEL consortium (SAT, Thorn EMI and Eltro).

PHOTO : Pilkington PE's new Maxi-Kite for snipers uses a Gen 3 intensifier tube and a telescope. Hits at a remarkable 900m have been achieved with it at night.

PHOTO : M16 rifle shown with a Gen 3 Litton M938 individual weapon sight, plus the laser spot projector known as the International Technologies (Lasers) AIM-IDLR.

PHOTO : Bofors Aerotronics' thermal sight for the RBS56 Bill uses Thorn EMI thermal imaging common modules.

PHOTO : Delft's new MS4GT is a Gen 2 weapon sight with x 4 magnification and a weight of under 1 kg.

PHOTO : The 170g Baird Model 4040 night aiming light for the M16 rifle must be used with night vision goggles.

PHOTO : Simrad's KN250 is an add-on to optical sights. Bofors Aerotronics' version is designated NK24.

PHOTO : ITT's Stinger night sight is derived from the AN/PVS-4 and uses a Gen 3+1 intensifier. It is effective out to 7 km.

PHOTO : Varo's Aquila x 4 magnification mini weapon sight uses either a Gen 2 or a Gen 3 tube, and weighs 97 g.

PHOTO : The Varo Model 9986A IR aiming light, used with night vision goggles, has a range of 300 m. Ordered by the FBI it is on test with NATO special forces.
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Title Annotation:includes related articles on image intensifiers
Author:Adcock, Gene
Publication:Armada International
Date:Jun 1, 1990
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