Warplanes: France Gets Night Sight For Its Helicopters


November 26, 2009: The French Army is buying 1,500 HELIE (HElicopter Light Intensifier Equipment) night vision goggles (NVGs). The binocular goggles have the highest current level of light intensification and weigh less than a kilogram (2.2 pounds). Systems like HELIE give pilots over view of objects a kilometer or more away. The army is also equipping its ground forces with NVGs similar to the HELIE. Each of these modern NVGs cost about $4,000.

Ground troops are increasingly using NVGs that combine light enhancement (the "star light scope") technology (which is all that pilots require) with thermal imaging (showing a picture via heat differences). The combo NVGs enable a soldier to spot man sized objects out to about 300 meters. The closer the object is, the more accurately it can be identified. The thermal imager is most useful in places where there is no star (or moon) light to enhance (like inside buildings or caves). The combo NVGs cost about $10,000 each.



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