SOF - Special Operations

Hundreds of night vision devices headed to German Special Forces

1st November 2019 - 12:00 GMT | by Andrew White in London

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German special operations forces are due to receive an additional order of Image Intensification (I2) Ground Panoramic Night Vision Goggles (GPNVGs), Shephard has been informed.

Company officials at L3 Harris Technologies, the manufacturer of the GPNVG, confirmed that German distributor IEA Mil-Optics would be supplying ‘hundreds’ of units to the German Armed Forces over an undisclosed timeframe.

Defence sources confirmed to Shephard that deliveries will be made to the German Army’s Special Operations Command or Kommando Spezialkräfte (KSK) as well as the navy’s Kampfshcwimmer (KSM) units. The KSK measures approximately 1,300 personnel based at the Graf Zeppelin Barracks in Calw.

KSK operators, as well as KSM special operations naval commandos, already operate an undisclosed number of GPNVGs which are designed to provide personnel with a wider field of view (FOV) of 97 degrees in comparison to legacy binocular and monocular night vision devices which measure less than 50 degrees. Such a solution enables greater situation awareness and target acquisition during urban operations in particular.

According to an official statement from IEA Mil-Optics, the 3rd Generation GPNVGs (which comprise a series of four interconnected I2 tubes) will feature the White Phosphor as opposed to legacy Green Phosphor sight pictures which provide greater clarity when working in low and zero light conditions.

‘GPNVGs come very close to the natural human FOV of approximately 120 degrees, meaning lateral head movement is reduced and objects or persons can be detected much faster. The increased vision at night considerably improves the soldier's safety,’ the statement described.

Defence sources suggested to Shephard that GPNVGs will support the full spectrum of special operations conducted by KSK and KSM operators, including direct action, special reconnaissance, military assistance as well as counter-terrorism missions.

Globally, special operations forces continue to procure the GPNVGs with existing users including units in France, the Netherlands, UK and most recently, Republic of Korea which has purchased a total of 1,000 units between a pair of contracts signed in December 2018 and August 2019.

At the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC) in Tampa, Florida on 21 May, L3 Technologies unveiled its latest variant of the GPNVG which included an InfraRed (IR) capability which can be fused into a unified sight picture with the I2 FOV.

The Fused-GPNVG, also known as the F-Pano, has also been designed with an Augmented Reality capability in addition to wireless connectivity to further extend the ‘situation awareness, mobility, targeting and lethality’ of special operations forces.

The F-Pano is currently undertaking evaluation and testing with an undisclosed Tier 1 special mission unit within the US Special Operations Command, defence sources confirmed to Shephard.

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