New Headset to Merge Night Vision, Thermal Imaging


The U.S. subsidiary of British defense giant BAE Systems Plc is developing a new headset that merges night vision and thermal imaging.

Soldiers typically wear night-vision goggles to see their surroundings in the dark, but use thermal sights mounted on their rifles to engage targets. Soon, they’ll be able to use one device for both tasks, the company announced in a release on Monday.

“On today’s battlefield, this slower approach, which is often further hampered by heavy smoke or bad weather, compromises soldiers’ safety and can reduce mission effectiveness,” it states. “By integrating night vision and thermal targeting capabilities into one sight displayed on the soldiers’ goggles, BAE Systems’ new solution allows troops to more easily acquire targets and engage faster.”

The company said it worked with the U.S Army Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate to develop the technology. It beat several unnamed competitors for the contract, which is valued at up to $434 million over five years.

BAE has received an initial award of $35 million for the program, known as the Enhanced Night Vision Goggle III and Family of Weapon Sight-Individual. It plans to build the headsets at its new factory in Hudson, New Hampshire.

It wasn’t immediately clear how much the product will cost. Initial production of the night vision will begin this summer, while the weapon sight is currently in development and will enter production next year, according to Paul Roberts, a spokesman for BAE’s electronic systems unit.

The headset may be fielded to soldiers downrange beginning in late fiscal 2016 or early fiscal 2017, Roberts said in an e-mail.

The technology relies on a wireless video interface to transfer imagery from the sight to the goggle, according to the release. This feature offers a number of advantages, such as eliminating the need for aiming lasers, a shorter engagement time, increased maneuverability and extended target acquisition range, it stated.

The product is the latest example of companies coming to market with optical systems designed to stream more data and information to shooters.

Earlier this year, smart rifle-maker TrackingPoint Inc. teamed with Recon Instruments to sync imagery from its high-tech scope system directly into protective glasses.

The Austin, Texas-based company showed off the product on in January at a range north of Las Vegas as part of SHOT Show, the biggest small arms show in the world. The glasses weren’t functional and only displayed static images. But officials said the technology will be ready for release this year, possibly in the spring.

The smart-rifle scope includes a Linux-powered computer with sensors that collect imagery and ballistic data such as atmospheric conditions, cant, inclination, even the slight shift of the Earth’s rotation known as the Coriolis effect. Because the computer is wireless-enabled, information can be streamed to a laptop, smart phone or tablet computer for spotting or to share intelligence.

This article was updated to include additional details about production and potential deployment beginning in the sixth paragraph.

About the Author

Brendan McGarry
Brendan McGarry is the managing editor of He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.
  • Ray

    Doom on you Islamists insurgents “Bop Bop”!

    • Virgil Williams

      Imagine a pair of sun glasses that has night vision technology, thermo imaging technology, can be integrated and controlled through a smart watch in battle field or can be controlled by switches on the glasses, these glasses would have a ability to link with allied forces, and lock on target. With a integrated camera that can be put on a scope to maximize the target and to give the wearer the soldier ability to make a quick decisions, All targets information would be shared with near by allied soldiers, ground and air, and also to up link action cam to give commander a sense of Wha the soldier see to make quick decision. Military smart wear technology is the wave of the future.

  • blight_

    Sensor fusion all over again.

  • Edward

    Last thing we need more computers on top of you.

    • RunsWithScissors

      Yes, lets go back to the tried and true club and rock. The last thing we need is advancements in technology…all that will ever do for us is help us gain an advantage over the enemy through improved target identification. Yeah, that’s the last thing we need. [That was sarcasm]
      Development programs like this have heavy input from soldiers with current (emphasis on “current’) battlefield experience. Its a bit silly to poo-poo stuff like this from your armchair or breakfast table.

      • Von Vomit

        When we rely too much on technology, it becomes our Achilles heel.

        • Duddy

          Negative. We train without technology more than we do with it.

        • RunsWithScissors

          That is a statement that gives no practical direction. That is like saying that if we rely too much on our gun, then ammo supply becomes our Achilles heel. Of course if the thing that gives us tactical advantage goes away…. we lose a tactical advantage…, should we use our technology less….. it doesn’t make any sense.

          • Leon Suchorski

            When we run out of ammo, we use our bayonet, or whatever else is available. That was the way that we were trained. I don’t know about you, but a Marine always has options. We might even pick up an enemy rifle, and use that.

          • t1oracle

            When you’re nv/ir googles stop working you use your eyes. It’s no different. Also, no one carries a bayonet anymore. I don’t even think they’re allowed.

          • Drew

            I’m throwing the bs flag on that one. Sure it’s been a couple of years for me, but I was issued a bayonet even as a pogue attached to a grunt battalion.

          • t1oracle

            No one in my unit in Iraq in 2006 had them, and I remember being told that we can’t use them even if we buy our own.

        • t1oracle

          Firearms are technology. Should we stop using them for risk of them becoming an Achilles heel?

    • Duddy

      Idiotic comment. Saves lives and kills more bad guys

      • RunsWithScissors

        Well said.

  • sam

    Will this be available in the latest Call of Duty?

    • bart ninja

      yes… before it is issued to troops

    • Fatman

      You can ask Sam Fisher if you can borrow his.

    • RunsWithScissors

      Haha… Night vision with thermal imaging has been a stable of video games for years. It’s kind of cool (in my opinion) to see this technology being developed in the real world.

  • crackedlenses

    “technology relies on a wireless video interface to transfer imagery from the sight to the goggle”

    Sounds like a Smart-linked Optic (SLO). It’s about time.

    • blight_

      Wonder if it’s an commercial standard, such as Miracast, employing off-the-shelf peer to peer technology such as 802.11 WiFi Direct.

      “Wireless” is kind of vague. I imagine the system is also short ranged. Image transmission over WiFi Direct (like many screen mirroring commercial applications?)

    • misterrose

      Anybody worried about the enemy detecting the RF energy that a wireless interface will transmit?

      • blight_

        Depending on the range, it need not be high-powered. But if the enemy is jamming 802.11 or whatnot (or friendlies are jamming 802.11 or wide spectrum jamming for counter-IED, you would need a scheme ready to survive packet loss from signal disruption.

        • Stan

          how about a 4 foot long data cable?

          • blight_

            True, though having something with a easily detached cable (MagSafe?) so that if it snagged it would come apart without damaging the cord, and then be comparatively easy to reattach.

        • JohnnyRanger

          I need to find another defense forum. You guys are way too smart for me…802.11 huh???

          • blight_

            Commercial WiFi is to a standard specification called IEEE 802.11, with numerous sub-protocols for wireless a, b, g, n, ac; on 2.4 ghz, 5ghz or 60 ghz bands.

            There’s always propietary protocols, which may suit the military better.

  • Nick

    Isn’t this what Excelis was working on? Why is this new news?

  • Mastro63

    “The glasses weren’t functional and only displayed static images. But officials said the technology will be ready for release this year, possibly in the spring.”

    Hmm- OK- show me a working model

    • blight_

      Even if viz capability hasn’t been miniaturized enough to go onto glasses, they should bring a prototype to demonstrate that NV and IR have been integrated and can be seamlessly displayed on /something/. Jesus.

      Though Microsoft’s hololenses, or Google Glass’ prismatic displays suggest that small displays are possible…

  • Jim37F

    Um….I think BAE needs to Google the PSQ-20…aka the Enhanced Night Vision Goggle which is already making it’s way to the field with combined NVG and IR in one sight…..…

    • balais

      They are trying to find something lighter, as the PS20 is heavier than the PVS14.

  • Francis

    …will it have anti-jamming capabilities…??…just wondering !!!

  • Touko Akimoto

    executive order executions won’t need so many expensive drones now, to swiftly execute whoever gets annoying in any way, like whistle blowers, pesky journalists and their families, and government’s rivals from the lesser organized crime groups.

  • Fordownr

    How much will this beast weight?? Kpot and NODs are bad enough……

  • Shawn McFadden

    Long overdue improvement .

  • trading forex pasti untung

    Whyy viewers still make use of tto readd news papers when in this technological world alll is existing
    on web?

  • StevenR

    So wait , wireless communications ?
    isn’t this easily disrupted by the common radio jammer ?
    insurgents can build those from scraps