Home' Defence Review Asia : DRA July-August 2017 Contents DefenceReviewAsia | JULY/AUG 2017 25
U.S. Marines and Sailors with the Maritime Raid Force, 11th Marine Expeditionary unit, use infrared lasers to sight in on
targets while conducting a live-fire shoot on the flight deck of the USS Somerset (LPD 25). Credit: USMC / April Price
by putting on a pair of glasses. In December 2016
Australian National University researchers announced
that they had designed a nano crystal around 500
times smaller than the diameter of a human hair that
‘blueshifts’ IR light directly into the visible spectrum.
By applying them as a thin film on glass, they hope to
eventually make lightweight night-vision glasses that
give a direct view into the infrared.
NVD technological advancements used
to be classified as generations, where each
generation varied in terms of design, technology
and performance. The term ‘generation’ is now
generally considered outdated. It has been
superseded in the low light space by a reference
to an Image Intensified (II) tube or NVD Figure of
Merit (FOM). FOMs are derived empirically from
the relationship between signal to noise ratio, tube
resolution and, when considered as a system, the
optical aperture as well.
The revolutionary INTENSTM Technology developed
by PHOTONIS, which it provides in its newest II
tubes, is compliant with the new 4G NV standard.
PHOTONIS has a combat proven and revolutionary
technology that overtakes the performance of
gallium arsenide II tubes widely deployed in the past.
They claim this technology provides about 40%
more efficiency in DRI (Detection, Recognition and
Identification) when compared with older equipment.
INTENSTM collects photons in the UV (below 400
nm) and IR (above 900 nm) part of the light spectrum
and that makes missions possible in all kinds of
terrain (from sea shores – more in the blue spectrum
to jungle and moonless nights – more in the red
spectrum), just with one II tube.
US Defense Department scientists are working
with UTC Aerospace Systems on a new, digital
NV and thermal device (PIXNET) that is smaller
and lighter than the Army’s latest Enhanced NV
Goggle (ENVG). The Army began fielding the first
generation of the ENVG in 2009 and has since
fielded a slightly improved version in the ENVG II.
The ENVG technology consists of a traditional IR
image intensifier similar to the older PVS-14 and a
thermal camera. The system fuses the IR with the
thermal capability into one display. The US Army
plans to field the ENVG III, which weighs less
than a kilogram, soon.
The PIXNET camera is designed to provide small
combat units with a ‘helmet mounted shortwave and
longwave IR blended imager with wireless networking
capability,’ according to officials from the Defense
Advanced Research Projects Agency.
‘The PIXNET system will give soldiers enhanced
imaging capability and allow them to wirelessly
transmit an image to an Android-based phone in a
head-mounted google’, noted John Bazzano of UTC
Thales are a well-known international supplier of
NVDs which they claim offer long-wearing comfort,
ergonomic and compactness. Their products such
as MINIE – Ultra compact Night Vision Goggles;
MINIE D – Connected Night Vision Goggles with
integrated video display; MINIE DIR – Connected
fused sensor Night Vision Goggles; LUCIE - Light
and compact intensifier goggles; and MONIE -
Monocular intensifier equipment are fully compliant
with military specifications. Thales’ current NV
products compete at all FOM levels. They maintain a
policy of II tube independence.and offer a complete
range of accessories.
The Australian International Airshow at Avalon in
March 2017 saw the launch of Point Trading’s next
generation night vision aviation goggles. Point Trading
declared that the goggles, named Night Eyes-Aviation
(NE-A), a revolutionary step forward in aviation night
vision technology, developed using Australian R&D.
Point Trading CEO and founder 30 years ago, Mr
Avner Klein, said: “I am really excited about our new
product and even more excited that the goggles are
Australian owned and made.
“Night Eyes offer several significant improvements
over the competition including an electronic wireless
logbook that records transmission, world first digital
data collection function and analysis as well as better
product accuracy when in use.”
NE-A goggles are unique and do not involve any
American design or components. All in one unit, it is
powered by integral AA or CR123 batteries. With IR
illumination switched on these typically have a battery
life of 10 hours (AA) or 18 hours (CR123). Without
IR illumination they last another 10 hours or so,
dependent on the battery make and model.
NE-A uses PHOTONIS image intensifier tubes
in the goggles, which weigh just 580 grams, with
the helmet mount adding an extra 140 grams. They
can focus from 20cm to infinity. The NE operates
underwater making them suitable for search and
One excellent feature of NE-A is the built-in
Integrated Logistics System (ILS) which can reveal
configuration details, date of last service, and
information on the image intensifier tube. Remote
interrogation of the ILS data stored in the NVG
provides a very economic and effective tool for
managing a large fleet of these devices. Point Trading
state that the service interval is normally one year.
Exelis Corporation, a spinoff from ITT Exelis in
2011, now owned by Harris Corporation, is the
world’s largest supplier of NVDs. The company
has the US Navy, Marines, Army and Airforce for
customers as well as supplying their products to
more than 50 countries in Europe, the Americas,
Asia, the Middle East and Africa, as well as Australia.
Managed by their Asia Pacific headquarters in
Singapore, Exelis works through Harris facilities in
Singapore, Philippines, Malaysia, Australia, Hong
Kong, Japan, Taiwan, China, India and Pakistan. Their
main NV product is enhanced night vision googles, but
they are active in other defence fields as well.
The newest member of Elbit Systems - ITL’s night
vision monocular family is the XACT NV32, which
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