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These Goggles Give Soldiers Night Vision and Thermal Imaging at the Same Time

Soldiers will be able to see targets through their weapon sight without actually raising it to their eyes.

During nocturnal operations or smog-filled days, visibility makes or breaks it for a soldier. That's why defence company BAE Systems has chosen to integrate night vision and thermal imaging into a pair of power goggles that will let soldiers better locate and identify targets.

Soldiers are currently using two different devices to perform this task. Whereas night vision goggles provide them with situational awareness by illuminating their surroundings, a weapon-mounted thermal imaging device allows them to detect and latch quickly onto targets. Switching between the two reduces speed and effectiveness in the battlefield. "These existing tools require a soldier to identify and acquire the target through the goggle system and then raise the weapon sight into his field of view to engage," explained BAE in a press statement. This slow approach can be further affected by bad weather conditions. So, to boost performance, BAE Systems has partnered with the US Army Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate—a research and development unit that develops sensor tech for the army—to integrate night vision and thermal imaging with a Rapid Target Acquisition (RTA) technology, which wirelessly sends images from the weapon sight to the goggles. The goggles have an inbuilt video interface, which syncs up with the weapon sight in real time so that both can be used simultaneously without the soldier actually having to raise the weapon sight to their eyes. When soldiers take aim, they normally rely on pinpointing their targets with lasers. According to BAE, this integrated goggle headset boosts military stealth by "eliminating the need for soldiers to rely on aiming lasers, so they are able to remain covert," and allows them to operate effectively in "all weather and lighting conditions." BAE Systems has been awarded a five-year contract up to $434 million by the US army, and production of these goggles is currently underway.

With DARPA's bullets that hone in on moving targets, and goggle wear like this, the US military gets one step closer to achieving the perfect shot every time.