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Ground Panoramic Night Vision Goggle | GPNVG-18

Many US Special Operations Forces (SOF) operations happen under the cover of night. American's elite warriors employ various electronic equipment to let them see into the shadows. These include thermal imagers and image-intensifying night vision goggles (NVG).

The latter normally come in monocular or binocular versions. While they do their job fine, a drawback of these devices is that they offer a limited field of view (FOV). This limited FOV creates a 'tunnel vision' effect, and can create depth-perception problems, none of which are welcome when storming a compound in the dead of night.

In recent years, Tier 1 SOF, such as SEAL Team 6 (DEVGRU) and Delta Force, have employed an innovative set of NVGs called the Ground Panoramic Night Vision Goggles (GPNVG). Designed by L3 Warrior Systems, the GPNVG solves the limited FOV problem by using 4 tubes. While other NVGs use only 1 or 2 intensifier tubes, providing no more than a 45 degree field of view (FOV) to the wearer, the 4 tubes used by the GPNVG provide more than double that, providing a 97 degrees panorama. Wearing the GPNVG, the SOF operator has a similar FOV at night than during the day. Such a FOV is especially advantageous during CQB operations.

The GPNVG-18 is an off-shoot of a 4-tube NVG device design for military aviators. The 'G' stands for ground, referring to the unit's ruggedization for ground use. The goggles use 4 Gen3 18mm MX-10160 image intensifier tubes, of the type used in aviator goggles, arranged in an overlapping setup to provide the panoramic FOV. The tubes are mounted in a Wilcox L4 GSGM mount for attachment to a Crye AirFrame Helmet or ACH/MICH helmet. Power comes from a remote battery pack that is typically mounted on the rear of the helmet, which also acts as a counterweight to the goggle's weight of 27 ounces.

The GPNVG as worn. DEVGRU operators reportedly used the GPNVGs during Operation Neptune Spear, the mission that killed Osama Bin Laden.
image : copyright TNVC

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