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Marines Begin Issuing New Night Vision Binoculars to Specialized Units

A Marine with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Force Reconnaissance Platoon waits on the flight deck before low-light fast rope training aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard, underway in the Pacific Ocean, June 25, 2017. (Photo: Marine Corps)
A Marine with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Force Reconnaissance Platoon waits on the flight deck before low-light fast rope training aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard, underway in the Pacific Ocean, June 25, 2017. (Photo: Marine Corps)

The Marine Corps is fielding new night vision binoculars equipped with thermal imaging that can help spot buried explosives.

Marine Corps Systems Command began fielding the Binocular Night Vision Goggle II, or BNVG II, this spring to Marine Corps force reconnaissance and explosive ordnance disposal units this spring, according to a news release published this week.

The helmet-mounted night vision binocular gives operators improved depth perception at night by using a white phosphor image Intensification technology to amplify ambient light. That feature is teamed with a modular thermal imaging overlay capability, the release states.

The BNVG II includes a Binocular Night Vision Device and a Clip-on Thermal Imager, or COTI, that attaches to the body of the BNVD with a bracket.

The night vision device amplifies the small amount of existing light emitted by stars, the moon's glow or other ambient light sources, and uses the light to clearly display objects in detail in very dark conditions, according to the release.

The COTI uses heat energy from the Marine's surroundings to add a thermal overlay which allows the image to be viewed more clearly. It can help identify potential "buried explosive devices, find hidden objects within foliated areas," the release states.

"The BNVG II helps Marines see enemies at a distance, and uses the COTI to detect ordnance or power sources for an explosive device that give off heat," Nia Cherry, program analyst with Infantry Weapons, said in the release. "The COTI intensifies Marines' ability to see anything in dark conditions, rain, fog, dust, smoke and through bushes that the legacy binoculars couldn't."

The night vision device component is a compact, lightweight, Generation-3 Dual Tube Night Vision Goggle that offers "superior situational awareness compared to the AN/PVS-15, utilized by Reconnaissance Marines, and the single-tube AN/PVS-14 Monocular Night Vision Device utilized throughout the rest of the Marine Corps," according to the release.

The U.S. Army plans to begin fielding dual-tubed, binocular-style night vision goggles this fall to infantry and other ground combat soldiers.

The Army announced in February that it has money in its fiscal 2019 budget to fund the effort to give soldiers greater depth perception than the current single-tubed Enhanced Night Vision Goggles and AN/PVS 14s.

The Marine Corps plans to have the BNVG II in "full operational capability" by the second quarter of fiscal 2019, the release states.

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.

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