The Marine Corps said Tuesday it has grown its acquisition strategy for its next-generation night vision goggles with a plan to purchase an additional 1,300 units ahead of the imminent release of a final proposal request for the larger program.
The Squad Binocular Night Vision Goggles (SBNVG) program, to replace the current Army/Navy Portable Visual Search devices the Marine Corps used since the 1990s, is set to ultimately include a purchase of 16,000 units.
“We have employed a bridge capability to give Marines the best gear right now available in the commercial marketplace,” Lt. Col. Tim Hough, program manager for infantry weapons, said in a statement. “A final procurement solution will allow a larger pool of our industry partners to bid on the program.”
The bridge capability for updated night vision goggles will be finalized using existing Defense Logistics Agency contracts, according to the Marine Corps.
The Marines took a test version of a potential bridge capability to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina in December to allow users an opportunity to get used to the new two-part system: a binocular night vision device and an enhanced clip-on thermal imager.
“With these new [BNVGs], having the ability to not only use thermal optics along with it, but just the entire depth perception and speed that we can operate in is going to significantly increase, as opposed to what we were able to do in the past,” Cpl. Zachary Zapata, a Marine included in the training, said in a statement.
Hough said the follow-on procurement for 16,000 SBNVG units will look to deliver new devices incrementally and incorporate the latest technology updates.
“Right now, we are participating with the Army on their next generation night vision systems, both the Enhanced Night Vision Device-Binocular and Integrated Visual Augmentation System Programs,” Hough said. “We are eager to see the maturation of these capabilities for adoption to improve the effectiveness of our Marines.”
Fielding for SBNVG is expected to begin in September 2019 and will start with Marine Rifle Squads.
The draft RFP for the program was released last November.