Recent heightened tensions between China and Pakistan have brought into sharp focus, the lack of night fighting capabilities within the Indian military, especially related to the army’s mechanised formations. Decisive steps are now being taken towards equipping the armed forces with the ability to fight at night or in low-visibility conditions and presently, the armed and paramilitary forces are looking at upgrading night vision capability across the board, whether it is equipping infantry personnel, Special Forces (SF) units or upgrading tanks, armoured personnel carriers, etc.
Need of the hour
In the past, defence forces were restricted by their ability to only fight during the day. However, in the 21st century, that is no longer an option. Today and in the future, conflicts will occur continuously irrespective of the time of the day and, the force with better capabilities to hide, while seeking their targets in the dark will have an upper hand. Night Vision Devices/ Night Vision Goggles (NVD/NVG) are crucial on the modern battlefield as they provide the ability to fight not only at night but also during other conditions of reduced visibility and NVDs are required in large quantities across the army, navy, air force, and paramilitary forces.
The most important parameters for any NVD is its Sound-Noise Ratio (SNR), resolution/ clarity, modular transfer function and lifetime. To reduce the dependency on ambient light and to provide its light source which is invisible to the naked eye, other add on technologies which can be used along with NVDs include thermal image intensifiers and infrared illuminators. The latest NVD technology is the black and white picture for night scenes as compared to the classic green image. While Indian public sector defence undertakings have the capability to manufacture NVDs, they are not of the latest generation and often bulky and do not deliver the capability required to deliver a decisive battlefield edge.
Most of the defence programmes in this segment has been undertaken by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Ordnance Factory Board’s (OFB) Opto Electronics Factory (OLF) and Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) through Transfer of Technology (ToT) or reverse engineering. Currently, BEL is the biggest supplier of night vision equipment to the armed forces and also has a tie-up with Elbit Systems Electro Optics Ltd. for the production and support of thermal imaging systems.
While Indian public sector defence undertakings have the capability to manufacture NVDs, are not of the latest generation and often bulky and do not deliver the capability required to deliver a decisive battlefield edge
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