Anyone who’s ever worn a pair of standard issue U.S. military night vision goggles will tell you that while they offer the ability to see in the dark, there’s more to seeing than simply increasing the visible light in your field of view. Traditional monocular night vision goggles have long come with a number of trade-offs, including a lack of depth perception and peripheral vision, both things a war-fighter might appreciate having during a low-light combat engagement.

It’s with these limitations in mind that the U.S. Army is poised to begin fielding its new advanced night vision goggles, which feature not only improved low-light performance, but better vision capabilities across a wide swath of potential combat environments. The new Enhanced Night Vision Goggles – Binocular (ENVG-B) come with dual-tubed binoculars, rather than the old monocular setup, granting the user greater situational awareness and depth perception. The white phosphorous tubes also provide greater image resolution than the old green glow we’ve come to expect from night vision goggles.

The ENVG-B also boasts greatly improved thermal capabilities, granting the wearer better vision in other difficult-to-see environments like heavy dust, fog, or smoke. All of this, of course, would probably get a soldier’s heart pumping a bit, but what may be the most forward-reaching advancement to take hold in the rollout of the ENVG-B systems is the ability to wirelessly link with another new piece of Army kit, the Family of Weapon Sights-Individual (FWS-I).

US Army's new night vision goggles can link to rifle sights to fire around corners
Photo provided by L3

In layman’s terms, that means these new night vision goggles can wirelessly link to the optics on a soldier’s rifle, allowing greater hip firing accuracy if the soldier decided to revert back to fighting wars the way they were depicted in 80s action movies. In a more practical sense, this new tech would allow soldiers the capability to fire their weapons from behind cover or around corners using what is effectively a picture-in-picture visual.

“(Rapid Target Acquisition) enables soldiers to detect, recognize and engage targets accurately from any carry position and with significantly reduced exposure to enemy fire,” the Army states.

These optics also provide the ability for data linked augmented reality, meaning soldiers can use the new goggles for simulated training environments. While that technology isn’t necessarily new, this would allow soldiers to train in these simulated environments wearing the same gear they would wear during a combat deployment, adding to the realism and helping soldiers acclimate to using the new goggles.

“It is better than anything I’ve experienced in my Army career,” Lt. Gen. James Richardson, deputy commander of Army Futures Command, recently told Congress. He went on to say that Rangers had quickly “gone from marksman to expert” with these new night vision goggles on.

The Army expects the first new ENVG-B systems to deploy to South Korea in the fall with an armored brigade combat team.