As defence budgets take a beating due to the downturn of the war in Afghanistan, the market for night vision devices (NVDs) is being shaped by an upgrade of technology from Generation II to Generation III.
A decade ago, a major chunk of the night vision market supported war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, the end of the Afghanistan war will spell trouble for the market as contracts are completed and reduction in global demand begin to take their toll.
“Military budgets are being carefully managed in contracted economies. However, there is still strong demand for night vision equipment for military, paramilitary and police forces. Procurement sizes may be smaller and more carefully managed so buyers can achieve maximum value for their purchases”, an Exelis spokesperson told Defenseworld.net.
Generation III is widely regarded as state-of-the-art. The perforations, on the microchannel disk, were increased with smaller holes thus allowing more electrons to pass through them.
This increased the image resolution (although they were still in black and white) and worked well in low-light conditions. Gallium-arsenide photocathode image tubes convert the electrons flowing from the microchannel plate more efficiently.
Whereas, generation II incorporated a microchannel disk into the scope design, placing the disk between the photon capture plate and the cathode image tube.
The disk, perforated with millions of tubes (channels), passed electrons through without compressing the stream through the funnel of the Gen 0 and Gen 1 scopes, decreasing distortion. The electrons are multiplied thousands of times as they pass through the channels, producing a clearer image from less light.
Night vision technology is also on the brink of moving away from analog to digital night vision devices in the future.
However, not everyone is quick to agree. “While digital devices are attractive, the technology is not fully mature at this point. Digital can also be an aggressive consumer of power which is always an issue on the battlefield,” he added. “Most governments are not inclined right now to spend limited investment resources in substantial amounts required for development in this area.”
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