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C4iSR: Land

USMC rifle squads to receive new night vision devices

24 January 2019
Marines took delivery of Squad Binocular Night Vision Goggles that are expected to enhance the infantry’s lethality and situational awareness in reduced visibility. Source: USMC photo by Joseph Neigh

The US Marine Corps (USMC) is upgrading the helmet-mounted night vision system used by its marine rifle squads to enhance lethality and situational awareness in reduced visibility.

The Marine Corps Systems Command (MCSC) accelerated the acquisition of about 1,300 Squad Binocular Night Vision Goggles (SBNVG), which combine two systems: a binocular night-vision device and an enhanced clip-on thermal imager.

"It's a little bit lighter than the current system and gives marines better depth perception when they are performing movements," Joe Blackstone, Optics team lead at MCSC, said in a statement.

The marines took delivery of the SBNVGs in December 2018 and began training with them at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. The new equipment training, or NET, teaches marines about the operations, characteristics, maintenance, and use of the new NVG devices, the MCSC said.

Additional fielding of the systems is planned for September 2019. While the devices may eventually make their way to the entire Ground Combat Element, for now the first priority is to give the systems to the marine rifle squads, programme officials said.

Using existing Defense Logistics Agency contracts, the marines employed a bridge capability to get the best equipment currently available in the commercial marketplace, Lieutenant Colonel Tim Hough, programme manager for infantry weapons, said in a statement.

"A final procurement solution will allow a larger pool of our industry partners to bid on the programme," he said.

The SBNVG acquisition strategy is to procure the devices incrementally and concurrently as the USMC looks toward future technologies.

"[In addition to] having the ability to not only use thermal optics with the SBNVG, the entire depth perception and speed that marines can operate in is going to significantly increase, as opposed to what they were able to do in the past," Corporal Zachary Zapata, a marine who participated in the training, said.

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