Most of us have realized, since the first Gulf War in 1990 to 1991 and subsequent involvements in Iraq and Afghanistan, that night vision has revolutionized the modern battlefield and is a crucial advantage exploited by our armed forces over less well equipped opponents. As often happens with advanced military technology, this advantage is now becoming available to the LE and civilian markets.
American Technologies Network (ATN) Corp based in San Francisco, California is widely renowned as one of the best sources of night vision (NV) equipment. ATN NV products come with an industry leading two-year warranty (with some items covered for three years) and they offer many versions or types of night vision devices across the different technological designations, allowing a user to choose a device based both on needed capabilities and budget.
Range view through an ATN PS22 HPT during a night fire exercise illustrates its versatility of being dismounted from weapon as applicable. Random ambient light sources such as weapon mounted lights and muzzle flashes put a premium on quality night vision
so that images do not wash out or “bloom.”
While there are references to night vision development near the end of World War II, the equipment used in the Vietnam War is technically considered the birth of night vision, thus labeled First Generation. As with any devices relating to electronics, the age of the computer and the shrinking microprocessor has allowed for quantum leaps in technology and size reduction since the 1960s. Night vision devices work by gathering existing ambient light, whether this is moonlight, starlight, or induced infrared illumination. The ambient light made up of photons passes thru a photocathode tube that changes the photons to electrons. The electrons are amplified via chemical and electrical processes and pass thru a phosphorus screen that changes the amplified electrons back into visible light that can be viewed through the eyepiece. Designers chose to broadcast the image in green, as green is a color that the human eye can tell the most variations or shades of. This basic description defines First Generation night vision devices.
The succeeding Generations of night vision come into play by how the above process is handled or improved upon. As typical with technology, there is a cost increase associated with any increase in capability. Second generation night vision is improved on by adding a micro-channel plate (MCP). The MCP amplifies the electrons to a higher level generating a better quality image for the user.