The United States Army recently awarded BAE Systems $97 Million in orders for new night vision goggles and thermal weapon sights for the Enhanced Night Vision Goggle III and Family of Weapon Sight-Individual (ENVG III/FWS-I) program. The all-in-one weapon sight system allows soldiers to acquire and eliminate enemy targets through a wireless connection that transmits the weapon’s crosshairs and surrounding imagery directly into the soldier’s goggles.
BAE Systems ENVG III/FWS-I integrated system uses a wireless connection that transmits the weapon sight’s aim point and surrounding imagery directly into the soldier’s goggles. (Source: BAE)
With both units wirelessly integrated, soldiers are on the verge of using weapon sight imagery and aim to point technology that can wirelessly transmit the gun’s sights to the soldier’s goggles with one click of a button - for a quick tactical edge during close combat warfare.
In other words, soldiers are about to receive futuristic devices that replace traditional night vision goggles with integrated systems, and allow troops on the battlefield to “shoot around corners, see-through dense vegetation, and smoke, plus distinguish friend from foe,” said USA Today.
“It is no longer just a night vision device,” said Army Col. Christopher Schneider, the project manager for the system that can be worn night and day. “The enemy cannot see we are targeting him until we pull the trigger.”
BAE Systems promotional video titled: Own the night with ENVG III/FWS-I
(By integrating night vision goggles and weapon-mounted thermal sights into one system, BAE Systems’ Enhanced Night Vision Goggle III and Family of Weapon Sight-Individual (ENVG III/FWS-I) solution makes darkness a tactical advantage for the dismounted soldier. (Source: BAE Systems via YouTube)
“Aiming to provide the most technically advanced and lightweight solution possible, our goggles allow soldiers to quickly detect and engage targets for a tactical edge,” Marc Casseres, director of Precision Guidance and Sensing Solutions at BAE Systems, said in a recent BAE press release.
“When fully integrated with the FWS-I weapon sight, the combined solution provides superior imagery and a target acquisition capability that can greatly increase mission success and survivability,” he added.
The high-tech goggles are part of the United States Department of Defense (DoD) modernization program to keep the United States Armed Forces technologically ahead of China and Russia, which, in recent years, has shown they are quickly catching up. USA Today notes that the DoD has spent more than 17 years in Afghanistan and Iraq, as China and Russia have studied the various strategies and technologies deployed on the Middle East battlefield.
“Our adversaries have been studying our strengths and our vulnerabilities and are developing capabilities to exploit those vulnerabilities,” Gen. Mark Milley, the Army’s chief of staff, warned in a speech last year.
“They have steadily eroded our competitive advantage and are rapidly closing the capability gap that we have long enjoyed,” he added.
A thermal sight on an M4 service rifle is connected wirelessly to the new night vision goggles attached to a soldier’s helmet. (Source: Jack Gruber, USA Today)
Integrated situational awareness and thermal targeting system. (Source: BAE)
USA Today points out that America’s rapid modernization program is the most significant in five decades, as China and Russia’s technological advancements have alarmed U.S. military officials.
“With U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan winding down, the Army has embarked on its largest modernization programs since the Vietnam War nearly five decades ago to overhaul its weapons, training and tactics.
The post-Vietnam revamping transformed a large draft Army with discipline and other problems into a smaller all-volunteer fighting force equipped with modern weapons and better-trained troops.
The problems are not as desperate now, but officials are worried about the progress that Russia and China have made. Technological breakthroughs are cheaper and happen faster than decades ago when America could count on its advantages in industry and technology to power the military
“We still maintain overmatch, but they are closing the gap,” Army Undersecretary Ryan McCarthy said in a recent interview.
McCarthy said that Army is in the process of establishing a Futures Command headquarters — based in an urban environment with close relationships to academic institutions and local industry. The Army wants a location that “will help us think differently and get more people from the country to help us solve problems,” he explained.
At $23,000 a pop, the Army plans to field 36,000 FWS-Is and 64,000 ENGV IIIs to combat teams in the second half of 2018.
A soldier with the advanced goggles will be able to fire an assault rifle around corners or above his or her head because of the wireless sights attached to the Picatinny rail of the weapon. The ability to field the goggles before the next war breaks out will be critical for urban warfare in densely populated cities.
“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, Kan.
War is coming. The Army is preparing.