BAE has designed a new military goggle that combines night vision and thermal imaging, giving the U.S. Army the ability to have both and not have to choose between one and the other during battle.
According to ENGadget, until now soldiers had to carry both technologies as each were designed for very different purposes. Night vision amplifies small amounts of light and lets the user get a feel of the immediate environment. Thermal imaging gives users the ability to identify people and targets at a distance because it uses heat signatures which contrast with their surroundings.
“On today’s battlefield, this slower [two optic] approach, which is often further hampered by heavy smoke or bad weather, compromises soldiers’ safety and can reduce mission effectiveness,” a BAE release stated. “By integrating night vision and thermal targeting capabilities into one sight displayed on the soldiers’ goggles, BAE Systems’ new solution allows troops to more easily acquire targets and engage faster.”
GIZMODO reported that the new goggles overlay thermal and night vision images for the soldier. The optic is mounted on a rifle and has a wireless link to the weapon’s scope. This allows the soldier to quickly toggle between the two modes with a push of a button. It also permits the user to see their sight imagery inside the goggles. This gives a soldier the ability to aim without lasers and allows him the ability to remain covert.
In partnership with the U.S. Army Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate, BAE Systems lists several key operational advantages of the goggles:
- Weapon sight imagery is viewed by the soldier in his goggle which shortens the engagement timeline.
- Wireless interface between the weapon sight and goggle maximizes the soldier’s maneuverability.
- Advanced high resolution thermal imagers extend the goggle and weapon sight target acquisition ranges.
- Light weight and small size reduces soldier fatigue.
- Low power reduces battery usage and operating costs.
BAE has been awarded a five-year $434 million contract to continue optic’s development. There has been no word on how much the goggles will cost and how soon they will hit combat zones.