What Night Vision Goggles Does the Military Use?

Last Updated on March 9, 2021

What night vision goggles does the military use?

The essence of night vision devices started from the very beginning of the first device that was used in World War II. Yes, you heard right. The first-night vision device was invented and used in the war. Till then, the technology along with devices has developed a lot. As a result, we civilians have access to numerous night vision devices of various generations. And in modern warfare, night vision goggles play vital roles. Without it, the army can’t even think of the surprise attack or the surveillance at night. It helps the army to attack enemies in the night at the most possible vulnerable time.

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What Night Vision Goggles Does the Military Use?

What Night Vision Goggles Does the Military UseNight vision goggles are also used by hunters, shooters, night-time observers, etc. Since civilians don’t have to perform critical tasks like the military personnel at night, they don’t need the high-end NV goggles. And to be honest, military-grade night vision goggles are available for general people.

Night Vision Goggles for Civilians

Night vision technology has been evolving from the invention. Till then we have overall four generations of NVGs that are Gen 1, Gen 2, Gen 3, Gen 4. Among them, Gen 1 and Gen 2 are the available versions for general people like shooters, hunters, and hobbyists. And they are enough to fulfill to meet our necessity. With the generations, the performance goes high as well as the price. So Gen 1 devices are cheaper than Gen 2 devices. The same rule goes for all night vision devices like scopes, goggles, etc.

Each generation of night vision technology adapted the previous version and enhanced it with some better facilities. Thus the upgraded models provide the brightest and crisp image.

Night Vision Goggles for the Military

Since the military performs the most dangerous task of this world they simply need the best devices. So they use the latest version of night vision devices that are from Gen 3 and Gen 4. A similar thing happens in the case of night vision goggles. The Gen 3 NV goggles adapted the MCP (microchannel plate) from Gen 2 NV goggles and started using a photocathode made with gallium arsenide for better performance. AN/PVS-7, AN/NVS-7, AN/PVS-10, etc. are some of the examples of Gen 3 NV devices.

Gen 4 is also referred to as Gen 3+ devices. These devices are also called as enhanced night vision devices (ENVD). They are the extended versions of the Gen 3 devices. Various manufacturers are developing advanced night vision goggles. Some of them are working independently, others are working under US Army contracts. Famous US-based companies like BAE Systems, Leonardo DRS, L3, and Harris are currently developing enhanced night vision goggles (ENVG) under the contracts. They are trying to enhance the image intensification systems (I2), fuse IR with thermal, and so on. Hopefully, they will provide something great for the US Army.

AN/PSQ-20: The Latest Enhanced Night Vision Goggle (ENVG)

AN/PSQ-20 is developed for the US Army and fuses image intensifying and thermal imaging. Therefore, it can help the army see the darkest night with very little light. The two methods can be used individually and simultaneously. Before this device, the two methods were used separately. Till now, AN/PVS-7 and AN/PVS-14 are currently in use. And it is intended to replace them with the AN/PSQ-20. But there is a couple of challenges to meet successfully. AN/PSQ-20 is heavier and more expensive than currently used devices. A single unit of this device costs $18,000 and weighs almost 2 pounds.

Development Process

The development of the design started in August 2003. By mid-2006, the development testing of this ENVG started and completed in March 2007. Then it was the time for operational testing which started in June 2007.


The AN/PSQ-20 ENVG was first issued to be used by the US Army in April 2008. About 300 units were given to the 10th Mountain Division in February 2009. By July of 2015, the Army has bought about 9000 ENVG-1 and 16000 ENVG-II units.

Final Words

The military graded night vision goggles or other devices are not simply at the reach of general people. This is either because of a huge price or simply for security reasons. But we don’t have to regret that. We still have access for Gen 1 and Gen 2 devices which is adequate for our general purposes. Besides, you can also make NVGs on your own. The development of night vision goggles and devices is an ongoing process. With time, we will get more updated devices both for the military and the general people.

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