EYES WIDE OPEN: The ENVG-B uses fused white phosphor and thermal technologies. It delivers dual-tubes with improved image intensification, resolution and fused thermal overlay for unmatched visibility at night. (Photo by Courtney E. Bacon, PEO Soldier)
ENVG-B technology, integrated with Nett Warrior and FWS-I, takes night vision to a new level.
by Courtney E. Bacon
Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division spent three weeks this spring at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, learning and testing the Enhanced Night Vision Goggle – Binocular (ENVG-B) and its capabilities when integrated with Nett Warrior and the Family Weapon Sights – Individual (FWS-I) optic. The touchpoint test is a part of Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier’s foundational Soldier-centered design philosophy, which prioritizes end-user feedback and alignment at every step of technology development across the PEO. Individually, the ENVG-B, Nett Warrior and FWS-I enable capabilities beyond what is standard in today’s battlespace.
“It is leaps and bounds ahead of what we have right now and what our enemies have right now,” said Spc. Timmoy Ellis of the 2nd Battalion, 506 Infantry Regiment (2/506), 101st Airborne Division.
The ENVG-B is a helmet-mounted, dual-waveband goggle with industry-leading, fused white phosphor and thermal technologies. The night vision binocular delivers dual-tubes with improved image intensification, resolution and fused thermal overlay needed for unmatched visibility at night.
Sgt. William Williams of 2/506 was impressed by ENVG-B’s fused white phosphor and thermal technologies. “The white phosphor fused with the thermal overlay helps a lot as well,” he said. “The good thing about it is the mode that may work best for me may not work for one of my Soldiers. It has lots of settings to where they can adjust whether they want more white phosphor or more thermals, so in situations where you’re not getting a lot of ambient light, you can crank the thermal up and really see anything that picks up heat or puts off a heat signal.”
This ENVG-B capability set features more mode options, with the added ability to interface with Nett Warrior’s augmented reality tools and FWS-I optic that together deliver the situational awareness and lethality required for overmatch in any low-light environment.
“When you integrate those technologies, you’re going to increase situational awareness and also lethality at night,” said Maj. Bryan Kelso, assistant product manager for ENVG-B. “You get added capabilities such as rapid target acquisition, the ability to passively bring the weapon optic into the goggle, and also augmented reality when you bring in any of the icons displayed on the Soldier’s Nett Warrior end user device [EUD]. Those all feed straight into the ENVG-B goggles so the Soldiers don’t have to open up their EUD and they can keep moving and seeing those graphical icons.”
When the high-resolution ENVG-Bs are paired with a Nett Warrior device, the Android Tactical Assault Kit uses augmented reality applications to overlay map graphics and blue force tracking capabilities for increased situational awareness, communication and mission planning across day and night operations. Soldiers can also enter enemy icons on the EUD and share with others across their network.
“The Nett Warrior technology gives us a better understanding of what we’re getting ready to go do, and helps us battle plan and track each other,” said Williams.
The Nett Warrior feature not only enables increased situational awareness for the dismounted leader, but higher command and control as well. Nett Warrior is equipped with a dual channel multi-band radio, which enables communication and data sharing on a much larger scale.
“These systems help make communication to leadership easier because sometimes things get hectic out there and I might stumble up, but now even if I can’t talk at the moment I can hit a button and push everything that I have on my Nett Warrior out to my chain of command so they know exactly what I’ve got going on,” said Williams.
“It also reduces the potential for fratricide issues and can help units link up with each other, especially if they need to remain in radio silence,” added Kelso. “There is consistent visibility of where those blue forces are on the battlefield, and with its dynamic refresh rate feature, it refreshes more often based on the Soldier’s movement. When identifying either potential or known enemies, that information can also get fed through the unit and immediately populate the common operating picture to inform decision makers at a higher level.”
Not only does Nett Warrior deliver increased situational awareness and command-and-control communication, but it also enables more efficient mission planning and execution.
“Usually it takes hours or days to plan a mission once it comes down,” said Ellis. “Then we sit down and build a sand table and they say, ‘Hey, this is what we’re doing,’ so you don’t really get to see that 3D aspect of it. Now, once we know we have to hit this village, we can get it planned out pretty quickly, push the mission package out to the other guys, and knock that mission out.”
Mission planning with Nett Warrior is not only more efficient, but also more comprehensive. “When you mission plan with the Nett Warrior system, you can show that we’re hitting this building here and then you can plan out, since we’re hitting this building we can put up support by fire here, the weapons go here, and build from the same operating picture that everyone sees,” Ellis said. “It’s a really nice concept because everyone can see exactly the lay of the land and exactly what you’re doing in advance, before even going in.”
The FWS-I optic feeds the view of the weapon sight into the ENVG-B goggle display, allowing Soldiers to accurately identify and engage targets at increased ranges without physically being face to face and without the need for a laser.
“The FWS-I is mounted in front of the Soldier’s day optic on their M4, which allows you to passively engage targets in a multitude of ranges, out to the max effective range of the weapon,” said Kelso. “You can actually detect targets beyond 600 meters, so past where you could effectively engage with an M4.”
The increased range of the optic will allow targets to be identified at farther distances than ever before, and Rapid Target Acquisition technology provides the Soldier a passive solution to engage enemies. Picture in Picture and Full Weapon Sight modes allow the Soldier to accurately engage from behind cover and concealment.
“It’s pretty cool to be able to put my head down and engage targets without actually compromising cover,” said Williams. “I could stay completely behind cover, my eyes and head not even looking in the direction of the target, and utilize my FWS-I pumped into the ENVG-B and effectively engage my targets that way.”
Williams adds, “Another good thing about the FWS-I is that it eliminates us having to use a laser, which is a big thing because if we’re engaging with a near-peer because they will be able to tell where we’re at immediately if we’re using lasers.”
The integrated ENVG-B, Nett Warrior and FWS-I kit delivers the increased situational awareness, communication and lethality to save lives and ensure undeniable near peer overmatch.
“It has definitely grown on me,” said Williams. “At first I didn’t like it at all. I was like, just give me the NODs [night observation devices] and let’s go on, but it has grown on me and in certain situations, I think it can help save lives and win the fight.”
Nearly 5,000 ENVG-Bs have been fielded from the directed requirement thus far. Meanwhile, the ENVG-B program of record has entered low-rate production. Nett Warrior will be fielded to 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division in July 2021.
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COURTNEY E. BACON is a public affairs specialist providing PEO Soldier PM IVAS contract support on behalf of TMGL LLC. She has a B.S. in biology from George Mason University and is working toward a master’s degree in biodefense and international security from George Mason’s Schar School of Policy and Government. She previously worked in communications and public affairs for the Defense Information Systems Agency.