The US Army's New Goggles Let Troops See Through Solid Walls
The United States Army has new goggles capable of letting soldiers see through walls of combat vehicles — which enables infantry troops to greatly enhance their situational awareness, according to a press release shared on the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service.
And, in combat, situational awareness is key to survival.
Army's new goggles let troops see through solid walls
The U.S. Army is developing Integrated Augmented Vision System (IAVS) goggles for close-combat forces — which involve both mounted and dismounted troops, namely, infantry.
This capability aims to send tens of thousands of new goggles into the field, which can also enable soldiers to check around corners, see in the dark, and even display digital maps and other tactical data on the goggles' lenses.
Since the new goggles use feeds from omnidirectional cameras positioned on the outside of armored vehicles, they allow a squad of six soldiers protected inside a Bradley or Stryker infantry vehicle to "see" through the walls of the vehicle — achieving a clear picture of the scene without risking life and limb.
"Now guys aren't hanging out of vehicles in dangerous situations trying to get views on what's going on," said Sgt. Philip Bartel of the 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team to the Army, in the press release.
"Leadership will be able to maneuver their elements and get view-on-target without having to leave the safety of their armored vehicles," added Bartel. "Maneuvering elements with that kind of information will minimize casualties and will overall drastically change how we operate and increase our effectiveness on the battlefield."
The Army designed the IAVS goggles to perform like heads-up displays (HUD) used on fighter jets. In the same way, IAVS goggles display information like video, maps, and night vision directly in a soldier's field of view.
IAVS goggles stalled in Congress, but slated to give key advantage in battle
Naturally, soldiers have always had this suite of tactical data available, but, with IAVS, they now have instant access — a decisive advantage during combat. Instead of digging through their pockets for a paper map that could be based on expired intel, soldiers can immediately call up a digital map on their IAVS without looking away from the target objective.
The IAVS system can also integrate with soldiers' weapons via a rifle-mounted thermal imaging night vision scope — also displaying a soldier's surroundings within their field of vision. This would allow soldiers to point a rifle while hiding behind cover, or around corners to check out what's waiting through a scope — both without exposing their body to potential enemy attacks.
Soldiers may also use IAVS to gain access to microdrone cameras flying overhead across an active battlefield.
The Army had requested $1.1 billion to purchase 40,000 of the IAVS system goggles, according to a Popular Mechanics report. While this is sufficient to equip every frontline soldier in the Army — U.S. Congress slowed the program this year, reducing the requested budget by 20%. While the program continues its journey through the bureaucratic framework of government, these new goggles will allow soldiers to acclimate to their surroundings, identify potential enemies, and adapt their tactics to optimize conditions for success.
This was a breaking story and was regularly updated as new information became available.
Professor Gretchen Benedix is an astrogeologist and cosmic mineralogist who studies meteorites and figures the forming stages of the solar system.