vision gives American troops a major advantage in combat, even when the enemy
sometimes has similar equipment. U.S. troops constantly train with their night
vision gear, and are remarkably effective pulling off raids and attacks in
complete darkness. This tends to put the enemy off balance, resulting in quick
American victory, with low casualties all around.
The U.S. Army and Marine Corps are buying (for $3.3 billion)
some 380,000 of a new generation of night vision equipment for individual
troops. Night vision devices, in use since the Vietnam war (when the size and
shape of a foot long telescope), have gotten smaller, lighter and more capable
and reliable. The third generation equipment buy includes 340,486 AN/PVS-14
night vision monocle (one eye) devices. These weigh about 11 ounces and cost
$2,570 each. In addition, 38,816 of the AN/PVS-7D night vision binocular units
are being bought. These weigh 1.5 pounds and cost $2,614 each. The buy includes
spare parts, particularly the image tubes, which wear out and have to be
replaced. Some 210,000 of these tubes are being bought, for about $1,900 each.
Both night vision units enable the user to identify a man sized target at 150
meters using only starlight. The battery powered night vision devices last about
15 hours per set of batteries. Large night vision gear can see farther and more
clearly, but the advantage of the AN/PVS-14 is that it's light enough, and cheap
enough, for every infantryman, or truck driver, to have one.