Through a Glass, Darkly: Night Vision Gives US Troops Edge
May 6/16: Elbit Systems has announced the successful testing of their new BrightNite multi-spectral panoramic vision system . The system was installed on an Airbus Twin-Star helicopter and trialed by a dozen pilots from various Air Forces. BrightNite’s function is to allow utility helicopters to successfully operate in poor visibility missions, and was tested during moonless and pitch-back night-time conditions, when missions are rarely executed.
A USA Today article, dramatically demonstrates the advantage night vision capabilities provide to US troops on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan.
It was Christmas Eve 2007, and US Army Rangers were searching for suspected Al-Qaeda members in Mosul, Iraq. Using their night vision goggles to avoid alerting the enemy, the Rangers found 2 Al-Qaeda suspects who were holding an 11-year-old Iraqi boy hostage. Thanks to their night vision capabilities, they were able to shoot the suspects without harming the boy. After that encounter, a firefight erupted between the Army rangers and Al-Qaeda insurgents, with 10 insurgents killed, including the head of an assassination cell. Army ranger losses? Zero. As former General Barry McCaffrey, commander of the US Army’s 24th Infantry Division in the 1991 Desert Storm conflict, commented: “Our night vision capability provided the single greatest mismatch of the war.”
It still does. This free DID Spotlight Article will examine how this technology works, how its military application has developed over years, how the technology is used by troops in the field, as well as major contracts for procuring night vision goggles.
Night Vision Technology
Night vision technology uses image intensification (I2) to see details at night because it works by intensifying the existing light spectrum. Low levels of ambient light pass through a photocathode that converts the light photons to electrons, then amplifies them. Sensitivity levels to various infrared, ultraviolet and visible spectrum wavelengths vary with the exact device. They then hit a phosphor screen (read: “TV screen”) where they are converted into visible light (read: “picture”).
The phosphor screen is colored green because the human eye can differentiate more shades of green than other phosphor colors. Like cameras, night vision devices have various image magnifications. The distance at which a human-sized figure can be clearly recognized under normal conditions (moon and star light, with no haze or fog) depends on both the magnifying power of the objective lens and the strength of the image intensifier.
A complementary technology – infrared (IR) or thermal imaging – uses heat sources (aka. “deep infrared” spectrum) instead. Because infrared is actively emitted and not just reflected, and isn’t blocked as easily as visible light, this form of “infravision” works in no-light conditions that may prevail underground and inside dark buildings, or in conditions like dust storms, fog, etc. The more sophisticated night vision systems for US soldiers also incorporate IR technology to provided another way to see things at night.
The night vision industry has evolved through three generations of development. Each generation offers more sensitivity and can operate effectively on less light.
The early 1960s witnessed the beginning of passive night vision. Technological improvements included vacuum-tight fused fiber optics for good center resolution and improved gain, multi-alkali photocathodes and fiber optic input and output windows.
Generation I devices lacked the sensitivity and light amplification necessary to see below full moonlight and were often staged or cascaded to improve gain. As a result, Generation I systems were large and cumbersome, less reliable, and relatively poor low-light imagers. They were also characterized by streaking and distortion. Operating life expectancy of Generation I image intensifier tubes was about 2,000 hours. Generation I technology is obsolete in the US market.
An example of a Generation I device is the AN/PVS-2 scope [pdf].
The development of the microchannel plate (MCP) led to the birth of Generation II devices in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Higher electron gains were now possible through smaller packaging, and performance improvements made observation possible down to 1/4 moonlight.
The first proximity focused MCP image intensifier tube was an 18mm used in the original AN/PVS-5 night vision goggles. Generation II tubes had a life expectancy from 2,500 hours to 4,000 hours.
Generation II+ provided improved performance over standard Generation II by providing increased gain at high and low levels. Generation II+ equipment provided the best image under full moonlight conditions and was recommended for urban environments.
Examples of Generation II devices include:
A Generation III intensifier multiplies the light gathering power of the eye or video receptor up to 30,000 times. Requiring over 460 manufacturing steps, the Generation III intensifier is typically characterized by a gallium arsenide (GaAs) photocathode. The photon sensitivity of the GaAs photocathode extends into the near-infrared region, where night sky illumination and contrast ratios are highest.
Sealed to an input window that minimizes veiling glare, the photocathode generates an electron current which is proximity focused onto a phosphor screen, where the electron energy is converted into green light that can then be relayed to the eye or sensor through an output window.
Continuing improvements have increased the operating life expectancy of Generation III tubes to 10,000 hours. This is an important consideration when the intensifier tube normally represents 50% of the overall cost of the night vision system.
Generation III’s high infrared response complements this phenomenon, creating a sharper, more informative image.
Examples of the Generation III devices include:
- AN/PVS-7 binocular night vision goggles
- AN/PVS-10 night vision scope
- AN/PVS-14 monocular night vision goggles
- AN/PVS-15 submersible night vision binoculars
- AN/PVS-23 binocular night vision goggles
- AN/AVS-6 goggles for helicopter pilots are now produced at the Gen III standard
- AN/AVS-7 aviator’s night vision imaging system
- AN/GVS-5 laser rangefinder
- AN/AAS-32 airborne laser tracker
- MX-10160 image intensifier assemblies for NVD use
Generation III+ devices differ from standard Generation III in 3 ways. First, an automatic gated power supply system regulates the photocathode voltage, allowing the device to adapt instantaneously to changing light conditions.
The 2nd way is a removed or greatly thinned ion barrier, which decreases the amount of electrons that are usually rejected by the standard Generation III MCP, resulting in less image noise and the ability to operate with a luminous sensitivity at 2850K of only 700, compared to operating with a luminous sensitivity of at least 1800 for Generation III type image intensifier.
And the 3rd way is combining the I2 and IR technologies to enable troops to use the goggles in any environment.
Riding the Omnibus
Since 1985, the US Army has procured night vision devices through a series of Omnibus multiyear contract vehicles.
Under Omnibus I, the Army awarded multiyear production contracts to Litton for AN/PVS-7A binocular night vision goggles and a joint venture of ITT/Varo for AN/PVS-7B binocular night vision goggles.
This contract set the stage for subsequent omnibus contract packages that covered the multiyear procurement of AN/PVS-7 series and AN/AVS-6 and AN/AVS-9 aviator’s night vision systems and associated I2 tubes. Omnibus II was awarded in 1990; Omnibus III in 1992; Omnibus IV in 1996; Omnibus V in 1998; and Omnibus VI in 2002.
The most recent contracts, Omnibus VII, were awarded to Northrop Grumman and ITT in 2005. The indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contracts have a potential value of an estimated $3.2 billion during the 5-year contract period.
Each of contractors received the same total potential award of up to 370,486 AN/PVS-14 monocular goggles and 34,300 AN/PVS-7 binocular goggles and associated MX-10130/UV image intensifier tubes, and MX-11769/UV intensifier tubes.
Night Vision Limitations
As former General McCaffrey said, night vision provides a significant advantage to US troops in the field. However, with benefits come risks. Some of the risks include accidents caused as a result of poor device design or inadequate training. For example, night vision devices cause problems with soldier’s depth perception, peripheral vision, and color-based vision.
The I2 technology used in night vision devices can increase distortion of light and limit the soldier’s field of vision. In addition, the technology does not work in no light environments.
The visual clearness provided by I2 technology rapidly diminishes for objects over 400 feet away, particularly if they are moving quickly. Also, weather can significantly diminish the functioning of night vision equipment. Rain, clouds, mist, dust, smoke, and fog all affect performance. For example, if a helicopter lands in a dusty area, the dust blown up by the rotors can make I2-based night vision systems virtually useless. Also, a bright moon can significantly degrade performance; it is the equivalent of looking at the sun with the naked eye.
While IR technology can be used effectively in no light environments, it too has limitations that could lead to accidents in the field. For instance, IR technology cannot be used to identify precise details of remote objects, particular if they have similar heat footprints. In addition, IR technology cannot distinguish facial features.
Although IR technology is better at seeing through rain and fog, it has problems distinguishing objects that have been cooled by rain, such as runways. Also, high humidity impairs the ability of IR devices to distinguish heat signatures.
The Way Ahead
One solution to the shortcomings of the I2 and IR technologies is to combine them in one system. This is the approach taken by the Generation III+ night vision devices discussed above. When it is raining or foggy, the soldier can switch from I2 to IR technology. When facial features need to be seen, the soldier can switch back.
In addition, by digitizing the images, night vision goggles would not only enable the fusion of I2 and IR technologies, but also allow those images to be sent via a communication link to other soldiers as well as back to the command post.
Going digital does come at a price. Just as earlier versions of digital electronics, such as the cell phone, were larger, heavier and more power hungry than their analog counterparts, so the new digital night vision devices that fuse I2 and IR capabilities electronically. Further development will needed so that these devices do not become a burden, instead of an aid, to the soldier in the field.
All in all, the benefits of night vision technology far outweigh the problems and give US forces a vital advantage in close quarters’ combat.
Contracts and Key Events
A broad range of contracts have been issued by the US military for night vision devices over the years. Below is a list of the major contracts issued since 2004. Note that orders for PAS-13 thermal weapon sights are covered in full elsewhere, as they are properly weapon scopes.
May 6/16: Elbit Systems has announced the successful testing of their new BrightNite multi-spectral panoramic vision system. The system was installed on an Airbus Twin-Star helicopter and trialed by a dozen pilots from various Air Forces. BrightNite’s function is to allow utility helicopters to successfully operate in poor visibility missions, and was tested during moonless and pitch-back night-time conditions, when missions are rarely executed.
FY 2011 – 2012
Sept 19/12: In September 2012, the The US Army Contracting Command in Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD issues a pair of contracts for Enhanced 3rd Generation Aviator’s Night Vision Imaging Systems. Army systems are focused on systems for helicopter pilots, and the $200 million firm-fixed-price contract is a multiple-award vehicle, which means that the 2 winners will compete for each task order from the date of issue to Sept 3/17.
The firms involved have since confirmed to DID that this contract covers the AN/AVS-6, which can be mounted to a variety of aviator helmets, including the SPH-4B, HGU-56P, and Alpha. The bid was solicited through the Internet, with 3 bids received, but just 2 winners:
- L-3 Communications Corp. in Tempe, AZ (W91CRB-12-D-0014)
- [ex-ITT] Exelis Inc. in Roanoke, VA (W91CRB-12-D-0015).
Sept 30/11: FLIR Boston Systems, Inc. in North Billerica, MA receives an $18.1 million firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for the “clip-on night vision device, thermal, short-range”, and accessories in support of U.S. Special Operations Command.
$420,920 will be obligated at time of contract award. Work will be performed in North Billerica, MA, and is expected to be complete by September 2016. This contract was competitively procured via the Navy Electronic Commerce Online website, with 9 offers received by the US Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division in Crane, IN (N00164-11-D-JN68).
Sept 30/11: FLIR Government Systems Pittsburgh, Inc. in Freeport, PA receives a $30.1 million firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for the “clip-on night vision device, image intensified”, and accessories in support of U.S. Special Operations Command.
$65,100 will be obligated at time of award. Work will be performed in Freeport, PA, and is expected to be completed by September 2016. This contract was competitively procured via the Navy Electronic Commerce Online website, with 5 proposals received by the US Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division in Crane, IN (N00164-11-D-JN67).
June 13/11: ITT Corp. in Roanoke, VA received a $36.2 million firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for AN/AVS-9 night vision image intensifier sets, for use by USMC and US Navy helicopter pilots. The AN/AVS-9 system is a night vision system consisting of a binocular imaging assembly, a helmet mount, a low profile power pack, a carrying case, and ancillary equipment.
Work will be performed in Roanoke, VA, and is expected to be completed by June 2016. $1,719,720 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/11. This contract was competitively procured via the Navy Electronic Commerce Online website, with 2 offers received by the US Naval Surface Warfare Center in Crane, IN (N00164-11-D-JQ00).
April 13/11: L-3 in Garland, TX receives $7 million firm-fixed-price indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for 2,588 Enhanced Third Generation Image Intensification Ground Night Vision Imaging Systems. Work will be performed in Garland, TX, with an estimated completion date of May 22/14. Two bids were solicited with 2 bids received by U.S. Army Contracting Command at Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD (W91CRB-11-D-0083).
Dec 16/10: All Native Service Co. in Bellevue, NB received a $22.7 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for technology advancement support services to the Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate at Fort Belvoir, VA. This effort provides the Army and Department of Defense with technology solutions for night vision and electronic sensors and sensor suites for target acquisition, engagement and defeat of enemy forces day or night, and under all battlefield and weather conditions.
Work will be performed at Fort Belvoir, VA (23%); Yuma Proving Grounds, AZ (11%); Fort AP Hill, VA (11%); Eglin Air Force Base, FL (11%); Fort Hunter Liggett, CA (11%); Jefferson Proving Grounds, IN (11%); White Sands, NM (11%); and Aberdeen, MD (11%). Work is expected to be completed by December 2011. The contract was not competitively procured by the US Naval Surface Warfare Center in Indian Head, MD (N00174-11-D-0006).
Oct 20/10: EOIR Technologies announces that it received a $245 million contract from the US Army’s Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate to provide engineering support and technology assistance. The contract supports research, development, experiments, engineering, prototyping, and field support to develop quick reaction war support services and material related to the directorate’s efforts at Fort Belvoir and Fort AP Hill, Quick Reaction Programs, Overseas Contingency Operations, as well as operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
FY 2008 – 2010
Aug 12/10: ITT Corp. in Roanoke, VA wins a $260.5 million firm-fixed-price contract for 220 enhanced night vision goggles test articles, and associated contracts date requirement lists. Work will be performed in Roanoke, VA, with an estimated completion date of Aug 9/13. Bids were solicited on the web with 6 bids received by the US ARDEC Contracting Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD (W91CRB-10-C-0177).
The USA’s ENVG, or AN/PSQ-20, is the first helmet-mounted night vision monocular to combine the strengths of both image intensification (I2) and infrared (IR, or thermal) technologies into one device. ITT competed in the second ENVG follow-on proposal with an updated version that it calls the Spiral Enhanced Night Vision Goggle (SENVG) that incorporates the 18 mm image intensifier tube, utilizes several qualified ENVG subassemblies, and is powered by 3 AA batteries/. It also adds a digital upgrade capability that will allow the goggle to export fused imagery for transmission via battlefield networks.
In 2005, ITT was one of the firms awarded the initial ENVG contract, with the U.S. Army beginning fielding of the units in April 2008. As of August 2010, ITT has provided over 2,400 ENVG systems to the U.S. Army, with another 6,500 to be delivered on the current contract. See also ITT release
Aug 12/10: DRS Systems, Inc. in Parsippany, NJ receives a $255.3 million firm-fixed-price contract for 220 enhanced night vision goggles test articles, and associated contracts date requirement lists. Work will be performed in Roanoke, VA, with an estimated completion date of Aug 9/13. Bids were solicited on the web with 6 bids received by the US ARDEC Contracting Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD (W91CRB-10-C-0178).
Aug 12/10: L-3 Insight Technology, Inc. in Londonderry, NH wins a $255.3 million firm-fixed-price contract for 220 enhanced night vision goggles test articles, and associated contracts date requirement lists. Work will be performed in Roanoke, VA, with an estimated completion date of Aug 10/13. Bids were solicited on the web with 6 bids received by the US ARDEC Contracting Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD (W91CRB-10-C-0179).
April 15/10: L-3 Communications completes its acquisition of Insight Technology in Londonderry, NH. Insight develops and manufactures night vision and electro-optical devices, including laser aiming and illumination devices, laser rangefinders, laser markers and designators, night vision goggles and monoculars, and thermal imaging systems. Insight employs approximately 1,100 people and has $290 million in annual sales. L-3 said that the purchase price represents 9 times Insight’s estimated 2010 EBITDA (see Feb 19/10 entry). L-3 expects the acquisition to add $200 million to its sales. The company will be renamed L-3 Insight Technology. Terms were not disclosed.
April 5/10 The DoD’s Joint Improvised Explosives Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) issued a broad agency announcement asking for industry proposals on ways to integrate night vision devices into explosive ordinance disposal (EOD) bomb suits for use in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to JIEDDO, the face shields on the EOD bomb suit helmets currently do not allow for the use of night vision devices, such as the PVS-7 and PVS-14. Proposals are due June 4/10.
March 30/10: L-3 Communications’ EOS Division in Garland, TX received a 2-year, $30 million indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for the purchase of MX 10160 image intensifier assemblies in support of US Special Operations Command Headquarters Procurement Division. The work will be performed in Tempe, AZ and is expected to be complete in 2012 (H92222-10-D-0012).
March 1/10: Insight Technology in Londonderry, NH received a $34.1 million firm-fixed-price contract for the Fusion Goggle System Version 4 (FGS V4) from the US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). The command requires the FGS V4 for special operations force elements currently engaged in the overseas contingency operations. The application for this item is combined thermal imaging and image intensification. Work will be performed in Londonderry and is expected to be completed by March 2015. The Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane Division in Indiana manages the contract (N00164-10-D-JQ58).
Feb 22/10: The US State Department announces that on Feb 4/10 it lifted a 3-year export debarment imposed on ITT for export rule violations regarding its night vision systems.
In March 2007, ITT plead guilty to violating the US Arms Export Control Act when the company released technical information to China, Singapore and the United Kingdom for night vision systems without proper export licenses. In December 2007, ITT agreed to pay penalties and institute remedial compliance measures to address its lax export control compliance. Under the debarment, the State Department restricted certain exports of night vision equipment and technical data to specific countries.
According to the Feb 22/10 Federal Register announcement:
“The Department of State has reviewed the circumstances and consulted with other appropriate U.S. agencies, and has determined that ITT Corporation has taken appropriate steps to address the causes of the violations and to mitigate any law enforcement concerns.”
In response, ITT said in a statement:
“ITT has spent a tremendous amount of effort, time and resources to ensure that its export compliance program is effective and fully compliant with government law and regulations. The reinstatement of export privileges reinforces our commitment to ensure that we are following both the letter and intent of all U.S. laws and regulations.”
Feb 19/10: L-3 Communications announces that it agreed to acquire Insight Technology in Londonderry, NH, for an undisclosed consideration. Insight develops and manufactures night vision and electro-optical devices, including laser aiming and illumination devices, laser rangefinders, laser markers and designators, night vision goggles and monoculars, and thermal imaging systems. Insight employs approximately 1,100 people and has $290 million in annual sales. L-3 said that the purchase price represents 9 times Insight’s estimated 2010 EBITDA. It expects to complete the acquisition in the second quarter of 2010.
Feb 8/10: Irvine Sensors in Costa Mesa, CA announces a subcontract worth up to $18 million to supply clip-on thermal imagers (COTI) to Optics 1 under a $37.8 million COTI contract awarded by the Naval Surface Warfare Center of Crane, IN (see Jan 20/10 entry).
Irvine Sensors and Optics 1 jointly developed the COTI technology. The COTI has been designed to clip onto existing military night vision goggles and provide users with thermal images to complement the amplified low-light images that the goggles currently provide. There are about 1 million night vision goggles in US military inventories that could potentially be retrofitted with the COTI system, according to Irvine Sensors.
Jan 20/10: Optics 1 in Manchester, NH won a $37.8 million firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 6,600 Clip on Thermal Imager (COTI) systems, repairs, spares and associated data. The COTI clips onto the AN/PVS-15A night vision goggle to give special operation forces an optically fused device providing a thermal image into either the right or left side of the PVS-15A goggle. Optics 1 will perform the work in Manchester, NH, and expects to complete it by January 2015. This contract was competitively procured via FedBizOpps with 2 offers received by the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Crane, IN (N00164-10-D-JQ48).
Jan 12/10: ITT Night Vision Division in Roanoke, VA received a $7.4 million firm-fixed-price contract for various night vision equipment for the Canadian military. ITT will perform the work in Roanoke, VA, with an estimated completion date of Dec 31/10. CECOM Acquisition Center at Fort Monmouth, NJ manages the contract (W15P7T-10-C-D214).
Oct 16/09: ITT Corp. received a $72 million indefinite-delivery/ indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract for its aviator’s night vision goggles (AN/AVS-6), night vision tubes and spare parts. The company competitively won 100% of the contract awarded by the US Army Research Development and Engineering Command. With this most recent award, ITT said it remains the sole supplier of aviation goggles and tubes to the US Army.
Oct 16/09: ITT Corp. received a $19.3 million delivery order from the US Army’s Research Development & Engineering Command Acquisition Center under the OMNI VII contract (see Sept 15/05 item) for AN/PVS-14 night vision monocular devices – 80% of these goggles are destined for the US Air Force with the remaining quantities for the US Navy and US Army.
The AN/PVS-14 is a night vision monocular that provides enhanced resolution for mobility and target identification. For use by ground forces, these devices can be hand-held, head- or weapon-mounted or fitted to a camera. The AN/PVS-14 operates on a single AA battery and comes equipped with ITT’s thin-filmed proprietary Generation 3 Pinnacle image intensifier tube that has the ability to detect available light more than 10 times the power of previous generations.
Aug 12/09: ITT Corp. received $43 million in follow-on orders for Enhanced Night Vision Goggles (ENVG) and associated spare parts from the US Army’s Research, Development and Engineering Command Acquisition Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground in MD. The original contract (W91CRB-05-D-0012), awarded in 2005, has a potential value of $560 million. ITT partnered with Raytheon in developing the ENVG, which combines a number of night vision technologies.
The ENVG, or AN/PSQ-20, is the first helmet-mounted night vision monocular to combine the strengths of both image intensification (I2) and infrared (IR, or thermal) technologies into one device, according to ITT. The US Army’s first unit equipped with ENVG was introduced in April 2008.
Jan 8/09: L3 Electro-Optical Systems (EOS) in Garland, TX won [pdf] a maximum $48.9 million firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for Submersible Binocular Night Vision Systems (SBNVSs). The SBNVSs will be used by US Navy personnel to provide night vision capability. Work will be performed in Garland, TX and is expected to be complete by January 2014. This contract was competitively procured via FedBizOpps, with 4 offers received. The Naval Surface Warfare Center in Crane, IN manages the contract (N00164-09-D-JQ69).
Sept 29/08: Small business qualifier Norotos in Santa Ana, CA won a maximum value $15 million firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for ruggedized night vision mounting hardware. The night vision mounting hardware will be procured for surface US Navy operational use with current night vision devices as well as future procurements of night vision devices. The helmet-mounting system will be universal to support AN/PVS-15B binocular, AN/PVS-7C goggle, AN/PVS-18 monocular, and F6015 monocular.
Work will be performed in Santa Ana, CA and is expected to be complete by June 2013. Contract funds in the amount of $194,000 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via FedBizOpps, with 2 offers received by the Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane IN (N00164-08-D-JQ23).
Sept 17/08: Science Applications International Corp. in San Diego, CA won a $6.7 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract. The primary objective of the Advanced Night Vision System program is to develop core technologies for improving night vision capability in urban operations. Work will be performed in San Diego, CA; Elk River, MN; Bull Shoals, AZ; Palo Alto, CA; Watertown, MA; and Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD, with an estimated completion date of March 15/10. Bids were solicited via a Broad Agency Announcement and 3 bids were received by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in Arlington, VA (HR0011-08-C-0144).
June 18/08: ITT Night Vision in Roanoke, VA received a $6.9 million firm-fixed-price contract for PVS-7D night vision and AN/PVS7 night vision devices. Work will be performed in Roanoke, VA and is expected to be complete by Dec 31/09. For this contract, 1 bid was solicited by the US Army’s CECOM Acquisition Center in Fort Monmouth, NJ (W15P7T-08-C-D236).
June 9/08: Information Network Systems in Alexandria, VA received a $9.2 million task order (#0030) under a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (M67854-02-A-9013) to provide analytical, acquisition, administrative and logistics support for the Program Manager, Optics and Non-lethal Systems, Infantry Weapons Systems, Marine Corps Systems Command. PM ONS develops, demonstrates, procures, fields, and provides life-cycle management support for electro-optical systems, optics tools and test equipment, and non-lethal and force protection (NL/FP) systems to support USMC warfighting forces. This includes all day and night scopes, laser pointers, laser illuminators, thermal weapons sights, night vision enhancement devices, and NL/FP systems. Work will be performed in Stafford, VA and is expected to be complete in June 2009. The Marine Corps System Command in Quantico, VA manages the contract.
FY 2004 – 2007
Sept 28/07: ITT Night Vision in Roanoke, VA received a $10.9 million firm-fixed-price contract for procurement of AN/AVS-9 Aviator’s Night Vision Goggles and associated data. The AN/AVS-9 Aviator’s Night Vision Goggles are helmet-mounted goggles that will be used on US Navy ships for nighttime flight operations by both aircraft pilots and ship crew members. Work will be performed in Roanoke, VA and is expected to be complete by September 2012. This contract was not competitively procured by the Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane Division, IN (N00164-07-D-8540).
Sept 6/07: ITT Night Vision in Roanoke, VA received a maximum $37.1 million fixed-price indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for a maximum of 5,200 submersible monocular night vision systems (US Navy); 2,500 submersible monocular night visions systems (US Coast Guard); 3,000 head-mount face mask assemblies; 7,500 head mounts; 3,000 head straps for personnel armor system for ground troops helmet; 3,000 head straps for modular integrated communications helmet (MICH); 3,000 low profile 3-hole MICH mounting brackets; and associated data.
Work will be performed in Roanoke, VA and is expected to be complete by September 2012. Contract funds in the amount of $5.6 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured by a request for proposals with multiple firms solicited and 1 offer received by the Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane Division, IN (N00164-07-D-8550).
July 18/07: Northrop Grumman’s Litton Systems in Garland, TX received a $74 million indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity letter contract for production and delivery of the AN/PVS-17C miniature night sight, and associated spare and repair parts. The contract provides for a minimum quantity of 100 and a maximum of 10,000 units. Work will be performed in Garland, TX and is expected to be complete in December 2010. This follow-on contract meets an urgent requirement, and was not awarded competitively by the Marine Corps Systems Command in Quantico, VA (M67854-07-C-1011).
July 16/07: ITT Night Vision in Roanoke, VA received a maximum $16.6 million firm-fixed-price indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for a maximum of 6,800 18 mm Image Intensifier MX-10160C Tubes. Image Intensifier Assembly 18-mm Microchannel Wafer High Performance Tubes are utilized in night vision goggles.
Work will be performed in Roanoke, VA and expected to be complete by July 2012. This contract was competitively procured by a request for proposals with 2 firms solicited and 1 offer received by the Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane Division, IN (N00164-07-D-8543).
May 21/07: ITT Corp.’s Night Vision Division in Roanoke, VA received a $6 million firm-fixed-price five-year indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for 18 mm Image Intensifier Tubes for use in night vision goggles, night vision weapon sights, night vision binoculars and night vision monoculars. The tubes magnify and enhance existing natural light or laser illumination to allow users to see in the dark.
Work will be performed in Roanoke, VA, and is expected to be complete by May 2012. This contract was competitively procured and solicited via the web via FedBizOpps with 1 offer received by the Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane Division, IN (N00164-07-D-8520).
April 24/07: DRS technologies subsidiary Night Vision Systems in Allentown, PA received a maximum $139.3 million fixed-price with economic price adjustment contract for night vision equipment on behalf of the US Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps. This is a 5-year contract with 1 base year and 4 one-year options. There were 5 proposals solicited and 4 responded. Date of performance completion is April 19, 2008. Contracting activity is Defense Supply Center Columbus, (DSCC) in Columbus, OH (SPM7AX-07-D-7014).
March 21/07: Columbia Research Corp. in Washington, DC received a $6.3 million term task order (M67854-04-A-5167 Task Order 0003) for acquisition, logistics, and administrative support services for the Program Manager Optics & Non-Lethal Systems (ONS), Infantry Weapons Systems office. The ONS program manager develops, demonstrates, procures, fields, and provides life-cycle management support for optics and non-lethal systems to support USMC warfighting forces. This includes all day and night scopes, laser pointers, laser illuminators, thermal weapons sights, night vision enhancement devices, and non-lethal systems.
Work will be performed in Quantico, VA (81%); Albany, GA (13%); Camp Lejeune, NC (3%); and Camp Pendleton, CA. (3%). Additionally, to accommodate logistics management and training issues, on-site support at Marine Corps Logistics Base, Albany, GA, and other CONUS locations is required throughout the contract duration to support handling of logistics and training requirements in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the expected triple increase in assets. .
Sept 28/06: Insight Technology in Londonderry, NH, received a $9.7 million firm-fixed price contract modification. This contract action is required to assemble and deliver 145 Block I Panoramic Night Vision Goggles, 1,112 snap-on diaper assemblies, and 16 ANV-126-210 adapter kits. At this time, $7.3 million has been obligated. This work will be complete by April 2008. Headquarters Aeronautical Systems Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH manages the contract (FA8607-04-C-2752/P00011).
Sept 15/05: The US Army Contracting Agency at White Sands Missile Range, NM issued $3.24 billion in contracts to Northrop Grumman in Garland, TX, and ITT Industries in Roanoke, VA for “Omnibus VII enhanced third generation image intensifier ground night vision devices and spare image intensifier tubes.” The US Army and US Marine Corps are using 1 omnibus contract to purchase the following night-vision devices: AN/PVS-14 monocular, AN/PVS-7D binocular, MX-10130/UV image intensifier tubes, and MX-11769/UV image intensifier tubes.
Northrop Grumman received a $1.85 billion contract (W9124Q-05-D-0823), and the company will performed the work in Garland, TX (60%), and Tempe, AZ (40%). ITT received a $1.39 billion contract (W9124Q-05-D-0821), and the company will perform the work in Roanoke, VA.
March 31/04: BAE Systems won a 5-year contract from the US Army’s Communication and Electronics Command (CECOM) to supply a family of next-generation thermal weapon sights for soldiers. The base contract is worth $111 million, and could be valued at more than $250 million if all options are exercised.
- DID – ENVG-III/ FWS-I: Point and Shoot Night Vision. The next step in soldier night vision and weapon sights, awarded in May 2014.
- US Army Research, Development and Engineering Command – Night Vision & Electronic Sensors Directorate
- GlobalSecurity.org – Night Vision Goggles
- Wikipedia – Night vision device
- HowStuffWorks.com – How Night Vision Works
- ITT – Night Vision website.
- Special Operations Technology magazine (November/December 2009) – Clip on Night Vision.
- National Defense (October 2009) – Future Night Vision Devices: More than Just Goggles.
- Army Times (Sept 2/09) – Army boosts buy of new night-vision goggle.
- Air Force News (April 26/05) – Airmen receive panoramic night-vision goggles.
For night vision device limitations, see the following articles by Chris Johnson at the University of Glasgow, Scotland.
- The Role of Night Vision Equipment in Military Incidents and Accidents [PDF].
- The Operational Strengths and Weaknesses of Military Night Vision Equipment [PDF].