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SHOT Show 2020: Night Vision Beyond Generation 3

Elbit Systems Advancing Technology Baseline for US Army ENVG-B Programme

Elbit Systems of America (ESA) is at the SHOT Show 2020in Las Vegas this week as one of two companies in this sector (L3Harris being the other), supporting an Other Transaction Authority contract for the US Army’s Enhanced Night Vision Goggle-Binocular (ENVG-B) programme. ENVG-B is an evolution of the Army’s ENVG-1, 2 and -3 legacy programmes. Darrell Hackler, Senior Director of Global Sales and Marketing for ESA’s night vision business, told MON the company is going through programme qualifications with the “hope to be on early low-rate initial production sometime early this year.”

ENVG-B is a modular, helmet-mounted, passive electro-optical vision long-wave infrared imaging device in a binocular configuration. As significant is the fact the new product will feature Generation 3 enhancements. Hackler provided some additional background on the product, reminding MON the generation rating (3 in this case) refers to the specification of the image intensifier tubes, as determined by the service’s Night Vision Laboratory at Fort Belvoir, VA. “Both us and L3 are still making Generation 3 technology,” Hackler observed, adding, “what this does is give us extended reliability and some better performance in lower light conditions.”

What is beyond Generation 3 in night vision technology? Hackler initially noted his organization’s 56-strong R&D department is focused on not only meeting Generation 3 requirements but on advancing this baseline. Some probable advances as the technology base moves beyond Generation 3 include reductions in night vision device size, weight and power (SWaP), reducing unit costs and improving the devices’ quality. Regarding the last attribute, Hackler commented that soldiers “need to have better distance – see targets further out, acquire targets quicker, have better clarity, and basically make the goggle perform better than it does.”

Of added interest, about 50% of ESA’s business portfolio is with US friends and allies. Beyond the military market, the company is seeing an increasing demand in its night vision goggle business in the adjacent law enforcement and other first responders’ sectors. “That business is growing for us. We’re even reaching out to state and local law enforcement, and anyone else wearing night vision goggles.”

Inviting MON to visit the Elbit Systems booth at this October’s 2020 AUSA in Washington, DC, Hackler offered the ‘teaser’ that the company will “be launching some new technology at the show.” While he emphasized he does not want to get out in front of the Army customer by declaring a new product ‘Generation 4,’ he concluded “we’re looking at improving the technology – making the image intensifier better than what it is, make the product better and last longer, and basically reduce SWaP.”

Marty Kauchak in Las Vegas for Monch

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