The Marine Corps is full speed ahead with the acquisition of a new helmet-mounted night vision system with one twist: grunts will no longer see green when they’re in the field.
Marine Corps Systems Command has awarded a $249 million contract to the Harris Corporation of Virginia to furnish infantry Marines with 14,000 Squad Binocular Night Vision Goggle (SBNVG) systems, MARCORSYSCOM announced on Tuesday.
A lightweight, helmet-mounted replacement for the standard-issues Army/Navy Portable Visual Search (AN/PVS-15) monoculars, the SBNVG uses white phosphor image intensifier tubes rather than traditional milspec tubes, a departure from the ubiquitous yellowish-green of conventional night vision
U.S. Marines with the Aviation Combat Element, Marine Rotational Force – Darwin, compare green (left) and white phosphor (right) night vision goggles during professional military education, RAAF Base Darwin, Australia, June 18, 2019(U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Kealii De Los Santos)
“The use of white phosphor provides a greater capability to see at night with more clarity, giving Marines enhanced situational awareness,” infantry weapons program manager Lt. Col. Tim Hough said in the MARCORSYSCOM statement.
The SBNVG also “consists of a binocular image intensifier night vision goggle, with a modular uncooled thermal imaging sensor, and associated external power supply and helmet mounting system,” according to the original MARCORSYSCOM request for proposals published in November 2018.
The Corps is pushing hard to dole out new night vision gear to infantry Marines. In January, MARCORSYSCOM accelerated the acquisition of about 1,300 SBNVG systems using existing Defense Logistics Agency contracts.
“We made the investment to procure the 1,300 systems and fielded them to two infantry battalion, so we already had a good, robust understanding of the technology we were chasing,” MARCORSYSCOM combat optic team lead Roberto Gonzalez said in a statement. “That allowed us to quickly get through the source selection process [for this contract].”
This is the Corps’s second batch of new night vision goggles in just over a year. In June 2018, the Corps began fielding the Binocular Night Vision Goggle II (BNVG II) to Force Reconnaissance and Explosive Ordnance Disposal Marines with the goal of achieving full operational capacity by spring 2019.
MARCORSYSCOM plans on first fielding the SBNVG to infantry units starting in the spring of 2020.