The US Air Force and Navy are pursuing rival night-vision upgrades for the Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS). The navy has awarded JHMCS producer Vision Systems International (VSI) a $3.3 million contract to develop the Night Vision Cueing and Display (NVCD) system, while the air force is pursuing the Panoramic Night Vision Goggles (PNVG) system.

Deliveries of Block I PNVGs for USAF special operations Lockheed Martin AC-130 and MC-130 aircrews have started, with Fairchild A-10s and Boeing C-17s to follow. Initial flight assessments of the JHMCS-integrated Block IV PNVG have been conducted using a Boeing F-15 and Lockheed F-16.

The USN contract will allow VSI to complete integration of night vision into the JHMCS, which was launched using company funding, says Wayne Diamond, executive vice-president and general manager of the Rockwell Collins/Elbit Systems joint venture. The navy is flight testing prototype units and the system is expected to enter production next year if funding can be secured, he says.

The NVCD uses VSI’s modular QuadEye image inten­­sifier unit, in either a two-tube configuration with a 40 x 40° field of view, or a four-tube arrangement offering a pan­oramic 100 x 40°. The ejection-qualified unit clips on to the helmet and introduces symbology through the goggles.

The Block I PNVG system being developed by the US Air Force Research Laboratory and Insight Technology uses four tubes to provide a 95° field of view. The initial unit is not ejection-qualified and does not provide symbology – capabilities scheduled for Block III. The JHMCS-integrated Block IV will be fielded in two to three years after a competition and flight tests, says the USAF.

Source: Flight International