Night Vision

History


IDF NVG history began in the early 1980’s with the introduction of the AN/PVS-5, a Gen II, dual tube design known in the IDF as “Shfanfan”. In the early 1990’s the AN/PVS-5 was disbanded and replaced by the AN/PVS-7, a Gen III, single tube design, known in the IDF as “Achbar”. In the mid 1990’s, the ITL Mini N/SEAS, a Gen III, monocular design, known in the IDF as “Shfanfan Had Eini” (or “SHCAHA” in short) became the IDF standard issue monocular NVD. In the late 1990’s the AN/PVS-23, a Gen III, dual tube design, known in the IDF as “Adi” entered service, but due to its expensive dual tubes design is used primarily by SF units.

Manufactures


Over the years the IDF has bought night vision gear from a variety of Israeli and American makers, some of which has undergone a major consolidation process since – in 1995 Varo was acquired by Litton Industries, which in 2001 was acquired by Northrop Grumman and subsequently integrated into its Electro-Optical Systems (EOS) division. Finally, in 2008 Northrop Northrop Grumman EOS division was sold to L-3 Communications. ITT is also a key American supplier.

The primary Israeli manufactures of night visions are Elbit (which acquired ITL) and Meprolight (which acquired New Noga Light). Both Elbit and Meprolight build night vision gear using U.S. or European made image intensifiers tubes. With the Israeli makers ongoing introduction of modern optics, it is likely that in the future their market share in the IDF will increase.

Another key development is the Israeli players’ headways in uncooled thermal NVG and monocular NVD, with all Israeli players introducing such advanced models in 2008:

  • ITL Coyote - thermal goggles and monocular

  • New Noga Light NLT - thermal goggles

Thermal NVG: left ITL Coyote, right: New Noga Light NLT.

Status


The IDF has three primary standard issue NVG optics:

  • AN/PVS-7 - a Gen III, single tube NVG, known in the IDF as “Achbar”.

  • AN/PVS-23 - a Gen III, dual tube NVG, known in the IDF as “Adi”.

  • Mini N/SEAS - a Gen III, monocular NVD, known in the IDF as “Shfanfan Had Eini” (or “SHCAHA” in short).

No major changes are expected in the IDF night vision gear in the near future. Instead, there will be incremental improvements in currently issued models, featuring increased performance with lighter and more compact designs. Thermal night vision will likely see limited distribution once future economy of scale and technological advancement lead to lower purchase prices.

YAMAM operator during training seen here armed with a Mini Uzi SMG fitted with a rubber buttstock a handgun in a thigh holster. The operator helmet is fitted with a night vision adapter. Note the black pouch on the operator right hand, which house tools such as blades, cutters and electric equipment to be used for EOD and for picking locks and alarms.

IDF SF operators breaching a door during training at the Counter Terror School. Left operator is breaching the door using an hydraulic power tool, right operator provides cover and is armed with a M4 Commando fitted with a Trijicon ACOG 4x32, a stock, a forward grip and an AN/PEQ-14. Note left operator's helmet fitted with an ITL Mini N/SEAS adapter, and right operator's helmet fitted with an AN/PVS-23 adapter. Also note Oakley protective eyewear (photos: IDF).

The Israeli Defense Minister, Moshe Ya'alon, speaking to Shayetet 13 operator during a visit to the unit. The operator is armed with a suppressed weapon and wearing a NVG head harness (photos: Israeli MOD).

Optics Guide