Night Vision Use in the Miliary
Night vision was first used in the military in the 1930s when Germany equipped about 50 of their tanks with night vision devices. These devices provided substantially better vision than the naked eye but would not hold a candle to the devices the military uses today. In fact, the original night vision for military use was mostly unsuccessful. It was too expensive and exceedingly heavy.
Today, the military still uses night vision devices but they are much better suited to their needs. There are three types of night vision that the military uses: image intensification, active illumination, and thermal imaging. Image intensification essentially works by magnifying the natural light that is available from moonlight, street lights, etc. Active illumination actually uses light that is not detectable by the human eye to light up the images. Finally, thermal imaging is able to show images that give off heat such as human bodies.
There are two main devices that the military uses today in order to take advantage of night vision technologies. The first is night vision goggles which are the less common of the two despite the fact that most soldiers are now equipped with them. Goggles look a bit like binoculars and use image intensification to help users scan for enemies in the dark. The second is simply called a night vision device and it looks more like a telescope. It can be mounted on tanks or even reduced in size and mounted on the sight of a gun or weapon for those on duty in the dark. This is a form of the first devices used in the 1930s and it too uses image intensification.
The military uses night vision for many purposes. Soldiers on the ground use night vision while defending an area or while scanning for opposition. In addition, tanks use night vision devices for the same reason. Generally when using these devices, things appear with a greenish tint because of the way the light reflects off of the landscape. Thermal imaging is used in the military on a larger scale. For example, when looking for enemies in compounds or ensuring there are no civilians in a certain area. Thermal imaging is not only a type of night vision; it can also be used during daylight hours simply to detect the presence of humans.
Night vision technology continues to expand at a rapid pace and more developments in the military will likely be seen in the very near future.