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Jun 21, 2022 | 02:26 am 229 0

The role of night vision in military conflicts. Part II.


The role of night vision in military conflicts. Part II.

Modern warfare is, in a sense, an ephemeral and little-known concept. On the one hand, this has been talked about for a long time. Many countries even officially announce the development of new paradigms and algorithms for warfare. Military academies are also introducing officer training courses incorporating the new army philosophy. But, few people can draw a specific framework and theses that can fully describe the set of measures that can mean a "new modern war."

On the other hand, such a doctrine undoubtedly exists. It may not be described in a few words or sentences, but it is there, and it has already been tested and tested. The US Army was one of the first countries to recognize this need. Furthermore, we must pay tribute to our country's political and military leadership, which has always promptly and adequately assessed its mistakes. This inevitably led to the rapid implementation of measures that could correct shortcomings and open new horizons for innovation in the army.

Our approach, philosophy, and the values of all developed countries of the Western world, which are the undisputed locomotive of civilizational progress, have always had a priority value. Today, this value was the life of an ordinary citizen and a common soldier. This approach has always been different from the views of savage, cannibalistic, and barbarian regimes. The whole of modern history is impressive when you study the examples of warfare of countries that professed communist precepts. And they were simply autocracies with all the accompanying attributes. The first thing that comes to mind is the Soviet Union, which built all its victories during World War II on the tactics of throwing the corpses of its soldiers and civilians at the enemy. There are many examples of such sophisticated strategies. We can recall the forcing of the Dnieper, the attempt to annex independent Finland, and the monstrous blockade of Leningrad, organized by our forces. Almost the entire history of the USSR in WWII is the history of the destruction of its people and idiotic military decisions. Starting with the signing of the Non-Aggression Pact with Nazi Germany, according to which the communists became allies of the Third Reich, and ended with the camps and exiles of war invalids to deserted regions. Even outrageous in their cruelty, the Germans did not destroy their citizens.

The Korean War served as yet another proof that the communist war machine runs solely on the bodies and blood of its soldiers. During the same campaign, the whole world saw the actual guise of the pitiful marauder Marshal Zhukov, who went down in history as a bloodthirsty amateur who killed millions of Soviet citizens, took out echelons of looted things from captured Germany, and authorized the mass rape and murder of German women and German children. In Korea, this mediocre commander lost the war-nu, ruining many wards and losing all advantages. This barbaric philosophy was carefully kept and used by the communists and modern Russia everywhere: from the fiasco in Afghanistan to today's war in Ukraine, where the brave Ukrainians, who share the American and British patterns of contemporary warfare, gave the Russian troops hell on earth.

The modern paradigm of war.

It will be straightforward if you try to formulate the modern war paradigm in a few words. Remote war with the main task to save the lives of soldiers. These views are held by the vast majority of modern developed countries. And the United States is one of the main inspirers and ideologists for transforming the army from infantry battalions that attack the enemy under cover of tanks and combat vehicles into a high-tech organism, with the cost of soldier equipment more than 20 thousand dollars. Such an organism is provided with innovative technology that allows you to destroy the enemy, being many miles away from him. Infantry is needed only for clearing and support and is used in relatively safe areas of the operation.

This approach allowed to reduce the loss of personnel radically. The army of Ukraine, which is losing to the occupying troops numerically and in terms of the amount of equipment, today smashes the heirs of the bloody communists, outplaying the archaic barbarian army tactically and strategically in all directions. The Syrian campaign and, especially, the ongoing war for the independence of Ukraine is the best evidence of this.

The help of partners, and the most progressive in military terms, the United States and Britain, rich in traditions, is colossal and significant. And we are not only talking about the supply of unique weapons, like the NLAW and Javelin anti-tank portable systems. We mean the mentality. The instructors who trained the soldiers of Ukraine for eight years managed to integrate the modern vision of warfare. Of course, one should not forget the endless courage of the people of Ukraine, who destroyed more than 25 thousand soldiers of the invaders and seized more equipment than foreign partners supplied. After two months of the war, the Ukrainians had more tanks than before the vile invasion of the Russian occupying forces.

Of course, the ability and desire to learn and implement new postulates are necessary for success. In this regard, Ukraine is far from Afghanistan. That is why we consider the example of this bloody war in such detail. But this bulwark of freedom, fighting against the barbarian horde, demonstrates live how effective the modern paradigm can be in the hands of a motivated and skilled army. To illustrate, here are the statistics: out of 10 Javelins used, 9 hit the target.

The modern paradigm of war is not limited to weapons. Every detail is essential here: from high-quality military uniform material and tactical boot laces to modern night vision devices and thermal imagers. The complex interaction of various elements of the army's recruitment brings philosophy and strategy to life. And the result is victory with the maximum number of saved lives of their soldiers.

Otherwise, you get the Russian army - self-confident, untrained, wild, devoid of the rudiments of humanism, which can only steal household appliances, rape defenseless women and children, and more - die by the hundreds and thousands.

We have already talked about the emergence of the process of forming a new military philosophy and night vision systems as their essential factor in the article The role of night vision in military conflicts. Today we will talk about the modern period of this process. Part I.

Night time operations during the Korean War.

In 1939, a non-aggression pact was signed between the USSR and Nazi Germany. The secret addition to this document was the plan for the division of Poland and the division of spheres of influence in Europe. Two authoritarian, militarized states agreed to start a large-scale world war. The USSR, for 20 years, has shown itself as a backward country led by narrow-minded and bloodthirsty rulers, which nevertheless had the ambition to take over the world and spread the vicious communist ideology as far as possible. This lagging country industrialized at the cost of millions of starved Ukrainians that became the bulwark of the rise of the Nazi regime in Germany and the buffer zone that allowed Hitler to circumvent the restrictions imposed by the Treaty of Versailles. The Germans trained German tankers in their academies, and at their training grounds, they let the construction of equipment in their factories and supplied raw materials to the dictator. The logical conclusion of this act of love between two tyrants was the inglorious attack on Poland from two fronts and the communist expansion into proud Finland. What happened next, you know. Communists two years later became a victim of their meanness. The Germans attacked them only a couple of months after the next joint parade.

The question looks logical here: why did someone decide that the USSR is an adequate country, capable of living in peace with others and integrating into the civilized world? But, the allies, for some reason, believed in it. Although the bloody tyrant, Stalin did not mainly hide his plans to import communism worldwide. Even though the Russians were not going to pay for lend-lease, they were able to withstand the disastrous confrontation with the Axis countries. Even though no one even hid the euphoria from victory and the desire to fight again.

Korea was divided among the Allies in 1945 after the surrender of Japan. Five years later, everything became clear. Once again, the USSR decided to show its ugly face in 1950 on the territory of Korea. The section passed along the 38th parallel. Five years later, this bridgehead that the Russians used as the starting point for confrontation with the civilized world.

Both sides participating in the outbreak of the Cold War have already opened their trump cards. The presence of nuclear weapons was not a secret to anyone. But, at the same time, a clear demonstration of the incredible destructive power of these weapons of mass destruction, which the United States carried out in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, preempted even the communists from rash steps, for whom human life never meant too much. Therefore, this conflict was the first opportunity to test the lessons learned after WWII on both sides. As this war showed, not everyone learned the lessons. Bloody Marshal Zhukov, who oversaw the red army of North Korea, managed to orchestrate an epic failure for his army, despite a full range of advantages, from numerical superiority to primary initiative. This strange commander's basic paradigm of warfare also could not bring success. To fight by filling up the corpses of your soldiers - this method was archaic and ineffective even in ancient times. Therefore, he could not bring success in the Korean War either.

Especially against a trained opponent who knows how to learn from his own mistakes and others. We mean our country, which began large-scale upgrades in its weapons and tactics after the most terrible conflict in the history of humanity.

Innovations have also touched on such promising technologies as night vision and thermal imaging. During WWII, thanks to advanced German developments, the endless promise of such devices became apparent. Moreover, a country that would choose to neglect investment in this area would risk becoming completely vulnerable at night or in conditions of insufficient visibility. Moreover, the practical use by the Nazis of individual night vision scope proved the great future of this direction. The principle of operation of the technology was invented a long time ago. Therefore, the task was simplified a little - it was necessary to do everything the same, only more compact, smaller, and more reliable.

The US Army did not need to explain the importance of introducing devices based on NV technology. It should be noted that night vision manufacturer offered their versions of the NV sight at the end of the war. Thus, the M1 and M3 infrared night-sighting devices were provided to the Army for limited combat testing. They went down in history as "sniper scope" or "snooperscope" and exceeded all expectations.

To describe how powerful a breakthrough these devices were, let's turn to statistics. Two hundred devices were provided for use in battles on Okinawa. And, thanks to them, of all Japanese casualties eliminated by small arms, 30 percent were made with guns equipped with M1 and M3. These are impressive numbers! That is why these same devices were actively used in Korea. Moreover, it not only improved but also classic five-year-old sights.

During WWII, these devices were blind during lousy weather, and it was unrealistic to solve this problem then and, in general, today. But, at the same time, the field use of NVD on the Korean Peninsula made it possible to predict further development. In particular, it is here that the prototypes of helmet-mounted devices appear. It was they who became the prototype of night-vision goggles.

Night vision during Vietnam War.

From everything that we have said above and in our previous article, The role of night vision in military conflicts. Part I, leaves no ambiguous interpretations of the role of night vision technology in armed confrontations. Especially in the history of the late battles of WWII. The horizons that the devices built based on these systems opened did not just turn the tactics of warfare upside down. They made the night an ally of a more developed army soldier. And, in the world, there was not, and probably not, a more developed and trained army than in the United States.

That is why the United States opened the door to a new era. It happened in 1957 in the terrible and tragic war in Vietnam. The conflict itself, which claimed many lives of the Nation's best sons, is too heavy a subject. We will not discuss it in this article. But, we note that, in the best traditions of the peculiarities of the United States, we learned from this challenging military conflict, in which the communists again acted as an enemy, ardently supported by the ideological heirs of the German Nazis - the USSR. If you try to find some positive moments in the battles in the jungle, it certainly was the use of new gear and equipment.

Night vision also opened a new page in its development. The Korean War became the date of the entry of NV technology into a new iteration, or the date of the invention of NV Generation I.

The fact is that before, all the devices somehow remained at the level that today is classified under the Gen 0 marking. Today, the image that these sights produced can be surprising, and the question is: how could soldiers even use this? Moreover, you can assemble something similar to the sets sold in stores and on the Internet with your child. Nevertheless, their effectiveness was impressive. Remember only the actions of our army in Okinawa.

If you look at the specification of any night vision scope, you will see that an invariable part of it was an infrared source. It's all about the basics of the operation of devices that repeat the device of the pupil of nocturnal predators. Both in NVD and domestic cats, light is accumulated through the pupil or sensor, amplified many times, and already in this form, absorbed by the animal's brain or the device's operator. But, the prototypes were too weak, fragile, and unreliable. And they needed an enormous light output to provide an adequate image. Logically, using a visible light source means unmasking the observer for these purposes. And in general, with the same success, you can illuminate the battlefield with a searchlight or lighting projectiles. But IR illumination is another matter. Although some wild animals can identify it, it is indistinguishable to the naked eye. At the same time, science has developed rapidly, and it is not so difficult to create a device that generates IR light.

That was the breakthrough that the US Army made by patenting a design capable of amplifying weak light on its own. However, the image quality was poor. Differences in light and glare brought pain to the operator. And the devices themselves weighed a lot. For example, the AN/PVS-1 Starlight scope weighed 5 pounds and provided such an uneven display of light patterns that you could burn your eyes out by accidentally pointing the device at a car with its headlights on. But at the same time, the AN/PVS-1 Starlight scope and its counterparts AN/PVS-2 Starlight scope and PAS 6 Varo Metascope were simply irreplaceable. Especially in the inhospitable jungle, where everything is trying to kill you.

Night vision in the army from 1960-to 1990.

The previous period and the development of night vision technology developed rapidly, thanks mainly to the Radio Corporation of America (RCA). It was their merit that progress made it possible to create Generation I devices. As we already mentioned, their ability to accumulate natural light without the support of artificial IR light became a decisive aspect in the Vietnam conflict. It was this opportunity that became the basis for further development.

The apparent shortcomings of the first copies of the devices were also not a secret to anyone, including the creators. Incorrect light transmission and the incredible brightness of illuminated objects resulted from design flaws and imperfections in current technologies. The highly complicated the operator's work, but given the lack of such technologies from the enemy, these shortcomings were not fatal. Nevertheless, the main forces of scientists and engineers were thrown to solve these problems.

Soon, significant changes were made to the design, which made it possible to soften the ratio between noise and signal. Improved resolution, optics, and the unique SUPERGEN tube have dramatically improved the ergonomics and efficiency of the devices. These were no longer NVD of Gen I but the next iteration of devices, so these differences allowed them to be classified under a different type - Generation II. At the same time, a complete set of improvements and innovations did not yet allow us to single out a new kind of device, but it was too different from the standard. For such optics, the Gen II + classification was introduced. In the future, this practice will become generally accepted.

Since the beginning of the Vietnam War, the United States has been embroiled in many local conflicts. Both successful, like the Laotian Civil, and not very successful operations, such as the Lebanon crisis. The 60s began with a resounding failure at the Bay of Pigs Invasion. But at the same time, Dominican Civil War and Korean DMZ Conflict can be called a success. In all battles, advanced developments of American scientists were used, including night vision devices. Even where the army was not actively fighting, there were opportunities for field testing of the latest developments.

As a result, by 1980, night vision technology had reached the point where it was no longer subject to the existing classification, even in its expanded form. Thus, gunsmiths introduced the concept of "third generation." These were devices that retained some of the functional solutions of their predecessors and used the most relevant developments at that time. Today, third generation devices are the best choice for hunters and some military men. Still, at the same time, they were devices with many drawbacks, which were dictated by the imperfections of technology. For example, power consumption increased dramatically due to a system that raised the light gain to between 30,000 and 50,000. And the size and efficiency of the batteries did not correspond to the tasks set for them.

But, introducing the first devices of a new generation did not automatically mean reaching the peak of this iteration. Instead, on the contrary, engineers and NV manufacturers have a long way to go to improve and bring their brainchild to perfection.

One of the main problems of the previous samples was flare and incorrect display of resolution and contrast. And also an unbalanced collection of objects of observation that provoke flare. This problem was especially relevant for aviator's night-vision goggles, whose operators are forced to observe city lights while the devices are in operation. Professionals using appliances in the city also suffered from this effect.

To solve this problem, the ATG function was developed. This is a system that works in a permanent mode, reacting to external stimuli by quickly turning off and on the voltage. With ATG, the problem of dynamically changing light intensity has become irrelevant. This system attenuated the "temporary blindness" that an operator could experience from a flash of light. It also makes the work of pilots comfortable at night, especially at low altitudes.

Therefore, during the repeated tension in Korea, the US Army was already much better equipped during the Korean DMZ Conflict. Later, during the invasions of Lebanon and Grenada and the bombing of Libya, our soldiers used already improved instruments.

Well, Tanker War became the threshold of a new era in the development of NVD and the formation of the modern US military paradigm.

Night vision in modern times.

Our civilization stands on a solid foundation of paradoxes and mysteries. A vivid illustration of this thesis is that the rapid and confident pace of progress, which continued throughout the twentieth century, failed to destroy man's dark desires and impulses. Instead of consolidating the world's efforts and best minds around humanistic and innovative projects, progress has opened a new page in military conflicts.


The1990s began with a conflict that went down in history as the Gulf War. The prerequisites for a large-scale war in this region have been there for a long time. But, the situation reached its apogee after Iraq's perfidious and presumptuous attack on Kuwait. This aggression, provoked by Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, became such a flagrant violation of world order and law that a coalition of countries led by the United States decided to rebuff the presumptuous autocratic dictatorship.

In many ways, that invasion and subsequent annexation of Kuwait by Iraq was reminiscent of today's war that Nazi Russia unleashed against Ukraine. The Iraqi army looted, looted, raped women and children, and killed and tortured civilian men like Russian soldiers. The ugly attack could not go unnoticed by the world. Given the uselessness of the UN, the United States came out in defense of a weak country and sent its troops to expel the crazed army of crazy Hussein from the territory of a sovereign state.

In this military conflict, in which the United States took part together with coalition allies, some military experts and historians consider the moment of the baptism of fire of a new martial paradigm. In short, the US has shown an incredible ability to save the lives of its soldiers by applying the latest technologies and tactical options they have provided. Thus, our aircraft and artillery consistently and confidently destroyed all the heavy equipment of the Iraqis and suppressed the primary command posts. After that, methodical cleansing operations began with the use of military equipment. Everyone showed themselves brilliantly. But, we will note one point. When it turned out that the tracks of the tanks did not move well on the sand, within a month, all the American tanks involved in the operation were converted for maneuvers in the desert.

The preventive sweep of the Iraqi troops by our aircraft and artillery certainly played a decisive role. But, despite this, the involvement of the infantry put the fighters under a natural threat. Therefore, it was vital to provide the infantry with optimal equipment and weapons. And, it was done. Moreover, night vision devices played a huge role in successful and productive actions.

All the developments of engineers for the period preceding the campaign against Iraq were not only tested in the most difficult combat conditions. They saved lives and gave the US Army an incredible advantage against enemy soldiers. This superiority was vital in the states fighting on foreign territory. This allowed the American soldiers to declare: "We owe the night proudly."

The bloody meat grinder started by another dictator in the Balkans resulted in the Bosnian, Croatian, and Kosovo Wars. The experience gained during this war was not very useful to our army in the next decade—the conflicts in which the United States was involved to a greater extent required pilots' skills. At the same time, Intervention in Haiti is difficult to consider as a training ground for serious training and testing of the latest achievements of military engineers. But Intervention in the Somali turned into a fiasco. But, here, too, the equipment and American weapons helped save hundreds of lives of American soldiers. You can see some dramatic reading of this operation in Black Hawk Down.

At this time, on the border of two centuries, the image of the American military man loomed and took shape. We will even say more: this moment can be considered the boundary that divided all martial art into before and after. With the onset of the 2000s, old textbooks could be thrown away. A new era has come, which, among other things, has formed an unknown soldier. In light and reliable body armor, with modern weapons, in convenient and comfortable clothes. Well, and night vision devices ... Today, our army, it seems, even equips wristwatches with devices capable of seeing at night.

The current US military paradigm is remote action using the full power of technological solutions that have been invented throughout the history of man. And, even if it becomes necessary for the infantry to act, each fighter carries equipment worth several tens of thousands of dollars. Everything is for their safety and the ability to perform tasks as efficiently as possible.

Oddly enough, such a deadly power was supposed to destroy the desire of humanity to fight. But, recent history shows that these concepts do not correlate. There are still mad rulers who try to mask their inability to achieve economic victories in attempting to obtain military victories.

It does not matter the development of their armies and technologies. Even countries as poor and underdeveloped as Afghanistan can become a haven for small militant groups of people who, with their forceful thrust, can drag their country into war. The United States ended up in this country, waging a difficult and desperate struggle against world terrorism. And, in this war, NVDs have become just salvation. The lifeless and monotonous landscapes of the area became another enemy of the US Army. It's hard to say how many lives being able to navigate the hostile nightscape has saved. And you can hardly imagine a better advertisement for technology than the impeccable Operation Neptune Spear, which allowed the destruction of Osama bin Laden. The professionalism of our soldiers and their night eyes made it possible to carry out one of the most legendary operations in history and do it almost flawlessly, avenging the entire Nation.

Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Syria - many of these countries have become the scene of wars in the framework of the War on Terrorism. Others have suffered from authoritarianism. They are all different but very similar in their problems. In each of these wars, the US has demonstrated a unique combat system, a unique fusion of strength and intelligence.

The future of night vision technology in the US Army.

This is probably where we should stop talking about the role of night vision in military conflicts in highlighting battles, operations, and wars. Night vision technology and thermal imaging technology are already as familiar as helmets, firearms, walkie-talkies, and everything you are used to seeing soldiers with. Any modern conflict is a conflict in which both sides will actively use night vision devices. On the one hand, this is sad because now the war does not even have conditional pauses. On the other hand, we are fully confident that these war devices save far more lives than they help to take.

Today, it isn't easy to imagine equipment without a complex system of night functioning and a fighter without a monocular, binoculars, and NV goggles. And the future can be anything. It will keep these devices, even if they are made in the form of microchips implanted in the eye or brain of a fighter.

Today's distant vision already goes far beyond the imagination of the most daring writers and directors. Even one colored night vision technology can be the next leap into the unknown and intriguing distance. But it is even more challenging to imagine how much more accurate, reliable, and light devices will become tomorrow. And these are not forecasts. This is what will inevitably happen. And it is enjoyable to realize that the United States is the pioneer of this progress.

Today, even the armies of savage tribes and gangs of robbers use night vision devices. Even the Russian military, which made a brutal invasion of a free Ukraine, uses French-made night vision devices in its tanks. This is very surprising, given that the military tactics and strategy of the Russians have not changed for seventy years. Can you imagine? These people are capable of nothing but tanky wedge attacks, but even they understand the importance of using modern NVDs.

We live in a moment when it is no longer worth highlighting conflicts and wars in which night vision devices have been used. We did not even have time to notice how these technologies were integrated into the modern military paradigm so profoundly that they became an integral part of it. But, we are glad that we understood the origins and primary turns in the remarkable history of devices that have come their way in just a few decades. Thanks to which, we can safely say: "We owe the night."

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The role of night vision in military conflicts.
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