Call of Duty Modern Warfare Night Vision Goggles

The 2019 version of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is now for sale – and quad tube Night Vision Goggles play a prominent role in the gameplay.

When you are assuming the role of “Tier 1 Operators” night vision goggles are available – you can shoot out lights and then surprise your opponents.

You might be wondering – are these devices real?

And why 4 tubes?

That’s what we’ll talk about here.

Night Vision Goggles will play a key role in the upcoming Call of Duty : Modern Warfare game
Night Vision Goggles will play a key role in the upcoming Call of Duty : Modern Warfare game

What sort of Night Vision Goggles are these depicted in the COD game?

I’m not sure – they don’t look like anything I’ve ever seen. There’s not quite enough detail to be able to tell.

The gameplay segments seem to have a different model than the pre-rendered cinematic sequences.

Night Vision Goggles in Call Of Duty - Quad Tubes for Panoramic WIde Field of View
Night Vision Goggles in Call Of Duty – Quad Tubes for Panoramic Wide Field of View

Here’s one of the pre-rendered parts of the game.

NVGs in Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2019
The pre-rendered elements of the game seem to have a slightly different model of NVG.

Are these some new super-secret SEAL gear? I doubt it. If there is a new model, they wouldn’t be allowed to use it in the game, I’m sure.

But, it is realistic to depict these devices as they are used in the game.

After all, quad tube Night Vision Goggles have been available for many years – and have played an important role in many US missions.

Here’s the Ground Panoramic Night Vision Goggle (GPNVG) (Optics Planet: $42,499.00) from EOTech.

Ground Panoramic Night Vision Goggles (GPNVG) from EOTech
Ground Panoramic Night Vision Goggles (GPNVG) from EOTech. This is a real device used in real missions.

Yes, this is a real product.

And, it’s real expensive – $42,499.

It uses Generation 3 Image Intensification Tube (IIT) technology.

It uses those IITs to amplify any available light – including nothing but star light or moon light – and present a usable image to the wearer.

Gen III technology is very advanced, and it is illegal to export it outside of the US.

Why the four tubes?

That’s why these are called panoramic night vision goggles.

Special operations forces using Ground Panoramic Night Vision Goggles (GPNVG)
A Lithuanian Special Operations Forces soldier training with U.S. forces is wearing Ground Panoramic Night Vision Goggles. The 4 tubes provide a very wide Field of View (FOV). (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Connor Mendez)

Binocular (two tube) NVGs normally give about 40 degrees of vision (“Field of View”).

It’s a very restricted view – and causes “tunnel vision”.

For comparison, here’s a dual tube NVG mounted on a flight helmet.

ANVIS stands for Aviator's Night Vision Imaging System. Here's a binocular (two tube) setup.
ANVIS stands for Aviator’s Night Vision Imaging System. Here’s a binocular (two tube) setup.

The quad tube NVGs give 97 degrees field of view – which is a huge step up.

This top view of the device shows you how this works. This is a computer rendering – but is generally accurate.

GPNVG - Top view of the device.
GPNVG – Top view of the device.

That’s a huge boon – whether you are flying a helicopter or on a tactical mission on the ground.

The first four tube night vision device was the ANVIS 10 – or “Aviator’s Night Vision System”.

It looks similar.

And it was created to make it safer to fly helicopters and other aircraft using these goggles. The mighty A-10 ground attack aircraft is also known to be flown with NVGs.

These particular NVGs have “Ground” right in the name because they are “ruggedized” for use on the ground.

Why ruggedized? Well, stuff tends to get dropped and banged up a lot more in the field as compared to sitting in an aircraft cockpit.

Quad tube NVGs provide excellent field of view.

As you can see , the eye pieces blend together for a wide field of view.

Ground Panoramic Night Vision Googles – view through the optics. This is a computer rendering, but is accurate.

How do you mount these? Where do these attach? Normally to the NVG shroud on a ballistic helmet.

They can be flipped up to the stowed position when not in use.

GPNVG mounted on helmet, front view
Front view of GPNVG when in the deployed position.

Can you use these in daylight?

No – an overload of light will damage the electronics.

Further, the tubes wear out with use – and are good for about 2,000 hours or so.

GPNVG in the stowed position
GPNVG in the stowed position

And there’s a battery pack in the back.

GPNVGs use a battery pack - mounted on the backside of the helmet - it helps to counterbalance the weight of the goggles up front.
GPNVGs use a battery pack – mounted on the backside of the helmet – it helps to counterbalance the weight of the goggles up front.

As such, you can see that the four tube devices represented in the game are at least accurate in a fundamental sense – even if we can’t quite figure which model they are.

Before we move on, let’s talk about those Image Intensification Tubes (IIT) a bit more.

Here’s an excerpt from a U.S. Army manual that describes how these work in a simplified sense.

Simplified schematic of how Image Intensification Tubes in Night Vision Goggles work
Simplified schematic of how Image Intensification Tubes (IIT) in Night Vision Goggles (NVG) work.

The photocathode and multi channel plate (MCP) is what amplifies the available light.

The eerie green glow of the goggles come from the green phosphor used.

There are also devices that use white phosphor – which are usually considered better because the image is higher contrast and feels more natural.

But, movies have taught us that Night Vision = Green, and it’s true that most devices use green.

It’s also important to understand – these goggles are NOT “thermal vision” or “thermal imaging”.

These goggles do pick up “Near Infra Red” (NIR) light, but it’s not thermal vision – and in fact some of these use an “IR illuminator” that projects that type of invisible light to light up the scene better. This makes it easy to read maps or repair vehicles (up close) in the dark while wearing NVGs.

But thermal vision is an entirely different sort of tech – and isn’t typically incorporated into tactical goggles for several reasons – although it is used extensively in monoculars, binoculars, spotting scopes, rifle scopes, and weapon sights.

Those sort of devices actually show you an image based on the differences in heat emanating from objects (both man made and natural) and their background.

Thermal vision uses different technology to show a digital image of the heat differences between objects and the background.
Thermal vision uses different technology to show a digital image of the heat differences between objects and the background.

Now, let’s talk about the Dark Edition of COD:Modern Warfare.

It claims to include “working” night vision goggles.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Dark Edition

The Dark Edition of the game will come with functioning night vision goggles.

Call of Duty Warfare - NVGs play a key role - in a helmet mounted, tactical use
Call of Duty Warfare – NVGs play a key role – in a helmet mounted, tactical use

I don’t know exactly how these work – but I’m confident enough to state these are not Image Intensification (I2) based tech.

They are more likely digital night vision – which is much, much cheaper – and not nearly as capable.

The NVGs will feature a “Long Range IR Mode”. As described by the manufacturer:

“Toggle to this mode and the NVG operates at full power and emits a (barely visible) ring of red light. This mode allows you to see up to 65 feet (20 meters) in complete darkness.

From the picture it looks like one “Tube” has several LEDs – this would be the “IR Illuminator”.

The other tube is probably the actual “tube” (and the two on the outside are probably for show – I’m guessing though.

There’s nothing really advanced about this sort of night vision – many consumer video cameras have had this same sort of “night vision” mode since the 90s.

For example, Sony camcorders had a “Night-Shot” mode.

It’s also the same tech in your $49 game trail camera.

Dark Edition will cost $199.

That’s about 1/5th the cost of the cheapest real I2 NVG monocular.

Needless to say, the “Dark Edition” NVGs are a gimmick.

But, you probably knew that already.

I hope we’ve been able to shed some light on this topic – I find all this gear to be fascinating.

By the way, the “night vision for the masses” device of choice is currently this.

This is the PRG Defense P-14 1x24mm Night Vision Monocular (Optics Planet: $999).

It’s a “monocular” (one tube) with 40 degree field of view.

PRG Defense P-14 1x24mm Night Vision Monocular
PRG Defense P-14 1x24mm Night Vision Monocular – Gen2+ Image Intensifier Tube technology in an affordable, but versatile, package.

It uses Gen 2+ technology, rather than Gen 3.

But, that makes it affordable.

PRG Defense P-14 1x24mm Night Vision Monocular
PRG Defense P-14 1x24mm Night Vision Monocular – Night Vision for the masses?

What could you do with this expensive extravagance?

Use it hand-held, helmet mounted, or as a weapon sight.

It can be used for night time photography too.

The Future of Night Vision – “Fusing” I2 with Thermal Imaging

What’s coming next? Maybe devices such as the AN/PSQ-20.

It is available commercially as the EOTech ENVG Enhanced Night Vision Goggle.

EOTech Enhanced Night Vision Goggle - Dual Waveband technology fuses thermal imagery with Image Intensification (I2) tech
EOTech Enhanced Night Vision Goggle – Dual Waveband technology fuses thermal imagery with Image Intensification (I2) tech

It’s described as being a “dual waveband” monocular night vision device.

That’s because it fuses thermal imagery from radiated IR with image intensification (I2) technology – for the best of both worlds.

You can use this with the I2 image only, the thermal image, or both “fused” together.

What does this look like? Here’s a video from the PEO (Program Executive Office).

That device has been out in use in the field for over 5 years.

Coming soon is the next version – the ENVG-B or Enhanced Night Vision Goggle – Binocular.

As you can see – they’ve eliminated a lot of the bulk – which enabled them to make it a binocular device.

Binocular devices offer improved depth perception.

Also, the ENVG-B uses white phosphor which provides better contrast as compared to it’s predecessor.

The ENVG-B (Enhanced Night Vision Goggle - Binocular) is the next generation of night vision tech for the US Army.  It fuses I2 and thermal technology into one binocular unit.
The ENVG-B (Enhanced Night Vision Goggle – Binocular) is the next generation of night vision tech for the US Army. It fuses I2 and thermal technology into one binocular unit. Photo by by Patrick Ferraris

Cool.

COD Reveal Trailer

See the full Call of Duty: Modern Warfare trailer here.

Night Vision in COD – In Summary

Night Vision Devices (NODs, NVDs) play a prominent role in special forces actions.

The Call of Duty game attempts to present a realistic scenario illustrating how these night vision devices provide an advantage.

You may be interested in our article on NIR compliant clothing – which is a way to make yourself stand out more in night vision (for friendly force identification).

Night Vision – References

Gameplay screenshots are from Activision’s trailer for COD:Modern Warfare (2019).

https://blog.activision.com/call-of-duty/2019-07/Modern-Warfare-Initial-Intel-Creating-an-Orchestra-of-Incredible-Audio-Effects-Weapon-Sounds-in-Call-of-Duty-Modern-Warfare

https://blog.activision.com/call-of-duty/2019-08/Call-of-Duty-Modern-Warfare-Dark-Edition-Revealed

Good description of how Sony “Night-Shot” mode works

International Traffic in Arms Regulations (“ITAR,” 22 CFR 120-130). These implement the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) – this is a long read, but interesting.

The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.

Night military goggles, side view. 3D rendering
Soldier with tactical gear and Ground Panoramic Night Vision Goggles mounted on helmet
Soldier with tactical gear and Ground Panoramic Night Vision Goggles mounted on helmet
A helicopter crew chief wearing night vision goggles.
A UH-60M Black Hawk crew chief with the New Jersey National Guard’s 1-150th Assault Helicopter Battalion, stands for a portrait during a night training mission at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., Sept. 18, 2019. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht)

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1 Comment

  1. Your SEAL guess was actually accurate. SEAL Team Six has been using GPNVG’s since at least 2011, when they were used in the raid that killed Bin Laden. These were famously depicted in the film Zero Dark Thirty- a movie which has obviously influenced the realistic focus of the new Modern Warfare.

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