Which Night Vision Generation Does The Army Use?

Night vision technology has highly evolved since its introduction and leading to several generations of night vision devices. And these Night vision devices provide numerous benefits to the defense sector on the outside and enable the military personnel to carry out under operations. 

In this article, let us know about night vision and which night vision generation does the army use?

What is night vision?

Night vision is the ability to see in the darkness or a low-light environment. The main intention of the night vision was to find enemy targets at night. 

The night vision devices are often used by military and law enforcement agencies, navigation, and surveillance. Also, the applications include wildlife observation, hunting, camping, night driving, and search & rescue.

How does Night Vision work?

Night vision devices depend on ambient light, i.e., Starlight, moonlight, and infra-red light. 

The light, which is made up of photons, enters into the photocathode tube, which converts the photons into electrons. 

The number of electrons gets multiplied into the photomultiplier device. When these electrons hit the phosphor screen, the amplified electrons can be changed into the visible image that we see through the eyepiece.

Night vision uses in the military

The night vision device is used to observe and intensify the hidden objects in the deep dark condition for the human eyes. These night vision devices provide significantly better night vision than the naked eye, and also, provides numerous benefits. 

They are often used by military and law enforcement agencies to control vital military operations at night. 

Moreover, night vision was first used in the year 1930. The first night vision devices were introduced by Germany, and they’re used in WWII and came outspread during the Vietnam war. 

The Original use of night vision devices was unsuccessful because they are heavy to lift and are expensive. But now the night vision technology has much developed over the past few years. 

Every progression of newer optics is called generations. Each generation outcomes with better performance and at affordable prices.

What Type of Night Vision Device Does the Military use?

The Military uses three types of night vision, and they are thermal imaging, image intensification, and active illumination. Where the thermal imaging is used for collecting information about the objects, for showing off the images even in low light environments. 

It’s the method of using infrared radiation. Thermal imaging works without any source of light, even in the fog, smog, and haze. 

Image intensification works by magnifying the source of light that is available by starlight or moonlight and streetlights etc. This image intensification technology gathers small amounts of ambient lights and converts this light energy into electrical energy as it amplifies the light and allows us to see the images. 

The advantages over the image intensification technologies are they have higher resolutions, the ability to identify the people, and excellent low-light-level sensitivity. 

Also, it requires low power and cost. Active illumination is used to provide the night lighting of clear imaging vision under low lighting conditions. 

This active illumination is mostly used for government and residential security purposes for effective lighting of clear vision under low lighting conditions.

Which generation devices do the army use?

Most of the night vision devices are highly equipped with the GEN III type of night vision technology and are used by the military men for safeguarding purposes. These GEN III night vision devices are perfect for operating without IR illumination on covert operations. These devices provide incredible performance. 

Advantages over the GEN III devices are high resolutions, long durability, reliability, best low-light performance, and producing cleanest and brightest images. It has the longest ranges up to 300 yards based on the model and conditions.

But, the GEN III-based night vision devices are restricted to use for the normal activities by the citizens for hunting, camping, traveling, etc. The main purpose of the night vision devices, which are invented by the US military during the war timing to serve the military night fighters. GEN III night vision goggles are the current technology used by the S armed forces.

GEN III Night Vision

GEN III night vision is the best night vision technology in the market. GEN III night vision optics are reserved for military and law enforcement, and it’s the gold standard technology nowadays. 

One of the best revolutions in the GEN III night vision is that it is available with the Autogated image tubes. It has longevity and a period of existence up to 10,000+ hours.

Initially, the GEN III night vision devices used a microchannel plate that was already developed in the GEN II night vision devices, but now GEN III night vision technology uses a photocathode. 

By adding gallium arsenide to the photocathode produces a brighter picture and higher resolution image. The microchannel plate is coated with an ion barrier film and increases the life of the tube. Hence it provides a user with superior low-light performance.

Difference between GEN II and GEN III night vision

GEN II night vision devices are commonly used by law enforcement or for professional applications. GEN II optics produce clear and bright images with good resolution in the range of 200 yards depending on the model, while GEN III provides a higher resolution of 300 yards.

GEN II devices operate without IR illumination and let the user operate passively. In comparison to the GEN III night vision, the life duration of GEN II is about 5000 hours of use. Almost all GEN II devices are much closer to GEN III devices. 


Although night vision technology works under three distinct technologies, and image intensification technology is the first introduced device. Its success results in the advancements of light amplification and resolution techniques. Moreover, night vision devices had been improved dramatically in recent years with their advanced technologies that produce clearer images, improved light amplification, durability, and portability. As technology improves, more chances will open for the use of night vision devices. And these night vision technologies are very important to battle terrorism, which is the major problem being faced by mankind.

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