O-NYX night vision goggles: small equipment, big winner

O-NYX night vision goggles: small equipment, big winner

Special forces are no longer the only boots on the ground needing high-performance night vision equipment. In the last 20 years, infantry troops deployed in every type of conventional and asymmetric conflict have also come to depend on their night vision goggles to stay ahead of the action and keep themselves safe. And yet helmet-mounted equipment has historically been quite heavy and bulky, making soldiers less agile and causing neck fatigue when worn for long periods. Today, advances in light intensification technology have brought featherweight, ultra-compact goggles within reach of each and every infantry soldier who needs to operate at night.

Since 2019, the French Army has taken delivery of more than 2,000 of Thales’s new O-NYX night vision goggles, with another 1,500 on order and options on further shipments for a total requirement of more than 7,000 units, to replace the force’s legacy fleet of Lucie goggles, also developed and manufactured by Thales. Weighing less than 350 g, the product has a patented low-profile design that shortens the distance between the eyes and the centre of gravity of the equipment to minimise neck strain and improve wearing comfort for prolonged use.

Enhanced tactical performance

Soldiers from France’s 6th light armoured brigade deploying to the Sahel were eagerly awaiting the new equipment, and although the delivery schedule has been somewhat disrupted by the Covid-19 crisis, the customer spoke with Thales management earlier this year to confirm that they are fully satisfied with the new kit. Because as well as being easy to wear, O-NYX delivers significant improvements in optical performance. Its 51° field of view expands the observed scene by 70% compared with conventional goggles, and the combination of pin-sharp resolution and a wider field of view augments the soldier’s perception and enhances situational awareness. With its low energy consumption, the new goggle will work for up to 30 hours on a single charge and can run on standard AA batteries when needed.

Bright prospects

The O-NYX order is part of moves to replace small equipment — items like handguns, helmets and bullet-proof vests — under the current French defence spending plan. Welcoming this first delivery from Thales, defence minister Florence Parly said in a statement that the programme would ensure better protection than ever before for French soldiers on deployment in 2020.

And with France as the lead customer, this ITAR-free product manufactured by Thales in Saint Héand near Lyon is expected to be a big winner in the crowded market for military-grade night vision equipment. “The French Army sets the bar extremely high,” said Bertrand Boismoreau, head of operations at Saint Héand, “so the success of this project and the French Army’s continued trust in Thales sends a strong signal to other countries as they prepare to launch their own procurements.”