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he original version of this project was to improve dismounted
soldiers’ day and night vision capabilities when operating under
adverse conditions - such as in jungle and open conditions – and
to detect hostile forces by using a range of complementary and
mainly electro-optical equipment. The products adopted for
NINOX included soldier-carried Image Intensified devices, thermal imagers
and microwave radars, the latter two tripod or vehicle mounted. NINOX also
included unmanned perimeter surveillance equipment.
The program was introduced during the period when many countries were
beginning to battle with the problem of improving soldiers’ sur vivability in the
field, through the addition of new sensors without extra weight. Apart from
that NINOX was confronted with the simple fact that NFE technology was
leapfrogging its application.
The Australian LAND 125, Integrated Soldier System (ISS), the British Future
Infantry Soldier Technology (FIST) and the US Army’s Future Force Warrior (FFW)
are part of a larger Future Combat Systems (FSC) projects that are typical examples
of the adoption of NFE. Other capable nations such as Germany and France have
similar approaches. To date, none of the three programs mentioned have reached
maturity and they use a multi-phased methodology that allows for technology
insertion. For example, the US Army’s FSC has been forecast to reach product
maturity with its “Cognitive Technology Threat Warning System”, only in 2032.
In assessing the needs of the NINOX NFE Replacement, LAND 125 needs to
• Night Vision system performance is significantly affected by the operational
environment in which it is used. In a tropical environment with adverse
conditions the operational range of Image Intensifier systems will be
reduced, in some cases to zero, but generally not so with thermal imaging
systems unless thick fog is also present. In Savannah vegetation and desert
topography, system performance will be optimal.
• It cannot be assumed at any time that a hostile force will be less well
equipped than own force as many of these devices have been copied and
• The growth in capability of small hand and rail–launched UAVs, fitted with
thermal imaging equipment, radar and real-time data streaming, is likely
to provide more reliable and safer 24/7 surveillance than ground systems,
particularly the ease with which the data products (video and location) can
be widely shared using radio bearers within a larger force.
• There is a clear limit to the mass and size of vision aids and other equipment
that soldiers are able to carry and use effectively. The US Army is pursuing the
development of powered exo-skeletons that soldiers wear to improve their
mobility in the environment.
IMAGE INTENSIFIED (I2) SYSTEMS
Currently, a typical I2 device provides usable imagery under the following
• Starlight: man-sized target at a range of 100m, vehicle at 500m
• Moonlight : man-sized target at a range of 300m
I2 systems are now widely used in hand-held, helmet-mounted and weapon-
mounted configurations. Their small size, low mass, low energy passive
operation, the integration of the produced imagery in the overall “system” and
relatively low cost are attractive features.
Examples of current NV equipment using the latest GEN3/4 I2 tubes are:
• AN/AVS-6, Aviator Night Vision Imaging System (ANVIS). Although it is
not a foot soldier device ANVIS is one of the most advanced and successful
lightweight I2 NV devices produced to date. It was specifically developed
for land surveillance by helicopter pilots flying at an altitude of 200 feet,
at speeds of 150kts and in overcast starlight light levels. Acquired vision is
provided by a binocular device fitted into to the pilot’s helmet. Produced by
ITT and the then Litton Systems during the early ‘90s, the ANVIS has been
progressively updated in all aspects of its design.
• Enhanced NV Goggle (ENVG ) AN/PSQ-20. This device, developed by
ITT, combines image intensification and infrared illumination in a single
soldier portable unit. The IR and I2 components have a common boresight
so that the I2 device detects the thermal radiation from the area of interest.
LAND 53 NINOX
RAAF C-130 pilot using NVG.
9/29/2011 12:38:39 PM
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