Night Vision and Thermal Systems

Tactical night vision and the Civilian Involvement

Night vision is no longer exclusively used in military affairs. Since 10 years ago, civilians can also get a set of night vision devices for their own surveillance needs. Tactical night vision was first used in World War II, but did not get widespread until the Vietnam War. They were originally designed for use by fighter pilots. These devices are highly favored for their exceptional ability to amplify light and make seeing in total darkness possible.

Night vision technology comes in three major forms: goggles, weapon sights and surveillance cameras. This military technology has greatly evolved since its inception and tactical night vision devices have seen substantial improvements in both performance and form. Since decades ago, this type of military devices has advanced across several generations of night vision equipment, each more superbly built than the previous. Earliest models could amplify light only up to a thousand times, whereas, the most recent models today have the ability of light amplification of about or more than 50,000 times!

Night vision technology was developed as a means of seeing without being seen, the very concept that gave way to the development of various tactical night vision devices that enable the military to sight their enemies in the dark. These devices process very low light levels in order to make seeing at night possible. They work on ultraviolet and/or near-IR (infrared) light bands. While originally intended for tactical use alone—in missions involving Special Forces, secret services, military aviation and the like—old models of night vision devices eventually found their way into the commercial market. Civilians who benefit from the use of nigh vision devices or NVD are hunters, nature observers, security companies, and marine crew members among others.

Military Tactical Gear

Military Tactical Gear

The nigh vision devices made available to civilians have been known as ‘generation zero equipment’. This does not necessarily mean they are wonky and work any less efficiently than the tactical night vision used in the military. Nigh vision devices for civilians utilize an active night-vision system as opposed to the passive night-vision system used in tactical combat.

Active night-vision system means that a beam of IR or infrared has to be shone on the target in order to create an infrared image of it in the dark. While this beam of IR remains invisible to the naked eye, somebody else—presumably an enemy—who is also wearing a night vision devise can see this beam clearly and take it as a beacon to the other man’s location. In the heat of a night-time military combat, soldiers wearing generation zero models of tactical night vision equipment would be sitting ducks.

This is the reason why night vision devices that employ the use of active night-vision system are better off used in civilian affairs. Security cameras and other non-military night vision devices have built-in IR Illuminators that shine a beam of near-infrared light on objects in the dark, reflecting off of it back to the night-vision lens to produce an image. And since these devices make use of higher levels of IR than tactical night vision equipment, the images they produce are usually higher in resolution as well.

Categorised as: Night Vision

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