The U.S. Army is planning to field two new systems to dismounted Soldiers that will allow for more rapid acquisition of targets hidden by darkness, smoke or fog in the next 18 months, the service said in a release.
The Enhanced Night Vision Goggle III is expected to be fielded sometime between April and June of 2018 while Army hopes to field the Family of Weapons Sights – Individual, between January and March of 2019.
The FWS-I and ENVG III are unique in that the FWS-I, which would be mounted on a Soldier’s weapon, wirelessly transmits its sight picture to the ENVG III, which a Soldier wears on his helmet.
Additionally, the ENVG combines thermal imaging with more common night vision image intensification technology, which is recognizable by the green image it creates. Under starlight, targets may blend in with the background. But with the thermal capability overlaid on night vision, targets can’t hide in smoke or fog.
Soldiers wearing the ENVG III, which is mounted on their helmet, can choose to see both night-vision imagery and thermal imaging in their goggle. But they can also choose to see the image coming off the FWS-I that is mounted on their rifle.
The soon-to-field FWS-I is meant for the M4 and M16 rifles, and can mount on those rifles in front of day sights that have already been bore-sighted. Due to this, soldiers can pop the FWS-I onto and off of their rifle without having to remove their day sights first.
The FWS-I will also work with the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, the M141 Bunker Defeat Munition, and the M136 AT4 Light Anti-Tank Weapon.
Both the FWS-I and the ENVG III are currently in low-rate initial production. The Army hopes to buy 36,000 of the FWS-I, and about 64,000 of the ENVG III, Smith said. He also said that the new gear is targeted squarely at dismounted Soldiers with infantry brigade combat teams and special operations forces.