Night Vision Devices are increasingly important to soldiers in combat – allowing them to see and providing a tactical advantage when surrounded by darkness.
Seeing in the Dark
Night Vision Devices – or NVDs – are optical instruments that enable people to see in the dark. Although Night Vision Devices are most often used by military soldiers and law enforcement officers, they are available for use by civilians in most countries. Hunters use Night Vision Devices to track and kill animals at night or in the early morning when lighting conditions are poor.
Current versions of Night Vision Devices are designed to adjust to changing lighting conditions and can be worn by soldiers in a variety of conditions. Modern versions of the equipment are much less expensive and more efficient than previous incarnations.
Developed during World War II
The first Night Vision Devices were created during World War II, but did not become widely used by the U.S. military until the Vietnam Conflict of the 1960s. The very first Night Vision Devices were used by German soldiers in 1939. Although crude by today’s standards, the early Night Vision Devices provided the German Army with a tactical advantage over Allied Forces and allowed soldiers to fight with greater ability in the dark.
Today, the U.S. Air Force is developing Panoramic Night Vision Goggles that will effectively double a soldier’s field of view to about 95 degrees. This is accomplished by using four 16 millimeter image intensifying tubes rather than the current two 18 millimeter tubes. These Panoramic Night Vision Goggles are now being used by air crews on AC-130 Gunships and A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft.