Weapons and Kit

'A Step Change': The Military's New Night Vision Goggles Providing 'Crisp Clear' Images

An Army officer said the new goggles will allow troops to to "fight further, faster and smarter".

Forces News has got an early look at new night vision goggles (NVGs) that will be issued to British troops next year.

The XACT nv33 goggles are already in use with the German and Israeli militaries, and the British Army will receive a version with a black and white/slightly blue display, rather than the traditional black and green.

The kit is being provided by Instro Precision, based in Kent.

Chris Fisher, Instro Precision’s Account and Programme Manager, told Forces News the goggles are a "massive improvement".

As a former Royal Lancer officer and Afghanistan veteran, Mr Fisher has first-hand experience of using the devices on operations.

"The crisp clear image [of the nv33] really gives you a good visibility and [helps] identify targets and potential threats," he said.

"You could use this for a good couple of days out on operations and not have to worry about changing batteries or carrying extra kit," he said.

"I know it's only a battery, which doesn’t weigh necessarily a lot, but from my experience, the fewer bits of equipment you need to carry, the better."

The binocular night vision goggles have a 24-hour battery life and can be fitted with an infrared thermal imager.

Lieutenant Colonel Mike Baxter, S01 for Light and Medium Forces, said the nv33  marks a "step change" in capability. 

"Technologies such as these enable our soldiers to fight further, faster and smarter."

Analysis from technology reporter Simon Newton

Walking into Instro Precision’s factory in Kent, you realise how much kit the small firm makes for the British Armed Forces.

The company employs 80 people, with many former military personnel.

Displays showcase the optical equipment the company has made since being founded in the 1960s, with a framed picture of Princess Diana looking through one of their devices during a visit in the 1980s taking pride of place.

Earlier this year Instro’s parent company, Elbit Systems UK, was awarded an £11.5m contract by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) to supply new NVGs for the UK Armed Forces. 

The nv33 has a 24-hour battery life, and a tilt switch that puts them into sleep mode when they are flipped up. 

While traditional night vision systems show a green image, the nv33 has a black and white, or slightly blue, display – a change requested by the Army, I’m told.

The set we were shown has a brown body and eye cups, while the version the British Army will receive will be all black. 

The new sights can also be fitted with a clip-on infrared thermal imager for situations with no light.

The MOD contract is initially for 18 months, with the option to extend for up to five years.

They are expected to be in use in the field from January 2022.