Development through Military History into Modern Daily Use.
By: Vikas Kumar Sinha
Night vision technology has shaped history.
Pre 1940’s: Flares and spot lights were used
for operations at night.
Due to the nature of these early night vision
devices (NVD), they gave away tactical
Military scientists began to think of ways to
improve night vision to gain a strategic
A tank from
World War II
equipped with a
search light used
for night combat.
The first night vision devices (NVD) were
created during WWII.
Functioned by placing an infrared filter
over a searchlight.
Fighters would use special binoculars to see
using the light from the searchlights.
Many problems came from this night vision
Why do NVD
in hues of
The original designers of NVD
d an obsession with the color.
B)The actual first inventors of
NVD were little green aliens.
C) NVD use green because it
allows for more defined
The screen was purposefully colored
green due to the scientific fact that the
human eye can differentiate more
shades of green that any other color.
There were many disadvantages to using
the searchlights and flares.
The actual searchlight was massive and had
to be mounted on a truck or tank.
Both the Allies and Nazi’s had this
technology, so they each could see the
The images created were streaky and
The acceleration of electrons cut the life of
the image intensification tube, which was
the most important and expensive part of
the NVD, very short.
Military scientists began planning a revised
Post WWII NVD technology focused on the
ability to see without creating additional
During this time period the first
“Generation” of NVD began using
intensified natural lighting.
Military scientists created a two-stage
cascade image tube.
This tube intensified the natural lighting
and created a superior image for the
The power of Generation 1 NVD was put to
the test in the Vietnam War.
use in the
A) Star-Tron Scopes
B) Moon Beams
C) Space Goggles
Star-Tron Scopes was the common name
given to the NVD in Vietnam.
There were still many problems military
scientists wanted to work on.
Star Tron Scopes intensification tubes were
as heavy as the rifles they were mounted
They were not sensitive enough to give
clear images in anything less than full
The NVD emitted a whiney noise.
They would shut down if they were
exposed to a sudden burst of bright light.
There were two major developments in
NVD technology after their test in Vietnam.
The first was a new micro-channel plate
(MPC) that was light weight, and more
effective at focusing light into clear images.
The second major development was the
invention of thermal imagining.
Thermal imaging allowed for NV even
through low natural lighted conditions.
It also allowed for NV through smoky,
dusty, and foggy conditions.
These thermal imagers were expensive, so
in 1973 scientists created a common
module that made it less expensive, and
more ideal for military use.
The generation 2 NVD were first put to the
test by US forces in the early 1990’s during
Operation Desert Storm in Kuwait.
The dark nights and harsh dusty conditions
were perfect for implementing the new
The currently generations of NVS are
generations 3 and 4.
Generation 3 is much like generation 2
except for it has a substantially longer life,
as well as more defined images.
Generation 4 has less noise than generation
3, however it has shorter life.
Here is a chart comparing the life in hours
of the intensification tube for generations
Generation 1 Generation 2 Generation 3
2,000 hours 2,500- 4,000 hours 10,000 hours
Which of the 4
NVD is the
used by the
B) Generation 2
C) Generation 3
D) Generation 4
C) Generation 3
U.S. forces use generation 3
because despite its slightly less
clear image, and slightly more
noisy design compared to
generation 4, it has a longer
life in hours which is more
important when all things are
Development of NVD up until the 1980’s
was completely focused around military
In the 80’s, companies in the US and Europe
took NVT and found ways to improve
everyday civilian life.
There are many practical everyday uses for
NVD, some of which are:
Common applications for night vision include:
· Wildlife observation
In conclusion I believe that is wonderful
how something originally designed for
destruction, can now help people on an
Personally, NVD have saved my brother-in-
law from harm in his job through NVD
This is truly amazing technology.