The Army this month tested groundbreaking new enhanced night-vision goggles complete with an “augmented reality” feature that military leaders say will prove invaluable in combat.
Throughout June, soldiers at Georgia’s Fort Benning — part of the Army Futures Command’s Soldier Lethality Cross Functional Team — tested the new device, known as the “Enhanced Night Vision Goggle-Binocular,” or ENVG-B. The goggles already were outfitted with dual thermal and infrared sensing capabilities to deliver greater clarity to soldiers in the field, particularly in situations where their vision is compromised by weather or other factors.
But the goggles now have been equipped with game-changing 21st-century features, including “augmented reality capabilities” and a display that integrates wirelessly with a soldier’s weapon. Officials say the features not only will give soldiers a much greater picture of the field of battle by providing map overlays and other technological aids, but also could allow them to “detect and even fire on a target around an obstacle.”
“We put an incredible tool in the hands of soldiers who need it now,” said Maj. John Nikiforakis, assistant product manager for Program Executive Office Soldier, which prototypes and fields new equipment for Army personnel.
“But the goal always is to treat the soldier as a system, to equip soldiers and squads holistically with weapons and system elements that work together to make them more lethal and more survivable,” he said. “That’s what we’re doing here, testing the ENVG-B as a system.”
Soldiers tested the new systems during field training exercises this month. The training included a week of marksmanship training on the range, a week of nighttime situational training exercises, and a 72-hour field training exercise.
During the final exercise, 30 participants used the new ENVG-B system while others used more traditional night-vision goggles known as PVS-14s.
“In terms of target detection and clarity, the difference between the (ENVG-B) and the PVS-14 is night and day,” said Capt. Will Hess, commander of the 10th Mountain Division’s C Troop.”The guys wearing the ENVG-Bs were taking targets out to 300 meters and even beyond, whereas our guys with 14s are having trouble seeing beyond 150. I can’t say enough about the ENVG-Bs. There’s really no comparison.”
Army officials say the systems will continue to undergo more tests in the coming months.
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