Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Fort Belvoir, VA, United States (4E) – The U.S. Army will soon equip its warriors with thermal goggles that can see through dense vegetation and smoke; distinguish friend from foe and see far better at night. The goggles will also allow soldiers to shoot around corners
The Army and BAE Systems worked closely to arm soldiers with the breakthrough technology called the “Enhanced Night Vision Goggle III and Family of Weapon Sight-Individual (ENVG III/FWS-I”). This breakthrough program will provide American soldiers with many tactical advantages on the battlefield.
The system coordinates the Colt M4 semi automatic rifle and with electronics worn on the soldier’s helmet. An M4 equipped with the FWS-I sight “talks” to a helmet equipped with an ENVG III night vision goggle. The FWS-I wirelessly transmits its sight picture to the ENVG III, allowing the shooter to see what the sight sees, without having to shoulder the weapon. The soldier can accurately fire from the hip.
The new goggles use both thermal technology to see through smoke and darkness and Augmented Reality (AR) to feed each soldier real-time information on a heads-up display. The current night-vision goggles are a monocle-like device that shows a fuzzy green picture at night.
The new thermal goggles are designed like binoculars and are wirelessly linked to the sight on a soldier’s rifle or machine gun. It identifies heat sources using thermal technology. The goggles can reveal the shapes of enemy soldiers hiding in foliage or obscured by smoke.
The Army said a soldier wearing the new goggles and in position behind a concrete wall or barrier can fire around a corner or above his or her head because of the wireless link on the sight of the weapon. A soldier can still see where the rifle is pointed, even if not looking down the barrel.
That ability will be a tremendous advantage in densely populated cities where a war against Russia will be likely be fought. “We won’t be able to avoid the dense urban terrain or the megacities in the future,” said Maj. Gen. Maria Gervais, deputy commanding general of the Army’s combined arms center at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
The device is tied to a network through smartphones issued to soldiers that allow them to see enemy positions and other intelligence. The heads-up display also includes navigation information such as compass headings and patrol routes.
“We’re seeing the time it takes to hit a target decrease both day and night significantly,” said Gen. Donahue. “Their lethality is through the roof.”
The Army demonstrated the device in a special indoor range at Fort Belvoir.
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