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60th APS seeks to improve vision, readiness

Airmen from the 60th Aerial Port Squadron set up night vision equipment during a recent training event at Travis Air Force Base, Calif. The 60th APS is in the process of transitioning the currently used green phosphor night vision goggles to white and black phosphor NVGs. White and black phosphor NVGs offer modern day technology and enhance mission effectiveness when operating in low-light or no-light conditions.

Airmen from the 60th Aerial Port Squadron set up night vision equipment during a recent training event at Travis Air Force Base, Calif. The 60th APS is in the process of transitioning the currently used green phosphor night vision goggles to white and black phosphor NVGs. White and black phosphor NVGs offer modern day technology and enhance mission effectiveness when operating in low-light or no-light conditions.

Airmen from the 60th Aerial Port Squadron set up night vision equipment during a recent training event at Travis Air Force Base, Calif. The 60th APS is in the process of transitioning the currently used green phosphor night vision goggles to white and black phosphor NVGs. White and black phosphor NVGs offer modern day technology and enhance mission effectiveness when operating in low-light or no-light conditions.

Airmen from the 60th Aerial Port Squadron set up night vision equipment during a recent training event at Travis Air Force Base, Calif. The 60th APS is in the process of transitioning the currently used green phosphor night vision goggles to white and black phosphor NVGs. White and black phosphor NVGs offer modern day technology and enhance mission effectiveness when operating in low-light or no-light conditions.

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Members of the 60th Aerial Port Squadron at Travis Air Force Base, have dedicated time and resources trying to update the night vision goggles which are used throughout the base.

Green phosphorus NVGs are currently used throughout the base, from an Airman on the flight line to a pilot in a mobility aircraft. The switch from the green phosphorous NVGs to white phosphorus NVGs will help sustain proper safety, save the U.S. Air Force money and enhance mission readiness, said John Buchanan, 60th APS civilian operations officer.

“The major difference is instead of green phosphorous, the new model we’re testing is white,” said Tech. Sgt. Jameson L. Bliss, 60th APS operations NCO. “Meaning, instead of having to operate in low-light or no-light operation with the image being in multiple shades of green, the new model is black and white with grey shades.”

Night vision devices were first used in World War II and became an even larger asset to the U.S. armed forces in the Vietnam War. The technology of night vision has evolved greatly since their introduction.

There are many differences and uses NVGs offer. There are four different NVG “generations,” with generation III providing clearer image quality. All four generations are green phosphor and the generations are introducing the white phosphor NVGs.

According to Night Vision Plane, a company which specializes in selling a large variety of night vision aid, using white phosphorus heightens visibility and contrast in comparison to green hue. White phosphor is highly recommended in tactical situations, enabling users to acquire targets faster and easier because seeing in black and white is more natural to the human eye.

“The advantage of this new optic is the use of white phosphor, which enhances the degree of detail in overall contrast and range of shades through lenses with greatly improved pixels and new image intensification tubes to help prevent damage to the optic during moments of high-light during the night (such as inbound attacks and gunfire),” said Bliss. “From tests so far, users report an improved sense of confidence and situational awareness when operating in dark environments, meaning less chances of vehicle collisions and other accidents like falling from something.”

Bliss recently went on a temporary duty assignment with the objective of introducing the new NVGs in a field training environment. Bliss and Airmen familiar with NVG equipment were satisfied with the results the new equipment produced.

“I've tested the [new NVGs] with aerial porters, aircraft maintenance, loadmasters, boom operators, security forces and civil engineering teams, culminated and summarized over two dozen feedbacks that believe that the [new NVGs] are a great improvement over current NVGs,” said Bliss. “It would support a large list of tasks from each of their career fields.”

According to American Technologies Network, Corp., a leading manufacturer and developer of precision night vision optics and thermal imaging, seven out of 10 users credit white phosphor technology as a “night vision preference” when compared with common green night vision.

“White and black NVGs enhanced my vision capabilities with the thorough site I had while operating in the dark,” said Airman 1st Class Kim H. Yong with the 60th Civil Engineering Squadron pavements and equipment operator. “The NVGs enabled me to operate for a longer duration under less stress with the increased depth perception.”

The hand signals from spotters on the ground were much easier to identify, which is a huge advantage to operating in low-light or no-light circumstances, said Yong.

“If your life depends on your gear and you want to improve your operational effectiveness, using white phosphor NVGs is vital,” said Buchanan. “We're starting off with our squadron. However, from the information gathered, we can justify a need for transitioning the entire Air Force to the white phosphor NVGs.”

Using modern technology comparable to optics used by special operations teams will offer more effectiveness to the Travis mission, said Buchanan.

“Using white phosphor NVGs gives Airmen a lighter, more modern and more durable NVG to safely, but effectively operate in the dark,” said Buchanan. “It has the capability to replace three different models currently in use. Creating a single standard NVG which requires much less maintenance and lowers the cost to maintain will be beneficial to Travis AFB.”

The 60th APS has conducted exercises to ensure the white phosphor NVGs are more effective than the current Generation III green phosphor NVGs.