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.
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.
Here’s one of the pre-rendered parts of the game.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As you can see , the eye pieces blend together for a wide field of view.
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.
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.
And there’s a battery pack in the back.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It’s a “monocular” (one tube) with 40 degree field of view.
It uses Gen 2+ technology, rather than Gen 3.
But, that makes it affordable.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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